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Canine Parvovirus

What Is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus, sometimes called ‘parvo', is a potentially fatal infectious disease spread by virus. Parvo affects dogs of all ages, but most cases occur in puppies 6 to 20 weeks of age.

How Do Dogs Catch Canine Parvovirus?

The virus:

  • spreads when dogs come in contact with the feces of an infected animal
  • is very hardy and can remain infective in an environment for several months
  • can be caught in any location where other dogs have visited, especially parks
  • is known to survive on inanimate objects e.g. clothing, food bowls and cage floors
  • is very difficult to remove from a contaminated area

What Are The Symptoms?

The usual incubation period (time from exposure to the virus to the time when signs of disease appear) is from 4-14 days. Common signs that a dog may have canine parvovirus include:

  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy and depression
  • vomiting
  • bloody diarrhea

A veterinarian can make a proper diagnosis by looking for signs and through a test that detects the virus in feces.

How Is Canine Parvovirus Treated?

If a dog is showing the common signs listed above, they should immediately be taken to a veterinary hospital for intensive treatment. This may involve:

  • intravenous fluids for rehydration
  • anti-emetics to stop vomiting
  • antibiotics to treat bacterial infections that arise secondary to the parvoviral disease pain relief for the severe abdominal pain caused by this viral infection

Vaccinations Against Canine Parvovirus

All dogs should be vaccinated against canine parvovirus. While puppies may get some immunity against the disease from their mother, this is short-lived. To protect your dog from canine parvovirus, they should have:

  • several vaccinations in the first 3-4 months of life
  • booster vaccinations throughout life

Talk to your veterinarian about vaccination against canine parvovirus for your dog. Learn more about all the vaccinations your puppy needs.

Precautions Before Vaccination

Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, keep them away from other dogs and potential sources of infection such as parks. Always check your shoes to make sure you haven't brought home any potentially infected dog feces or soil

Additional Information

Veterinary Partner: The Pet Health Library
*Parvovirus Information Centre
By Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, Dip AVBP

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