Canine Parvovirus, commonly known as Parvo, is one of the scariest diseases a dog can contract, simply because it can kill quickly. While there is no “cure” for the disease, many dogs do recuperate from it with early intervention and proper care.
In most cases, Parvo attacks the dog’s intestinal tract, but in some cases, it may also affect the heart. There are several myths or half-truths related with Parvo, and some of these may cause you as a pet owner to infect other dogs.
Myth #1: Canine Parvovirus is airborne. Parvo is not airborne. A dog must come into physical contact with the Parvovirus to contract the disease. Generally, dogs contract it by sniffing, eating or licking an infected dog’s feces or vomit. When a dog sniffs, its nose usually touches the object it sniffs. The virus enters the body through the respiratory system because the dog touched it.
Dogs can also pick up the virus by touching anything that an infected dog touched, including bedding, grass in the yard, brushes and clothing on a human that was not disinfected after handling a Parvo-infected dog.
Myth #2: Parvo cannot be cured. While it is true that there is no cure for Parvo, some dogs recover from the virus with specific veterinary care, including medications and IV fluids.
Myth #3: Yards can carry the Parvovirus for six months. Canine Parvovirus is extremely hardy. Some will tell you that the virus lasts for at least six months and some say up to two years. The only easily-available household chemical that will kill the virus is bleach. If your dog had Parvo, check with your veterinarian for a cleaning schedule for your yard and your home, and for the best way to minimize reinfection or infecting other dogs in your home.
Myth #4: Only puppies get Parvo. Like all contagious viruses, the Parvo virus attacks the young, old and weak, but it does not preclude healthy dogs from contracting it. Generally puppies — especially those that were taken from their mother too early — get the virus because their immune system is not up to par at such a young age. Also, when a puppy is taken from its mother too early — usually earlier than eight weeks — the puppy does not get the full benefits of the mother’s antibodies. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations for Canine Parvovirus and other puppy and adult dog vaccinations.
Myth #5: My dog has been vaccinated against Canine Parvovirus so it will never contract the disease. Generally, your dog should be safe against the virus, but remember, nothing is certain except death and taxes. If you vaccinate your dogs as recommended, your dog is most likely safe. If you are not comfortable with vaccinations, yearly titers are recommended to determine the antibodies in your dog. If a titer shows low antibodies, you should vaccinate your dog.
The signs. The earliest signs of Parvo can be easily overlooked. Infected canines can suffer from abrupt and continuous vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Other signs include sudden loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, and dehydration. If you are seeing any of these symptoms, your dog should be given a complete physical examination and a laboratory test.
Conclusion: Canine Parvovirus is nothing to fool around with. If you suspect your dog has the virus, immediately contact your veterinarian for instruction and care. All is not lost if your dog contracts the virus. Often, dogs respond well to IV fluids, and medication to control vomiting and diarrhea. Your veterinarian will also instruct you how to clean the area. Remember that you must clean your entire house, your car, your clothes and your yard. If you have other dogs in the house, you will have to isolate the infected dog. You also may need to have treatment for the other dogs, especially if they have a low immune system or have not been vaccinated for the Parvovirus.
Author Bio: Joy Islam is a recent college graduate, proud owner of an adventurous pup named Tiger, and writes about pet health care on behalf of SpayXperts.