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Your dog needs you to help protect him from parvovirus.

Parvo has no definite cure, is expensive to treat, and can be fatal. But there is good news: parvo is easy to prevent.

 

What is parvo?

Parvo is caused by a virus (canine parvovirus type 2). It’s abundantly present in the feces of infected animals and persists in the environment for years. Transmission is via the fecal-oral route. If your dog’s mouth comes into contact with infected feces, there could be trouble.

The dogs most at risk for parvo are unvaccinated puppies two to six months of age when antibody levels from the mother are reduced. Parvovirus attacks the cells lining the puppy’s small intestine, causing the intestinal wall to die. If your puppy has parvo, the first symptoms will be anorexia, lethargy, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The virus also kills the puppy’s white blood cells. Bacteria enter the bloodstream through the weakened intestinal barrier. Dehydration then occurs. Electrolyte imbalance, protein loss and sepsis (bacteria and bacterial toxins overwhelming the bloodstream) follow. In certain cases, the events lead to death.

We don’t have a guaranteed cure for parvo. If your puppy has parvo, the best a vet can do is manage the complications — essentially keep your puppy alive — until its immune system can defeat the virus. Treating a parvo puppy costs approximately ten times more than preventing the disease with regular vaccines.

 

How to protect your puppy from parvo

All puppies should be vaccinated against parvo every 3-4 weeks beginning at 6-8 weeks of age until at least 16 weeks of age. The sequence stimulates the puppy’s immune system to generate antibodies to parvo. All vaccines should be administered by or under the supervision of a veterinarian.

If you have a pure-bred puppy, heads up: new owners often believe the breeders take care of all the shots. That’s not true. Breeders do often administer the first round of vaccines at 6-8 weeks, but new owners have to follow up with the subsequent vaccines.

Not sure if your puppy needs parvo shots? Call us. We’ll help make sure your puppy is protected.