The Parvovirus

Parvovirus is an extremely contagious virus that affects dogs and causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Many dogs don't recover from this aggressive virus and can succumb to dehydration. Young puppies and elderly dogs are at highest risk of dying from parvovirus and early detection and treatment are crucial if a dog is to survive. Prevention is better than the cure and a regular vaccination program should prevent your dog from contracting the virus.
Puppies should be vaccinated at the age of six weeks. If the mother has been vaccinated she can transfer some protection to her puppies through her milk but they are still susceptible to the disease and care should be taken not to expose them to the virus. Reputable breeders usually do not sell their puppies until they are 8 weeks old and if you're buying a puppy from a breeder you should enquire to see when the puppy was vaccinated in order to determine when the next booster shot is due.
Puppies require booster shots of the parvovirus vaccine every four weeks until they are 16 to 20 weeks old. Until then, the puppy is vulnerable to the virus and extra care must be taken to prevent any exposure to sick dogs or any discharge from a dog that has parvovirus.
Care should be taken to keep the puppy away from other dogs and places where dogs may have eliminated. The virus can be carried on clothes and shoes so be careful not to allow your dog to sniff your clothes if you've been in contact with a sick dog.
Even with proper precautions your dog may contract the disease due to the highly contagious nature of the virus. Recognizing the symptoms and taking your dog to the vet without delay can give your dog the best possible chance of recovering from the disease.
The first noticeable signs are vomiting and diarrhea. Although vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms common with many dog ailments, parvovirus causes stool to have a specific smell. There will also be blood in the stool and the vomiting will become constant as the dog is unable to hold any food or liquids. The dog will appear lethargic and feverish and there will be a marked loss of appetite.
If your dog displays any of these symptoms it is vital that you consult your vet immediately as parvovirus can lead to death rapidly.
Treatment for this condition consists of supportive care and your dog will usually be hospitalized for a week and given intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Once the dog has been treated it can still transmit the virus to other dogs so you should keep the dog at home for several weeks to avoid affecting others.
Parvovirus is a very serious disease and should not be taken lightly. The only want to protect your dog from this deadly virus is to maintain a diligent vaccination schedule and keep up with booster shots as per your veterinarians' recommendation.