The last thing you need as a new dog owner is a diagnosis of parvo. This is a common disease, especially in puppies, with deadly consequences. It is, therefore, essential for anyone dealing with a dog to be aware of the different symptoms and know what to do about parvo in dogs.
Parvo is a disease of the small intestines and the stomach. It does the most damage here by destroying cells, disrupting the gut barrier, and impairing absorption. Parvo can also affect the lymphopoietic tissues, the bone marrow, and the heart. Here is everything you need to know about identifying and treating parvo in dogs.
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How does a dog get parvo?
Parvo in dogs is caused by a canine parvovirus. The virus is highly contagious, and it spreads through indirect contact with a contaminated object or direct contact with an infected dog. Therefore, your dog can be infected whenever they lick, sniff, or consume infected feces.
Indirect transmission can occur when your dog interacts with a person who has been exposed to an infected dog. Furthermore, your dog can get parvo if it comes into contact with contaminated objects like leashes, collars, and a water or food bowl.
Parvovirus can be found in dog parks, kennels, lawns, homes, etc. The virus is hardy outside the host, and it’s resistant to common household cleaners. Parvovirus can also survive winter conditions. The virus typically takes five to seven days to incubate. However, this period can be as short as three days or as long as 14 days.
After exposure, your dog can shed infected excretions, which can intermittently go on for up to two weeks. Therefore, the dog can be contagious for up to a month.
Ways to prevent parvo in dogs
Parvo is one of the most dangerous viruses that can harm your dog or puppy. It’s easily transmitted, thus making it hard to avoid. The good news is, you can prevent parvo without any hassles. Below are a few things you can do to keep your dog safe from parvo.
Vaccinate your dog
Vaccination is the best way of preventing your dog from a parvovirus infection. You should start the vaccination early, at the age of six to eight weeks. After this, your dog will require boosters every three weeks until they are 16 weeks old. Since parvo is harmful and contagious, your dog will require annual booster shots. While this schedule might seem more than necessary, you get to have some peace of mind that your dog is safe from parvo.
If your dog hasn’t finished their first round of vaccines, it is advisable to keep them away from other dogs. Any accidental exposure can get your dog sick. Therefore, keep your dog indoors until they have finished their first round of vaccines. A fully vaccinated dog may be resistant to parvovirus, but they can still carry the virus. This puts unvaccinated dogs at risk, especially puppies with weak immune systems.
Limit your contact with other dogs
Humans cannot contract parvovirus, but they can easily transmit it. If you aren’t taking any precautions, you can easily infect your dog with parvo. It’s advisable to steer clear of other dogs when you have an unvaccinated dog at home. Even when you come across vaccinated dogs, they can still carry and transmit the virus. Therefore, taking precautions, like changing your clothes once you get home, washing your hands thoroughly, and keeping your shoes away from your dog until you wash them, can help keep your dog safe.
You should also protect your dog from parvo at home. Everything around the house can carry parvovirus, and it’s hard to kill with ordinary house cleaners. Instead, you should bleach surfaces once in a while to ensure that you kill the virus. Remember that it can survive for five months or more on most surfaces. If you can’t disinfect anything within your house, you should discard it. This helps keep your dog safe until they’re vaccinated.
How do I help my dogs if they catch parvo?
If you suspect that your dog is infected with parvo, rushing to the vet for tests can help prevent much suffering. Your vet will diagnose the virus based on blood work and clinical signs. The vet may also run a test known as ELISA to look for any antigens in the feces.
Parvo can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, sepsis, and dehydration in dogs. Even though there isn’t a treatment for the virus, your vet will provide treatment to support the dog’s body systems. This helps the dog’s immune system fight the virus.
Treatment begins immediately, and it entails efforts to prevent secondary infections and combat dehydration. Dogs should also receive good nursing care and stay warm. It’s critical to recognize the symptoms early, thus leading to successful treatment outcomes.
Is there a way to disinfect my lawn after parvo in dogs?
You can disinfect your yard by carefully removing all visible feces repeatedly. You can also flush your yard with water and let it dry if possible. Applying a disinfectant with potassium peroxymonosulfate or AHP can also help disinfect your yard.
If your yard has cement rather than dirt and grass, you can clean or disinfect it with bleach. There is no guarantee that this will be 100% effective, but frequent cleaning can help disinfect the yard and give you some peace of mind. You can also prevent your dog from going to the yard until they are fully vaccinated.
Parvo is a highly contagious and serious disease. Understanding its symptoms, how it spreads, prevention measures, and treatment options can help keep your dogs safe. For more information on dealing with or treating parvo, it is advisable to always speak to your vet. You should also be on the lookout for symptoms, especially if your dog is unvaccinated. Besides watching out for the symptoms, observe different preventative measures to help keep your dog safe from parvo.