Canine parvovirus, also known as parvo, is a highly contagious virus that causes severe intestinal illness, malaise, and weight loss. The disease is difficult to treat, and thus most cases end in death. Dogs of all ages are susceptible to parvo, but the disease is most common in puppies. So it's important to take action to protect your little one.
Thankfully, there is a vaccine available for parvo. The parvovirus vaccine is one of the core vaccines for dogs, which means it is recommended for all puppies of all breeds and in all living situations. It is usually administered when your puppy gets his first round of vaccines around 6 to 8 weeks of age. However, a booster is needed at about 4 months of age. A puppy is not fully protected from the virus until he's had this booster shot, so up until that point, it's important to follow the other strategies below to prevent infection.
If you had another dog before and plan on using any of the same crates, dog bowls, beds or other items for your new puppy, it's essential to disinfect these items before allowing the puppy to come into contact with them. Dogs can carry parvovirus without showing symptoms themselves, and the virus can live on surfaces for several months. Make sure you disinfect all of these items with a bleach and water solution. If you get any hand-me-down items from friends or purchase used dog items at garage sales, make sure you disinfect these too.
Isolating Your Puppy
You want to minimize your puppy's contact with other dogs until he or she has had that 4-month parvovirus booster. You never know if a dog you meet in the dog park, down the street, or at a neighbor's house is carrying parvo. Dogs can be contagious before they start showing symptoms, so just because a dog does not appear to be ill does not mean it's not carrying parvo. The safest place for your puppy is at home. Stay away from dog parks and the homes of friends who have dogs. Practice walking your puppy around your own yard, but don't go down the street yet. You never know if a dog with parvo has passed and left the virus on a lamp post, pot, or plot of soil that your puppy will sniff and lick.
To learn more about parvo and how to protect your furry friend, speak with your vet or local animal hospital, such as Basking Ridge Animal Hospital.