Parvo shots in dogs should be as mandatory as the rabies vaccine. Why? Because Parvo is a deadly disease that spreads silently, infecting dogs long before any signs of the disease appear. Puppies are especially vulnerable to parvovirus.
If a puppy survives the first four days (after hospital admission and treatment), there’s a reasonable chance of full recovery and lifetime immunity. Unfortunately, that’s not a typical scenario.
There should be no question about the importance of parvo shots for dogs. Parvovirus (canine influenza) is highly contagious and is transmitted through the feces of other dogs. It’s a strong and stubborn virus that can withstand the normal means of disinfection.
In fact, dogs don’t have to be in direct contact with each other to get it. Dogs pick up the virus through inhalation or ingestion of contaminated feces which is easily spread around on from the dog’s paw or from the soles of our shoes.
The virus takes about a week before it shows up in the dog’s feces. That process of “shedding” can last for up to 10 days after the virus has passed. If everybody was required by law to get parvo shots for dogs, the risks would be greatly minimized.
Parvo is so contagious that dogs who have it must be quarantined until all signs of the disease have passed. Any interaction with other, non-vaccinated dogs will surely pass along the disease.
Getting parvo shots for dogs is the only way to protect your dog from this potentially fatal virus. There’s a lot to learn about parvo and, by the end of this post, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of how serious the virus is.
13 Life Saving Reasons for Parvo Shots in Dogs
#1 Prevent a Tragic & Painful Death
Young puppies are only protected by maternal antibodies for 2 – 3 days but have to wait until they’re 6 weeks of age to get their first parvo shot. That leaves a window of opportunity for the puppy to contract the virus.
Parvo shots for dogs do not provide full protection right after the first needle. Subsequent boosters are needed in order to get optimal protection.
Dr. Poi talks about parvo in the following video.
A dog can still become infected with the parvo virus after the inoculation. This happens when the dog has already contracted the disease (pre- vaccine) but isn’t showing any obvious signs or symptoms. In that case, the dog was already positive for parvo well before the vaccine was given.
The weeks pass by quickly and it’s easy to forget when the core vaccinations are due. Think ahead and add it to your reminders, your calendar notifications, or use a reminder app.
The best idea is to make the appointment ahead of time. If you wait until the last minute, you may not be able to get an appointment right away and the longer you wait, the more at-risk your dog becomes.
# 2. Get Parvo out of the Environment
The parvo virus can live unchecked in the environment for up to a year. This means that dog parks, kennels, hiking trails, or even your backyard could be potential hot spots.
Doggy daycares are gaining in popularity; however, it’s important to make sure the company conforms to cleanliness standards. That means they should be disinfecting toys, floors, kennels, bowls, dishes, and anything else the dogs use.
Generally, they should be using a solution of 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water for effective sterilization of surfaces.
PEPTO BISMOL IS NOT A HOME CURE FOR PARVO!
One good way to keep parvovirus out of the environment (in addition to vaccinations) is to clean up after your pet and encourage others to do the same.
#3. Parvo Shots in Dogs For Travel
It’s easier to find apartments that allow pets these days. Hotels are offering pet-friendly rooms and airlines are working hard to ensure safe travel for your pooch. Doggy daycares are pretty much a common thing now.
In order to allow for growth in the companion pet market, and to avoid transmitting disease, policies have to be in place. Often, those policies include showing proof of vaccinations.
#4 Parvo Shots in Dogs are a Safe and Sure-Fire Way to Prevent Outbreaks
There tends to be controversy over the safe use of vaccinations in babies and children. However, if it weren’t for vaccinations some of the world’s deadliest diseases (smallpox anyone? How about a little polio?) would still be circulating.
It’s because of inoculations in humans that many diseases have pretty much vanished. When’s the last time you had to keep your child home from school due to tuberculosis? Exactly.
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It’s the same thing with dogs. Vaccines are what protect them from contagious and deadly disease.
If you have fears about the safety of parvo shots in dogs, please bring it up with the veterinarian before deciding against it. The same holds true if you’re concerned about the cost of vaccinating against parvo.
#5 Avoid Long-Term Complications
Although very few studies have been done to determine the long- term effects of dogs who’ve actually survived the parvovirus, there is some evidence to suggest that dogs may be faced with weakened immune systems leading to skin conditions. So, even if your dog were to survive parvo, there’s a chance he/she may have a lifetime of chronic conditions. These could involve the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, and more.
It’s estimated that approximately 15% of puppies with parvo virus will die. Even those dogs who survive will likely suffer chronically weakened immune systems or other conditions throughout his/her life.
A high mortality rate in puppies is related, in part, to their size. A smaller dog has a lot less blood and fluids to lose resulting in shock and death. Parvo shots in dogs can prevent your puppy from suffering a painful death.
