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How Can Dogs Catch Parvo?

How can dogs catch parvo?

You are a dog lover. You love your new, cuddly puppy as much as you do your more mature dog. In your quest to provide for your dog’s health and well-being, it is important that you take measures to protect your dog from becoming infected with “parvo.”

Most dog owners have heard of parvo, which is short for a frightening doggy illness called canine parvovirus. Here is some basic information about canine parvovirus and some things you can do to help keep your dog safe and healthy.

Canine parvovirus is a nasty virus that is highly contagious and is most likely to affect puppies that are six weeks old to younger than six months old or any dogs that have not been vaccinated or not completely vaccinated.

This virus attacks your dog’s gastrointestinal system to cause vomiting, diarrhea, body temperature fluctuations, and dangerous dehydration. In rare cases, it can infect your dog’s lymph nodes and bone marrow, which can lead to heart problems.

You must take canine parvovirus seriously because it is so transmissible and it can be fatal. Left untreated, it can kill an infected dog as quickly as within two to three days. The good news is that more than 9 out of 10 treated dogs that are infected survive after about 7 to 10 days of illness.

If your dog catches parvovirus, in addition to your dog’s discomfort and the fear of losing your dog, you will be facing veterinarian and animal hospital bills that could range up to several thousand dollars or more.

How Can My Dog Catch Parvovirus?

Parvovirus is highly contagious and easily transmissible. The virus is also very resilient, which means that it can hang around a long time and is hard to kill. It doesn’t take much exposure to harm your dog, either; because even a small trace of feces can carry the virus and infect your dog.

Indoors, parvovirus can survive 2 months or more at room temperature and it is resistant to most of your common household cleaners and disinfectants.

Outdoors, where your dog especially loves to sniff and lick everything in sight, parvovirus can live in the lawn, bushes, weeds, and even the ground for several months or even years if it isn’t exposed to direct sunlight. Parvovirus can thrive despite being exposed to hot or cold temperatures and can even live in feces that has been dry for a long time.

Parvovirus can be transmitted to your dog through both direct and indirect contact.

How Can Dogs Catch Parvo? 3

Direct Transmission Of Parvovirus

Dogs, and especially puppies, explore the world by constantly sniffing and licking. Your dog can catch parvovirus if its nose or mouth comes into contact with parvo-infected feces or if it just licks or sniffs a contaminated surface.

Indirect Transmission

Parovirus can thrive on many kinds of surfaces once they have been exposed to the virus. The possiblities are endless, but the most common would include:

  • Clothing of people who have come in contact with infected feces
  • Leashes and other restraints 
  • Collars of any type
  • Human skin that has contacted infected feces or surfaces
  • Food bowls
  • Water bowls
  • Kennel surfaces
  • Shoes that have stepped in even a trace of infected feces or walked on infected soil or plant material
  • Dog feet and fur of dogs that have walked on infected feces

Signs That My Dog Has Parvovirus

If your dog catches parvovirus, symptoms will usually present within 3 to 10 days after exposure. Here’s the progression of indicators that your dog may have parvovirus and that you should get it to your vet as quickly as possible:

  1. Lethargy – your dog is moping around or disinterested
  2. Lost weight or lost appetite
  3. Bloody diarrhea and/or vomiting

How Can I Protect My Dog From Parvovirus?

Here are steps you can take to protect your dog:

  1. Vaccination. Shots are given at 6-8 weeks of age, 10-12 weeks, 14-16 weeks, and 1 year. Adult dogs should get a booster shot every year, based on your veterinarian’s recommendation
  2. Isolation. Keep your dog away from other dogs until after the second vaccination shot
  3. Containment. Avoid public areas with other dogs until yours is fully vaccinated
  4. Precaution. Carry your dog into the vet and keep him on your lap in the lobby

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