Parvo Virus Facts
Parvo is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system. It causes dogs and puppies to not be able to absorb nutrients or liquids. Puppies are especially prone to it because they have an immature immune system. When dogs and puppies contract parvo, they often have diarrhea, vomiting, and are lethargic. Usually they stop eating and develop bloody, foul smelling, liquid stool.
Symptoms usually begin with a high fever, lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite. Secondary symptoms appear as severe, gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and bloody diarrhea. In many cases, dehydration, shock, and death follow. Without intense treatment, the victims of parvo die of dehydration. Treatment usually consists of IV or sub-cutaneous fluids and antibiotics. As there are no cures, symptoms can only be treated by trying to keep the dog alive by preventing dehydration and loss of proteins. Puppies who survive parvo infection usually remain somewhat unhealthy and weak for life and may get it again.
Generally it takes 7-10 days from the time of exposure for dogs and puppies to start showing the symptoms and to test positive for parvo. Parvo is highly contagious to unprotected dogs and the virus can remain infectious in ground contaminated with fecal matter for 6 months or longer if conditions are favorable. Extremely hardy, most disinfectants cannot kill the virus, however chlorine bleach is the most effective and inexpensive agent that works and is commonly used by veterinarians.
Dogs and puppies can contract parvo even if they never leave their yard. Parvo can be brought home to your dog on shoes, hands, and clothing, and even car tires. It can live for many months outside of the animal. Any areas that are thought to be contaminated with parvo should be thoroughly washed with chlorine bleach diluted 1oz to 1 liter of water.
The surest way to avoid parvo infection is to adhere to the recommended vaccination schedule which begins when puppies are 6-8 weeks of age. Puppies should not be allowed to socialize with other dogs or frequent areas where other dogs have been until 2 weeks after they have had their last vaccination.