Canine parvovirus is a serious, deadly virus that attacks the intestinal tract of dogs. Normally contracted through exposure to an infected dog's feces, the virus is extremely hardy and can survive extreme temperatures and direct exposure to sunlight. A surface exposed to infected feces can remain contaminated long after the feces are removed, and the virus can even be carried on shoes and clothing.
Puppies are the most likely to contract the parvovirus. Certain breeds are more susceptible (Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls), but all dogs are at risk. Cats rarely contract the virus. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea (often with blood), loss of appetite, fever or low body temperature, and depression.
Once infected, no treatment exists to kill the parvovirus in your dog. However, we can control the physical signs and the complications of the disease, including antibiotics to control infections, as well as other medications to reduce the vomiting and diarrhea. Puppies unfortunately normally have to be hospitalized.
In order to give your dog the best chance of surviving this virus, it is absolutely essential that you bring him in to see us at the first sign of infection. Even a few hours delay can drastically reduce chances of survival.
Preventing parvovirus is tricky due to the extremely hardy nature of the virus. The best option is a series of vaccinations during your puppy's first few visits with us. These vaccinations establish an immunity that can reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Once the vaccinations are complete, occasional boosters will help maintain the immunity. Our doctors will discuss this with you while you're here for your appointment.
Other ideas for prevention include:
- Minimize contact with other puppies or dogs
- Limit your visits to places frequented by other dogs until your puppy's vaccinations are complete
- If you have a dog with parvovirus, keep him separated from the others
- If you think your shoes may have come in contact with dog feces, wipe off the soles with a 1:30 bleach/water solution (4oz of bleach in a gallon of water).
- If a friend visits with a dog or puppy who has an accident in your home, clean the area with the same 1:30 bleach solution. (Be careful - this will strip the color from your carpets.)
Canine parvovirus is a serious disease, and we've seen a recent uptick in the number of cases in the Stockton area. If you see any of the symptoms described in your puppy, call the clinic immediately at (209) 477-4841 to have one of our veterinarians take a look.