Imagine bringing home that sweet, big-eyed, floppy-eared puppy only to discover after a few days that the little one is sick. If ever an ounce of prevention is suitable, it’s in doing your homework before such a disaster occurs.
One action the caretaker of a new puppy would be wise to take is to bring the baby to meet its veterinarian as soon as possible. It’s also useful to know beforehand where your puppy came from, ie., shelter, or licensed breeder, and whether it has been provided with any immunity to canine diseases from its mother’s milk. Before taking it home, be prepared to ask whether any vaccinations have been provided for the animal you’re considering adopting.
The canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that is not transmittable to humans. It is a hardy virus, able to withstand extremes in its environment, and can exist for a long time where it’s deposited. It can be spread from dog-to-dog contact, or contact with the excretions of an infected dog. Wherever an infected dog has defecated, whether at a playground or animal shelter, obedience school, or pet store, the virus can remain there to infect another dog who has not been immunized, unless a thorough cleaning has been done. Parvovirus can be carried on the fur of an exposed animal, or even on the soles of a person’s shoes, to another site. For this reason, dog owners should keep their pets away from dog feces wherever they may walk their pooches, even on city streets.
The symptoms of this illness can include fever, depression, appetite loss, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. Symptoms will usually show up in 5-7 days after a dog is exposed to the virus. Infected dogs may lose fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea, and suffer dehydration. The effects of the virus may be fatal, especially in puppies whose immune systems may not be strong enough to fight the infection. Most deaths occur within 48-72 hours of symptoms becoming evident.
Vaccination against the parvovirus has greatly prevented its spread, but care must always be taken to continue the protection that immunizations provide. Ask your pet’s veterinarian for a schedule of vaccinations for your pup and stick to them. Puppies up to six months of age are at special risk of acquiring parvovirus. For that reason, taking your new pet out to play may be risky, if it hasn’t had its shots and there have been dogs infected with the parvovirus in the vicinity.
Wherever parvovirus has infected dogs, care should be taken to disinfect items properly to prevent the spread of the illness. Cleaning with a bleach solution can be undertaken, but ask your vet for instructions as to quantities of bleach and water in order to create the most effective mixture.
With proper planning, you may manage to protect your pet from this and other canine disease. Follow your vet’s recommendations for vaccinations, remain alert about any canine illness going around, and keep your puppy’s eyes shining with health.