What Is Parvo and How Do I Avoid It?
Canine Parvovirus (CPV, CPV2, Parvo) is a serious and incredibly dangerous disease that affects dogs and puppies. Parvo is extremely deadly if left untreated, and it is most commonly spread to puppies and young dogs who have not been fully vaccinated.
There are ways to treat parvo, but preventative action is the most important thing you can do for your dog. Let’s take a look at how you can prevent parvo in your dog. We’ll also consider ways in which you can recognize parvo and seek the treatment your dog needs.
What Is Parvo?
Parvo is a disease that appeared sometime in the 1970s. It is spread through dog poop but is incredibly contagious. That means that you can pick up the virus by simply touching clothing, grass, or another substance that has come into contact with parvo.
In order to replicate in the body, the parvo that affects dogs must find rapidly replicating cells within the body. Therefore, parvo usually attacks areas such as the lymph nodes or tonsils first. Once these rapidly dividing cells have moved the virus into the body, it usually heads for the dog’s bone marrow and small intestine. In smaller puppies, it may also attack the heart.
Once parvo enters the dog’s body through the mouth, it goes through an incubation period of between three and seven days before the dog begins showing symptoms. It is crucial that you get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. The first 24-72 hours are crucial—these are when the risk of death is the highest.
Usually, parvo lasts for between five and ten days for dogs who recover. Survival rates for dogs who receive appropriate care and treatment are around 75% to 80%.
Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs
Because parvo usually attacks the bone marrow and the cells lining the walls of the small intestine, it causes two major problems.
- In the bone marrow, parvo attacks young immune cells, thereby dropping protective, disease-fighting white blood cells.
- In the small intestine, parvo damages the small intestine, which prevents the absorption of nutrients, blocks bacteria from moving into the gut, and blocks fluid loss in poop.
These problems cause a variety of symptoms that typically include:
- Bloody poop
- Sepsis (possibly, if bacteria are allowed to spread into the blood)
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, get them to the vet right away. They will likely need to go to the hospital for further treatment to ensure that they heal as quickly as possible.
Healing from Parvo
While it is difficult to heal from parvo, it is certainly possible. Your best bet is to take your pup to the vet as soon as possible to begin treatment. Most vets will offer treatments such as:
- Intravenous fluids to restore hydration
- Anti-Emetics to stop vomiting
- Antibiotics and probiotics to provide future protection and heal the gut
- Antacids, electrolytes, and vitamins to help rebalance health
In severe cases, dogs may need blood transfusions, tube feeding, or glucose supplementation to help them regain their health. It is always important to provide dogs with extra nutritious food after a virus to help restore their gut health and replenish lost nutrients. Feed your dog a bland, nutrient-dense diet. You may also be able to find some dog foods made especially for dogs healing from parvo.
How To Prevent Parvo in Dogs
While parvo is certainly curable, it is best if your dog never gets it in the first place. Once they have it, they may continue to shed the virus for months, plus they’ll need a lot of help to fully recover. Treatment is also incredibly expensive, ranging from a low of $800 to a high of several thousand dollars.
If you want to prevent parvo in dogs, there are a few simple and easy steps to take.
- Get the vaccines. The parvo vaccine is a core vaccine for puppies. It is usually given every two or three weeks from the time your puppy is six weeks until they are four months. You should get them a booster shot at one year and every one to three years following.
- Avoid dangerous areas. While your puppy is young and not fully vaccinated, avoid going to dog parks where they may come into contact with the virus through other dogs’ poop. You should still be able to go to training centers and places where the parvo vaccine is required.
- Clean, clean, clean. If you come into contact with dog poop anywhere that isn’t your home, be sure you clean well. Parvo is very resistant to most disinfectants, but slightly diluted bleach can kill it as can certain cleaners you can get from the vet.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to prevent parvo in your pup. The most important thing for you to do is to get your dog vaccinated as soon as possible. Once they are vaccinated, they will be much more resistant to the virus and should be able to fight it off if they do get it.
How Idaho Poop Scoop Helps Prevent Parvo
Our team at Idaho Poop Scoop is well aware of the dangers of parvo. If we discover that there is parvo in any yard in which we scoop poop, we know how to properly bleach our equipment and shoes to prevent spreading parvo to any other dog.
As soon as we learn of parvo, we act to prevent the spread. We will notify you if we learn that there is a chance your dog has come into contact with the virus. We always keep an eye out for poop that could be a symptom of parvo and make sure to discuss it with the owner if necessary.
We care about your dog, and as you take steps to prevent the spread of parvo, we do too. If you need help from a safe, parvo-conscious team to help you clean up your dog’s poop, get in touch with us today!