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What is parvovirus?

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that affects unvaccinated dogs and puppies. The most common symptoms of parvovirus are vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs may only have vomiting or diarrhea and some may simply not want to eat and be more lethargic than normal especially in the early stages.

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Protecting dogs against parvovirus

Vaccinations are available to protect dogs and puppies against parvovirus. Puppies generally are vaccinated at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks, and sometimes 14-16 weeks. They then get another vaccination after 1 year then every 1-3 years depending on the vaccine.

 Puppies that have received a full course of vaccinations more than 2 weeks ago and adult dogs that are up to date with their vaccinations should be immune to this virus.

Parvovirus is transmitted from one dog to another via infected fecal material (poo). As infected dogs have diarrhea in most cases anywhere an infected dog has been should be considered contaminated. It also means it is possible to bring the virus home to your dog simply by walking where a sick dog has been and getting the virus on your shoes.

What are the Stages of Parvo?

Here may be a quick summary of the stages of parvo then we’ll undergo each stage in additional detail:

Stage 1: Exposure to Parvo

Stage 2: period 3-5 Days from 1st Contact

Stage 3: Symptoms of Parvo Appear 5-8 Days from 1st Contact

Stage 4: Diagnosis of Parvo – Upon Medical Evaluation (This is Critical initially Sign of Symptoms)

Stage 5: Treatment of Parvo – Prescribed Home Care or Hospitalization

Stage 6: Recovery Time for Parvo – Approximately 14-20 days

Stage 7: Full Recovery & Re-Test Negative – Approximately 30-40 days after 1st contact

Treatment of parvovirus

Dogs with parvovirus signs need to be admitted to the hospital to be properly treated. A test is performed first to confirm infection. Veterinary attention should be sought as soon as possible if you think your dog may have parvovirus as dogs can die from this disease very quickly, this is especially true for young puppies. The most important part of treating parvovirus is giving intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. Medication is also given to relieve pain, prevent further infection and stop vomiting. Dogs may be in the hospital anywhere from overnight to 10 or more days. Most dogs are in hospital 3-4 nights. The majority of dogs with parvovirus survive if veterinary treatment is received soon after they become sick.

Cleaning up your house/yard after a dog has had parvovirus

Parvovirus is a virus that survives a long time in the environment and is very hard to kill. It can survive for several years in certain environments. Most regular household cleaners do not kill this virus.

Anywhere that a dog infected with parvovirus has been should be considered contaminated. This includes footwear and clothing are worn by people who have handled the dog while it is sick. Generally, if a dog has been in your house any room the dog has been in should be considered contaminated, any room the dogs bedding
has been in should be considered contaminated and if the dog has been in the yard the entire yard should be considered contaminated.

Before using any cleaners any feces (poo) should be collected, double bagged, and thrown out. Anything contaminated that can be thrown away and replaced should be. The best household cleaner to use to kill parvovirus is bleach (1 part bleach to 30 parts water). It should be used on hard surfaces including tiles, concrete, paving bottoms of shoes, etc – leave the bleach on the surface for at least 10-15 minutes. 

Anything that can be washed in bleach should be. A veterinary cleaner called F10 can be supplied in a spray bottle and used on items that cannot be cleaned with bleach.

If my dog is diagnosed with parvovirus should I get other dogs in my household vaccinated?

The short answer to this question is if they are well yes – get them vaccinated as soon as possible if they are not already up to date. You will also need to keep them away from any area contaminated with parvovirus until 2 weeks after their vaccination.

My dog has had parvovirus and is coming home, for how long is he/she still contagious?

Generally to be safe we assume a dog that has had parvovirus will be still contagious for 2 weeks. For this period you should shower and change after handling your dog before going out or handling other unvaccinated dogs. Clean clothing/bedding as described above. You should keep your dog either in an area that is already contaminated (don’t worry they won’t get it again – see below) or an area such as a bathroom or laundry that can be easily cleaned

If my dog has had parvovirus can they get it again?

Dogs that have previously had the virus are generally immune to the virus for life and should not get it again. It is possible for them to get a different strain of parvovirus later on but this is highly unlikely as immunity against one strain usually provides protection against other strains. We still recommend vaccination of dogs that have had parvovirus once they are well to protect them against the other diseases the vaccine covers.

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