Pet owners are being urged to keep up to date on their dog’s vaccinations as cases of parvovirus rise in the UK and Ireland.
The life-threatening disease can be extremely dangerous, especially in weaker dogs and puppies, so it’s important to prevent it whenever possible.
Here’s everything you need to know about the virus and how to avoid it.
What is parvovirus?
Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal. Many dogs diagnosed with parvo die.
The virus attacks cells in a dog’s gut, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients. This means a dog or puppy will become very weak and dehydrated.
It is also known as canine parvovirus or CPV.
Symptoms of parvo include foul-smelling diarrhea with blood in it, vomiting, loss of appetite, collapse, depression, fever, and sudden death.
Who is at risk?
Young puppies and unvaccinated dogs, including those who have not received their booster shots, are most at risk of becoming victims of parvo.
Puppies go downhill very quickly because the symptoms caused by parvovirus make them very weak and their immune systems have to work very hard to fight the disease. Adolescents between six weeks and six months are also more susceptible to secondary infections or may die from dehydration.
Parvo outbreaks are most common in cities with large populations of unvaccinated dogs.
Is parvovirus contagious to other dogs?
Parvo is highly contagious to other dogs and spreads very easily around dogs and puppies who are not up to date with their vaccinations.
It takes up to seven days for a dog to show signs of parvovirus after contracting it.
Parvovirus spreads through bodily fluids, including in a dog’s feces and vomit. It is extremely hardy and can survive in the extracorporeal environment – for example in the grass of a park – for at least six months and possibly much longer. Your dog can even contract parvo by sniffing another dog’s poop, and it’s not uncommon for dogs to catch parvo while out on a walk.
If your dog has come into contact with bedding, food and water bowls, carpet, or a kennel that a dog with parvovirus has touched, he can contract the virus. Parvo can also be spread on shoes, clothing, and human hands.
It’s really important to protect your dog from this terrible disease by vaccinating them.
What should I do if I suspect my dog has parvo?
If you notice the above symptoms in your own dog, call your veterinarian office immediately and get advice. Be sure to let them know what symptoms your dog or puppy is experiencing and whether or not they have been exposed to a dog with confirmed parvovirus.
Most deaths from parvo occur within 48 to 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. The sooner you seek help, the better your pet’s chances of survival.
Keep your dog away from other dogs as it spreads easily. Let your vet know if you have other dogs in your household as well, as they can offer advice on how to prevent it from spreading to all of your pets.