Every veterinarian in Phoenix, AZ received notices about the parvovirus (parvo) outbreak in this area. The virus remains in the environment for years, and starts to spread when it encounters an unvaccinated host. The good news is that it is preventable and can be treated. Here are six important facts to know about parvo:
Parvo kills through dehydration
The disease resulting from parvovirus exposure is called parvoviral enteritis. It compromises the immune response by stripping away the intestinal lining and making fluid retention impossible. Severe dehydration makes it impossible for your dog’s system to fight off the infection and produces severe diarrhea, often with blood in the stools. If left untreated, death results from intestinal ruptures and peritonitis. It is not a merciful death.
It is primarily a puppy disease
Adult dogs that receive their vaccinations on schedule rarely contract parvo. The disease primarily affects unvaccinated or under-vaccinated puppies and young dogs. If your dog suffers an immune deficiency, it is a good practice to keep them away from puppies until they received all their vaccinations. After all, parvo exists in the environment and can remain active for years. That is why vaccinations are so important.
There are several vaccinations in the schedule
The first vaccine is administered at six to eight weeks of age, and then every three to four weeks up until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Some breeds are more vulnerable to parvo, and your vet will let you know if this is the case with your dog. In these cases, additional vaccines are necessary, but the virus is still preventable. It is vital that you are on time with all vaccinations.
Parvo is treatable
If your puppy catches the virus before finishing the vaccine sequence, there is still hope for treatment. It is effective, but also aggressive and expensive. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance of a full recovery. Success with vary by individual. There are puppies that have been on the verge of death and made a complete recovery, but results are never guaranteed.
Know the symptoms
Early symptoms include reduced energy, lack of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Many people notice a complete lack of normal puppy behavior, so if your usually playful puppy suddenly loses the desire to engage and play, take her to a vet immediately. You may discover that the symptoms are not parvo, but it is not worth the risk to wait and see.
Vaccination is the best course of action
Keeping up with vaccines is more affordable and effective than any treatment after exposure. Until you finish that cycle, limit contact with other dogs and supervise your puppy when you are out and about. The virus is contracted through ingestion, so do not allow your dog to eat strange items. While this is often taken for granted as typical canine behavior, it can be deadly considering this current outbreak.
See your veterinarian in Phoenix, AZ soon if it is time for your puppy to receive a parvo immunization. Call Christown Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.
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