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Should You Worry About Canine Parvovirus?


Vaccines are modern marvels responsible for saving innumerable – human and animal – lives. Pet owners committed to the prevention of all sorts of various illnesses have many questions about immunity, severity, risk of exposure, and frequency of vaccinations. We’re always here to assist your dog with advanced care, diagnostics, and treatments, but prevention is the key. Of the infectious diseases, canine parvovirus can be effectively avoided.

Highly Contagious

Most commonly, canine parvovirus infects the digestive system and the immune system. In rare cases, however, the heart of a young puppy can be at risk of attack.

Dogs of all ages and breeds can contract the disease, which is shed in the vomit or stool of an infected dog (and who hasn’t seen a dog sniff or sample another dog’s poop?). Robust enough to survive in the environment for up to a year, canine parvovirus is difficult to eliminate.


Three-Fold Attack

The highly contagious symptoms of canine parvovirus result from the following three-fold attack:

  • Intestinal lining destruction – When the virus enters through the mouth, it will soon invade and alter the GI tract. Bloody vomiting and diarrhea can lead quickly to dehydration.
  • Bacterial leakage – The cells lining the intestines are destroyed, resulting in sepsis from the bacteria seeping into the bloodstream.
  • Compromised immune system – The immune cells are produced in the bone marrow and are a prime target of this systemic infection.

Symptoms typically surface 3-10 days after exposure. Quick action is one of the only ways a dog can recover from canine parvovirus. If you notice any of the following, seek emergency help:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody or foul-smelling diarrhea
  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

Treating Canine Parvovirus

If your dog is struck with canine parvovirus, intravenous fluids will be administered to curtail dehydration along with antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. Medications to stop vomiting and diarrhea, nutritional support, and temperature regulation are also important to treatment.

A virus with no cure, parvo is especially difficult to eradicate within the home. A bleach solution is necessary to kill parvovirus on floors and surfaces throughout the house.

An Ounce of Prevention

The vaccine to prevent canine parvovirus (i.e., DHPP) is very effective and safe. Puppies should be vaccinated in stages until 16 weeks old. Until then, puppies should not frequent areas commonly populated by other dogs, such as parks or pet stores. Adult dogs receive regular boosters to provide excellent immunity.

This is a frightening disease, but by adhering to vaccination schedules, canine parvovirus is easily preventable. If you have any questions about how to keep your dog as healthy as possible, please give us a call.


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Heart of Texas Veterinary Specialty Center & 24 Hour Emergency Center


115 E Old Settlers Blvd Round Rock, TX 78664

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