I love puppies. I mean, who doesn’t?
I thrive on the opportunity to nurture a tiny puppy into a mature, confident adult through proper socialization. However, there’s more to socializing your new puppy than taking him/her everywhere with you.
When we got Mauja at 8 weeks, we were living in sunny California. I knew she needed to be vaccinated; that’s just something you do with puppies, but I had no idea the seriousness of keeping up with her vaccines.
At our first puppy class, the trainer gave us an extensive lesson on canine parvovirus and how to balance the fear of the disease with proper socialization. Parvo was far too common in California so it was extremely important that we were properly prepared.
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that can be seen in two forms: intestinal and cardiac. The cardiac form of parvo is much less common than intestinal, but more deadly. Thankfully, keeping pregnant females vaccinated has helped to lower the incidence of cardiac parvo. When vaccinated moms nurse their puppies, they pass on the antibodies to help protect them during their first weeks of life (when they are most susceptible to cardiac parvo).
Unfortunately, puppies only nurse until they are about 5 weeks which leads them to be susceptible to parvo, especially between 6 to 20 weeks. This is why keeping your puppy vaccinated is of utmost importance. It is also vital to keep your dog up to date on parvo vaccines as dogs of any age can contract the disease.
How does a puppy get parvo?
Parvo is transmitted through the feces of an infected dog. It is extremely common (and normal) for puppies to eat feces, but even if they don’t, they can still contract parvo. Your puppy can get a tiny fragment of fecal matter on their paws while walking about in public places. Many dogs then lick their paws which transmits the disease.
So what are the signs of parvo?
- lack of appetite
- weight loss
How can it be treated?
Since there is no cure for parvo, it can be very difficult to treat if not caught early. Any puppy with vomiting and/or diarrhea should be taken to the vet immediately to check for parvo. Parvo can be detected through virus antigens in the stool or through a blood serum test.
In most cases of parvo, extreme vet measures are needed to ensure your puppy stays hydrated and to correct electrolyte imbalances. Severe cases may require plasma transfusions or other veterinary care.
What is the outcome?
When parvo is caught early and the puppy receives proper veterinary care, most puppies recover without any lasting issues. However, many times parvo is not caught early enough. Often times, people assume that their puppy got into something they shouldn’t have and don’t seek veterinary care. The lack of urgency can lead to a much more difficult treatment process or even death.
How can it be prevented?
Most importantly, stay up to date on your puppy’s vaccinations. Puppies should receive appropriate vaccinations at 8, 12, and 16 weeks (some vets add in a fourth round).
Also, keep your puppy out of public places where infected dogs could be. Socialization is one of the most important things at a young age, but it should be done safely. Carrying your puppy or keeping him/her in a stroller is a great way to socialize in a safe way. Stick to play dates with known dogs that are up to date on their vaccinations.
Although canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and scary disease, it can be prevented. Keep your puppy vaccinated and in safe environments to nurture a happy, healthy puppy.
This post is part of the Caring for Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like a Dog. You can find a huge list of helpful posts about a variety of pet illnesses and needs by clicking on the image above. Check out yesterday’s post from Kol’s Notes and tune in tomorrow to Talking Dogs for the next post!