When the virus is ingested, it usually takes hold in the lymph nodes first. From there, the virus gets into the gastrointestinal system and the dog begins vomiting. Vomiting and diarrhea are the two main symptoms of parvovirus followed by dehydration, shock, and death. It can also cause myocarditis which is an inflammation of the heart that results in heart failure.
#6 Some Breeds Are Thought to Get it Worse
Certain breeds such as English Springer Spaniels, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers are thought to develop a much more severe version of the virus if contracted.
#7 Keep Parvo out of Your Home
Parvo shots in dogs help prevent puppies and adult dogs from suffering a horrible disease. Parvo can be carried in the body for 3 to 7 days during the incubation period, but it can last in the environment (including inside your home) for up to a full year.
If your dog has suffered through the parvovirus, you’re going to have to sterilize the floors, walls, any bedding where the dog has lain, etc. Don’t forget the outdoors either. The deck, driveway, garage, and any other solid surface will need to be disinfected with bleach. You’ll also need to keep your dog away from other pets and possibly quarantined depending on what stage the virus is in.
#8 Stop the Spread
Infected dogs quickly spread the virus through direct contact , or through feces. The virus can be spread from the hands of handlers, from the dog’s feet or fur, and from contaminated soil. Puppies love to smell and put things in their mouths. It’s how they learn about the environment. Unfortunately, this also puts them at high risk.
#9 You Won’t be Able to Socialize Your Pup
An infected dog can begin shedding the virus four-to-five days after exposure — often before the dog starts exhibiting any clinical signs of infection. The dog will continue to shed the virus while he is sick and for up to 10 days after he has recovered.
Saving your dog’s life is going to be expensive. If you’re worried about the cost of parvo shots in dogs, consider the expensive of emergency care. It requires hospitalization and 24/7 care. Parvovirus treatment can cost $1200 and up. In fact, some medical bills could go as high as $5000 or more!
The expense comes from the need for IV fluid therapy, antibiotics, medications to ease gastrointestinal upset, and overnight hospital care. Sometimes Pepto-Bismol helps ease the stomach.
It might be difficult to come up with a few hundred dollars for the core vaccines, but it has to be easier than coming up with thousands for parvo treatment.
Need help with vaccination costs? Check out the resources at the bottom of the post.
The American Kennel Club offers a complete guide to vaccinations.
#11 Give Your Dog Half a Chance
Older dogs can get the parvovirus even if they were vaccinated. However, the virus is less deadly and dog’s respond much better to treatment if they’ve already been vaccinated as a puppy.
Parvo shots in dogs are your responsibility. By getting the vaccinations, you’ll be giving your dog a big immunity boost that will last throughout his/her life (don’t forget to keep up with the booster shots).
#12 Educate Others About Parvovirus
There’s a good chance you know someone who is against vaccinations for one reason or another. Yes, there are risks associated with vaccinations but they are typically mild side-effects. These include a low fever, fatigue, low appetite, and a little pain or swelling at the site of the injection. Less common side-effects could include vomiting, diarrhea, and even anaphylactic shock.
If you are facing people who are against vaccinations in dogs, use the opportunity to educate. Show them this post and have them talk to a veterinarian. A licensed veterinarian is the best source of information about parvovirus vaccinations.
The chances of a dog having a severe reaction to vaccination is rare. However, the risk of a puppy contracting parvo is high in comparison.
Any vomiting or diarrhea associated with the vaccine will be mild compared to the hemorrhagic diarrhea and profuse vomiting that accompanies the parvo virus.
The risks of the actual disease far outweigh the risk of the vaccination.
#13 Help Prevent Parvo Mutations
According to a post written by the Baker Institute for Animal Health (College of Veterinary Medicine Cornell University), the virus first arrived in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Austria in 1978.
At the time, as mentioned above, a similar virus in cats crossed over to infect dogs. The virus was swift and deadly. In just two years it spread across the globe, killing thousands of dogs in its wake.
The longer a virus survives in the environment, the better chance it has of mutating into something even deadlier. It’s possible for viruses to morph into disease that can be passed along to humans (zoonotic) and can even change enough to render the current parvovirus extinct.
The parvo vaccine has been tested (and continues to be tested) for changes in the virus, allowing scientists to head off an epidemic through the administration of parvo vaccinations.
By having your dog vaccinated properly, you could be stopping new viruses from ever forming in the first place.
At the end of the day, we want the best for our dogs throughout their entire lives. From the minute they’re born, dogs need our care and attention. Yes, their mothers provide immediate antibodies that protect them, but it doesn’t last for long.
It’s important to keep young, unvaccinated puppies away from other dogs. Even after they receive the initial parvo vaccine, they can still contract the disease. That’s why it’s important to follow up with the booster shots. It’s safer to assume that the parvo virus is out there and act accordingly.
You can always shop around for the best price or ask your veterinarian about payment options. The cost of vaccinating your dog is an investment in his/her health. Not having your dog vaccinated is a gamble that could cost you a lot of money and heartache in the long run.
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