If you have a new puppy, you’ve probably heard about parvovirus. You may even know someone who’s dog contracted the highly contagious disease.
If so, you already have a good understanding of how dangerous the virus can be.
No matter what your thoughts are on vaccinations, it’s vital that you get your dog vaccinated against parvovirus. The most common side-effects of the vaccine are a much better trade-off than the virus itself.
In this post, we’re going to talk about parvo shots in domestic dogs and their importance in protecting puppies from serious illness.
Read this post to learn more about parvovirus, the parvo vaccine, side-effects of the vaccine, and reasons why your dog can benefit from it.
What is Parvovirus in Puppies?
Canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV), or parvo, first appeared in dogs in Europe and the United States in the late 1990’s. It was quickly recognized as a highly contagious and deadly virus in pets and wild animals including:
In just two years, the virus became a global problem. The result was an epidemic of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, and immunosuppression.
What is Parvovirus B19?
Parvovirus B19 only infects humans. Most commonly, it causes Fifth disease and causes a mild rash-type illness in children. Less common symptoms of Parvovirus 19 infection in humans include:
- painful or swollen joints
- severe anemia
Parvovirus B19 spreads through respiratory secretions but it cannot be passed from animals to humans or visa versa. That means it is not zoonotic (doesn’t jump between species).
Is My Puppy at Risk of Parvovirus?
Puppies under four months old and unvaccinated dogs are most at risk. Any breed can contract parvovirus.
How Parvovirus Makes Dogs Sick
Parvovirus, also known as canine parvovirus or parvo, is a very contagious virus that affects dogs. There are two forms of parvo virus including one the involves the heart muscles and one that primarily affects the small intestines.
The most common type of parvovirus in puppies affects the gastrointestinal system and the immune system.
When the virus enters the dog’s body, it settles in the lymph nodes near the throat. The lymph nodes contain lymphocytes (cells that aid in boosting an immune response).
Once the virus invades these lymphocytes, the lymphocytes eventually die off. But it doesn’t stop there. The parvovirus spreads around the body via the bloodstream. It looks for cells that multiply rapidly. These cells are mainly found in the bone marrow and intestinal tract.
The result is a very sick dog in need of medical care.
A more complete explanation of the parvovirus can be found at: 5 Early Warning Signs of Parvo in Dogs
Where Does Parvo Thrive?
Unfortunately, the virus can be found in many places where dogs frequent. Dogs can contract the disease several ways including:
- The feces of an infected dog.
- Parvo can contaminate soil for up to a year, and can remain on inside surfaces for up to a month.
- Dog parks
- Water bowls
- Dog beds
Basically, the parvovirus can exist just about anywhere and requires special cleaning to sterilize the environment.
Parvovirus is highly contagious.
As you’ve read, the parvovirus can be found just about anywhere. This leaves unvaccinated puppies vulnerable to the potentially deadly virus.
Dogs can contract the disease through indirect means. In fact, it can be contracted through inhalation or ingestion of contaminated feces.
The virus takes 5 – 7 days before it shows up in the dog’s feces. The dog can continue to shed the virus last for up to 10 days after the virus has passed.
Signs of Parvovirus in Dogs
A mild fever is usually one of the first signs of parvovirus in dogs. Unfortunately, pet owners can easily miss that first sign.
Parvo symptoms include:
· Severe diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
· Loss of appetite
· Abdominal pain
Not all dogs will have all symptoms. If your puppy is experiencing any of the above symptoms, have a veterinarian see the dog as soon as possible.
Dehydration can happen quickly in young dogs and can be deadly without quick treatment. Dehydrated dogs often require intravenous fluids, especially if he or she is unable to keep food or drink down.
Survival Rate for Dogs with Parvovirus
According to the University of Glasgow, 85-90% of treated dogs survive parvovirus infection.
Treatment, however, can be expensive because of the supportive care (hospital stay) required. Outpatient treatment protocols have been developed by the Colorado State University and has had survival rates of up to 80%.
In untreated dogs, the mortality rate can exceed 90%.
Clean Parvo Out of The Environment
The parvo virus can live in the environment for up to a year. Dog parks, kennels, hiking trails, or even your own backyard could harbor the virus.
To effectively sterilize surfaces, use a solution of ½ cup of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water. Common household cleaners are not effective in killing the virus.
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.
Everything You Need to Know About Parvo Shots for Dogs
Parvo shots (or parvovirus vaccine) is known as a “core vaccine”. Core vaccines are required to protect and prevent the unnecessary spread of disease.
When your puppy is vaccinated against parvovirus, it helps everyone and every other pet around you. Vaccination helps to stop transmission of the virus and can protect unvaccinated dogs from contracting it.
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.
Common Side Effects of the Parvovirus Vaccination
Side-effects from the parvovirus vaccine are usually mild and may include:
· Mild swelling at the injection site
· Low-grade fever
· Low appetite
Rare side-effects could include the development of immune-mediated disease like IMHA (autoimmune hemolytic anemia).
