What You Need to Know about Parvovirus

Last September, we shared the news of a parvovirus outbreak in New Jersey. We just caught wind that several dogs in Virginia Beach have tested positive for the acute virus, which is shed in dog feces for a few weeks after infection.

When we talked about parvovirus last time, we mentioned that it can be a concern all year round, but it’s more often spread in the warmer months. Officials in Virginia Beach are saying that it’s spreading especially early this year.

parvovirus dogRead on to see our previous post, find out about symptoms and learn how you can protect your dog from parvovirus.

A highly contagious disease, parvovirus can be carried around town on dogs’ feet, hair, and of course, their mouths, but it will also latch onto objects like shoes and crates. It is spread through oral contact. Because dogs love to lick anything they get near, we see the high contagion value in parvovirus.

The virus has a tendency to attack areas with a high concentration of immune cells, especially the gastrointestinal tract. It progresses at a rapid rate, so it’s best to seek treatment for your pup immediately if you notice symptoms. Incubation periods usually last about four to five days, at which time symptoms develop.

Symptoms include:

• Depression

• High fever

• Abdominal pain or tucked in abdomen

• Dehydration

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea – often contains mucus or blood

• Rapid weight loss

• Sunken eyes

• Muscle weakness

• Fatigue

Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, as well as puppies 6 to 20 weeks in age, appear to acquire the infection more easily and show more intense symptoms.

What can you do?

Vaccinate your dog. Both vaccination and treatment are expensive, but to avoid the virus, a round of four vaccinations is a must, and to avoid death once infection has occurred, hospitalization is almost always a must

Bleach your items. Parvovirus can resist a lot of household cleaners and disinfectants, as well as last for months without a host, so you’ll need to use diluted bleach and leave on surfaces for at least 20 minutes before rinsing.

Vomiting and diarrhea are extremely common with parvovirus, and it’s tempting to just hydrate your dog as much as possible. Unfortunately, the level of dehydration associated with the virus requires more than just menial care, and administering water or other liquids at home should actually be avoided.

Remember, parvovirus spreads quickly and kills fast. It’s important to get an infected dog treatment immediately. Hospitalization is almost always required. If you suspect a virus or notice symptoms, get your vet on the phone or make the drive ASAP.

Again, the expenses can run high.

As for Virginia Beach, the VBSPCA has scheduled vaccine clinics on April 21, 2015 at the VBSPCA Satellite Center and on May 16, 2015 during the K9 Karnival at Mt. Trashmore. 

There is help if your dog is sick – but prevention is always the best option.