Canine Parvovirus, or "parvo" as its commonly called is a highly contagious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal systems of affected dogs and puppies. Here's everything you need to know about it!
In this informative article, we'll discuss all the common aspects of parvo - what is parvo? What are the symptoms? How should I treat it? How can I prevent it? And more!
What is Parvo?
As stated above, canine parvovirus, is a virus that dogs get. It's common world-wide, and, because of its extremely hardy, and rapidly spreading nature, should be taken very seriously. It's very fast acting - one day your pup is full of life, and in a matter of a few days, he or she might be exhibiting the signs of parvo.
The good news with this fast acting virus, is that, with prompt and proper treatment, its usually gone as quickly as it comes.
What Are The Symptoms of Parvo?
Parvo symptoms range somewhat but the most common ones include:
- anorexia (not eating)
- severe, bloody diarrhea
- Severe dehydration
In mild or early-onset cases, you may see only the first 3 symptoms, while more serious cases may include the more severe symptoms, or a combination of all of them.
As longtime breeders of Goldendoodles, we have had to (and continue!) guard carefully against parvo. We learned this the hard way a number of years ago, not long after we started raising puppies in 2017. A parvo outbreak wreaked havoc amongst our young puppies.
The good news is, we came away from that experience armed with the tools and knowledge in successfully battling and eliminating this treatment-resistant virus.
Canine parvovirus is extremely resistant to cleaners aimed at eliminating it. It's known to live a very long time in the ground and on surfaces, and can be spread through infected feces or saliva, or the contaminated clothes, shoes, or skin of humans.
The old cliché, "An Ounce of Prevention..." is 100% applicable here! As a breeder, all our puppies get at least their first two parvo shots before they go home. In addition, we are extremely careful to keep their housing and outdoor runs clean and sanitized on a daily basis.
In addition, we limit contact with the outside public before they go home, and we make sure each puppy is up to date on their wormer to give them the best chance of fighting off any attacks.
For our clients, we always recommend making sure all their current dogs (if any) are up to date on their shots. Other preventative measures include never setting your pup down any public setting where other dogs are known to be, until they've gotten all their shots. More on this later...
My Pup Has Parvo Symptoms - Now What?
Full disclaimer: We are not the vet! However, we do have a few things to point out that will help you know your next steps, and what you could expect.
First: If you suspect your pup has parvo, the first thing we recommend is getting your pup to the vet as soon as possible! According to this excellent article from the American Veterinary Medical Association, with immediate, and proper care, your pup has a 90% chance of completely recovering.
The 2nd thing we recommend - if your pup test positive, and you've brought your puppy home within the last week, notify the breeder or pet store immediately.
If your pup contracted it before coming home, trust us, they will want to know it, in order to prevent further spread. Pups can contract the virus and not show any symptoms for 3-8 days, even though they appeared completely healthy and normal at the time.
Even if its been longer than a week, your puppy breeder or pet store will likely want to hear about it, and often can help you know what to do next.
Early recognition and treatment is crucial for the highest successful treatment rate. (Meaning your pup recovers quickly fully)
The truth is, there are currently no drugs available to specifically eliminate the virus.
Instead, current treatments aim to support your pup's health as much as possible to help him fight off the virus. Treatments vary from case to case, and depends on severity.
Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, and treatments to help curb diarrhea and vomiting. Other treatments include an IV drip to replace lost fluids, and additional nutritional supplements to help build the immune system.
Common Parvo Treatments
For early onset / mild cases:
- Stool binders (anti-diarrheal)
- High nutrition supplements to support immune system
- Isolation from all other dogs / pets
For more severe cases, your vet may prescribe all the above, plus:
- Extended hospital stay
- IV drip (fluid replacement)
- Anti-vomiting medication
As mentioned, the most effective treatment for parvo is to prevent it!
Most reputable breeders take certain measures at all times to curb any chance of a puppy being infected or having it spread.
Our own protocol includes:
- Daily cleaning / sanitization of all the areas the puppies / dogs have been
- Puppies receive a minimum two parvo shots (6wk & 8wk) before going home
- Careful monitoring of puppies at all times
- Keeping the pups free of parasites and feeding the mama's (and puppies after weaning) high-quality food and supplements to build strong immune systems and healthy puppies
- Limiting public access before the puppies go home
- Puppies remain off the grass and any non-disinfected surfaces at all times
How You Can Prevent Parvo
All our clients get the same recommendations...
- Make sure your pup gets all the recommended parvo vaccinations
- Never put your pup down in public places, especially places where other dogs may be or have been present before, until he or she is fully vaccinated. This includes grass, parks, or any other place that was not sanitized thoroughly.
- Avoid contact with other dogs until your pup is fully vaccinated
- If you have other dogs, even if they're vaccinated, make sure to thoroughly clean anything your pup might get in contact with before it's vaccinated - including used food & water bowls, crates, bedding, and anything your other dogs may have had access to previously.
Final thoughts about parvo
Bottomline, parvo is serious, and should be taken seriously. Currently the best defense, is to be current on all shots, and to keep your pup in prime health.
The good news is, once vaccinated, or if your pup gets it and recovers, he or she is not likely to ever have symptoms again - their body is now immune to it.