This condition occurs when the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies against red blood cells. It leads to weakness, lethargy, lack of appetite, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms.
IMHA is a life-threatening condition. Please keep in mind that this is very rare in puppies.
Core Vaccines vs Non-Core Vaccines
In order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in high-risk settings, vaccines are used. They are divided into two categories including “core vaccines” and “noncore vaccines”.
It’s important to note that both categories of vaccine are important for your dog. Noncore vaccines may differ depending on geographical location, lifestyle, and exposure risk.
The following list will give you an example of serious diseases that vaccines, including the canine parvovirus vaccine, can help your pet avoid:
· Bordetella bronchiseptica
· Canine distemper
· Canine hepatitis
· Canine parainfluenza
· Coronavirus (not the same virus as Covid-19 in humans)
· Lyme Disease
· Parvovirus infection
· Rabies vaccine
First-Year Vaccinations for Puppies
Vaccinations for puppies can vary depending on your geographic location and your dog’s risk factors. In fact, some dogs may not need certain vaccines.
That said, there is a generally accepted guideline for puppy vaccinations. For example:
Distemper and Parvovirus Vaccine
Puppies generally get this vaccine at 6 – 8 weeks of age.
DHPP (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus)
Puppies may be scheduled to receive this vaccine at 10–12 weeks of age.
The recommendation for this vaccine is to administer between the ages of 16 – 18 weeks, and again at 12 – 16 months.
Adult dogs continue to receive the DHPP vaccine every 3 years and the rabies vaccine (required by law) every 3 years.
Worried About the Safety of Vaccines?
Vaccines can be a bit controversial with some folks. There are fears over side-effects and patients can be suspicious or confused by them.
If you are concerned about the amount of vaccinations your adult dog receives, you can ask for a titer test. Titers are most used after dogs have had their first initial series of vaccines.
Titer tests use a quick blood test that helps determine the quantity of antibodies to a specific disease your dog already has. This could help alleviate your fears that your puppy may be getting too much of a certain vaccine. Some owners choose to titer test their dogs to see if they are protected against parvovirus before vaccinating.
Ultimately, it’s a very complicated topic that needs honest discussion with your veterinarian.
7 Crucial Arguments for Parvo Shots in Dogs
You’ve probably figured out that vaccines play a huge role in the health of our pets. Preventing immediate disease is important, but vaccinations can also play a larger role in the community. Here are 7 reasons for parvo shots in dogs.
1. Prevent Unnecessary Death
Young puppies are only protected by maternal antibodies for the first 4-6 weeks but must 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 shot. Subsequent boosters are needed in order to get optimal protection.
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. Boarding Facilities and Doggy Daycares
Doggy day cares are becoming more common these days. However, that means a lot of different dogs will be in proximity for hours at a time. To reduce the risk of infectious disease, many boarding facilities and doggy daycares require proof of vaccination.
3. Avoid Long-Term Complications
There may be both short-term and long-term harm to the digestive system because the parvovirus targets rapidly regenerating cells in the intestines.
The virus is found in the mucous lining, which protects vital organs needed for food digestion.
As a result, your dog loses a lot of weight and becomes dehydrated because they are unable to absorb nutrients. Parvo, if untreated, can result in intestinal cell death, which, in some cases, can permanently harm the digestive system.
4. Protects Breeds at Higher Risk
Certain breeds such as English Springer Spaniels, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers are thought to develop a much more severe version of the virus if contracted.
All puppies are at risk of contracting parvovirus. Ultimately, any dog with an immature immune system should be considered at high risk.
5. Keeps 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.
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.
6. Parvo Shots Enable Vital Socialization in Puppies
Getting new puppy is an exciting adventure. You’ll want to show-off your new little pup with friends and family. The “Ooooh’s and Ahhhh’s” from other pet owners at the dog park are worth their weight in gold.
However, if your puppy isn’t vaccinated against diseases like parvovirus, those days at the dog park may never happen.
It’s not okay to put your dog, or other dogs, at risk of parvovirus. This disease can be deadly if not treated early.
DID YOU KNOW?
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.
That means your dog could appear perfectly healthy. If you get him or her out in public, that virus will spread everywhere leading to an outbreak in the pet population.
Dogs continue to shed the virus for up to 10 days after recovery.
7. Protect Older Dogs from Parvovirus
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.
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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. Their mothers provide immediate antibodies that protect them, but it doesn’t last long.
If you’re concerned about vaccine safety, talk to the veterinarian. Holistic treatment might be okay in some situations, but never for diseases like parvovirus.
Why risk your dog’s life with untested treatment options? Your veterinarian can help you better understand vaccines including what’s in them and common side-effects
If you have a new puppy, be sure to contact a veterinarian to schedule a first visit to get a vaccination schedule.
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