Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus contracted by dogs. It is spread by the bodily secretions such as feces, urine and saliva of infected dogs. However, the virus can survive in the soil for years. It takes approximately 7-10 days for a dog exposed to Parvovirus to begin showing symptoms and test positive for Parvovirus. The virus is very hard to kill in the environment and requires a strong bleach or virucidal disinfectant to kill it.
- Not eating or drinking
- Diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
Treatment is aimed at restoring hydration through intravenous fluids to make up for fluid losses from vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics are also given to prevent secondary bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract. Despite treatment, unfortunately some dogs are not able to fight off the virus and do not survive. Dogs infected with Parvovirus that are not brought in for veterinary treatment are at a very high risk of dying from dehydration, infection and sometimes blood loss. Recovery generally takes about a week depending on how severely affected the dog is. Treatment is generally costly due to the length of hospitalization. An average Parvovirus case costs approximately $1000-$3000.
Prevention is simple and effective. Puppies require a course of vaccinations starting from 6-8 weeks of age and then 2 monthly boosters after this. Then annual vaccinations are required to maintain immunity against the virus.
QUICK FACT: Vaccinating your puppy/dog against Parvovirus is only approximately 1/12th of the cost spent treating a sick dog with Parvovirus, if they live…
TIP: Be wary of vaccinations able to be bought online or not from a veterinary clinic. These types of vaccinations often need to be given at very close intervals (eg. every 2 weeks for several months) and sometimes still do not provide protection against Parvovirus.
If you suspect your dog is showing symptoms of Parvovirus and is at risk (ie. not vaccinated) give the veterinary clinic a call before you come in for treatment so staff can give you some instructions prior to your arrival. It is important to let the clinic know you are here before bringing your dog in so they can get an area ready where the dog will not spread the virus. It is also important to carry your dog in so that it does not spread the virus around the clinic whilst walking in.
Since Parvovirus can be virtually anywhere, it is important if you have just bought a new puppy to find out its vaccination history and make sure you receive the papers to show that he has actually been immunized. Make sure you do not take it to areas where lots of dogs have been (ie. parks, walking tracks) until fully vaccinated. Also, when taking your puppy to the vet clinic, ensure you carry him until he goes in to the consult room to ensure he does not pick up any virus. Although veterinary clinics disinfect on a daily basis it is impossible to totally prevent any virus from being brought in by clients and their pets.