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Parvo – Deadly but Preventable

By April 24, 2017 No Comments



Parvovirus (or Parvo) is a very deadly virus that can be easily prevented with proper vaccination and clean conditions. Many puppies who contract parvo are either not vaccinated, or are in an area where previous dogs had parvovirus and it was laying dormant until the puppy came into contact with it. Most puppies who get parvo do not live through it unfortunately. It is very difficult for them to overcome and expensive to keep the pet in a quarantined area in a veterinary hospital while being treated.

Parvo has an incubation period of about 7 days until they start showing symptoms of the virus. This is one of the biggest reasons puppies should be kept away from other puppies and public areas until they are fully vaccinated. They could be playing with another happy, seemingly healthy puppy, and then a week later be deathly ill.

It can kill dogs in one of two ways: either diarrhea and vomiting can lead to severe dehydration and shock and death is the result. The other way is loss of the intestinal barrier which allows bacterial invasion of potentially the entire body. Septic toxins from these bacteria result in death. A majority of puppies who contract parvovirus do not make it. Since there is not cure for parvo once a pet gets it, it is the supportive care they require that hopefullyThe ones that do though have a very high immunity to parvovirus the rest of their life.

Parvovirus is extremely hard to disinfect. If an infected puppy has been found, then everywhere that puppy was as well as any person who had contact with it is carrying the parvovirus around and spreading it. It can be literally anywhere, carpet, furniture, clothes, shoes, the yard, etc. And it can stay there for 6 months-1 year just waiting for an unvaccinated dog to come through and infect them.

Puppies are the most easily infected by parvo since they are so young and their mother’s milk has antibodies in it fighting diseases for them, but it cannot stop the parvo. This is why a puppy is not considered fully vaccinated until 16 weeks of age – that is how long the mother’s milk’s antibodies can stay in effect. After that age, it is the puppy that has the immunity – not the mother fighting the disease for them. This is why it is very important to keep a non-fully vaccinated puppy away from public areas as much as possible until they are finished with their vaccine series.


This is a puppy, severely ill from parvovirus. She cannot even hold herself up.


When they have parvovirus, puppies are very lethargic and have trouble maintaining their body temperature and become severely dehydrated (as shown in the above picture).


Once they start feeling better and they can keep down food again, they can start taking oral medications.

If you have any questions on Parvovirus please contact us at 410-848-3100.

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