Canine Parvovirus, or CPV, has been a major threat to the health of canines. Parvo in Puppies is a significant concern for pet parents worldwide. It is a life-threatening and highly contagious disease. Breeds like Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, and American Pit Bull Terrier are at a higher risk of contracting Parvo.
Parvo is a deadly virus that primarily affects puppies. It is highly contagious and can be spread through contact with an infected dog, contaminated food, or water, or even through the air. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and fever. If left untreated, Parvo can lead to dehydration and death.
Although there is a rarer chance that adolescent and adult dogs may get infected with Canine Parvovirus, young puppies are the most at risk of getting CPV.
Here is everything you need to know about parvo in puppies and what you should do to prevent or treat it.
What Is Parvo in Puppies and Dogs?
Just like any other virus, Canine Parvovirus stays inactive when it is outside the body of a host puppy, and it can survive for a long time when inactive. It enters the body of dogs by encountering contact with the contaminated feces of other dogs infected with CPV. As soon as Parvo enters a puppy’s body, it starts multiplying rapidly and can spread throughout the body within 5-7 days.
How Do Puppies Get Parvo?
Puppies get parvo from contact with the virus. The virus is spread through contact with the contaminated feces of an infected dog. Puppies can also get parvo from their mothers if they are infected. The virus is very contagious, and puppies can get it from other dogs or from people who have been in contact with infected dogs.
Puppies that are not vaccinated are at a higher risk of getting parvo. Like any other virus, it can survive on surfaces for months if not disinfected. It is resistant to most disinfectants but can be removed from surfaces using diluted bleach and specialized cleaners. Treatment for parvo is expensive and can be difficult, so it is important to prevent your puppy from getting the virus.
Can Humans Get Parvo?
Like humans, cats also have their species-specific version of the virus. But they can contract canine Parvovirus but usually suffer mild clinical symptoms. The cat’s version of Parvovirus is known as feline panleukopenia.
What Are the Stages of Parvo in Puppies?
There are four stages of parvo in puppies: incubation, prodrome, clinical disease, and convalescence. The incubation period is the time from exposure to the virus until symptoms first appear and is typically two to seven days. The prodrome is the early stage of the disease when a puppy may seem lethargic and have a loss of appetite. Clinical disease is the most severe stage and is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and dehydration. The convalescence stage is the recovery period and typically lasts two to three weeks.
Let’s understand each stage in detail:
A healthy puppy or adult dog can get infected with parvo by meeting the contaminated feces of an infected dog. The virus can stay on surfaces for a long time, so the dog does not have to be directly in contact with the fecal matter. Thus, they can easily contract viruses in unsensitized places like parks or kennels.
Since Parvovirus can cling easily to surfaces, it can be transmitted through objects, clothing, et cetera. So, you can end up transmitting the virus unknowingly.
A healthy puppy can also catch the virus from their infected mother. They can be born with the virus if the mother was never vaccinated for it, or the puppy can contract it through contaminated feces.
After getting infected with the virus, there is an incubation period of about three to seven days. The virus can multiply effectively and efficiently, invading various parts of the dog’s body and even entering the bloodstream. During this period, the dog may not show any symptoms of CPV and is also not contagious.
3. Clinical Disease
After the virus enters the bloodstream, it rapidly infects the inner walls of the small intestine and bone marrow. When it enters the bone marrow, it reduces dogs’ immunity and the number of white blood cells in their bloodstream.
A weak immune system allows the virus to spread to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and an attack on the GI tract can cause considerable damage to the dogs’ chances of survival. When the virus spreads to the GI tract, it prevents the small intestine from absorbing nutrients and prevents the loss of fluids into the stool.
This can lead to severe dehydration, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Fever, Lethargy, et cetera. In most cases, Canine Parvovirus is not fatal, and most cases of deaths are from dehydration or shock.
Full recovery can take quite some time, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Recovery from Parvo differs from case to case, but the most crucial part is to provide your puppy with ample nutrition and keep them hydrated.
During all the stages of the virus, the most important thing is to take them to the vet when you notice early symptoms. It is best to take professionals’ guidance to treat your pups.
What Are the Early Signs of Parvo in Puppies?
There are a few telltale signs of parvo in puppies that you can look out for. If your pup is vomiting, has diarrhea, is lethargic, or has a loss of appetite, these could all be potential signs that they have parvo.
Additionally, if your dog’s gums are pale or white, this is another sign that they may be unwell. If you notice any of these signs in your puppy, it’s important to take them to see a vet as soon as possible so that they can be diagnosed and treated.
The immediate parvo signs in puppies/symptoms of parvo in puppies include:
- Anorexia/Lack of appetite
In 1 or 2 days, symptoms may start progressing into:
- Diarrhea (yellow, mucoid, or hemorrhagic)
- Severe abdominal pain
If a dog starts showing such symptoms, it should be given immediate treatment and taken to a veterinarian clinic.
How Long Does Parvo in Puppies Last?
The answer to how long parvo lasts really depends on the individual puppy and the severity of their case. For some dogs, the virus can run its course in as little as 3-5 days, while others may experience symptoms for 2-3 weeks. In general, the virus tends to last longer in younger puppies, since their immune systems are not as developed as older dogs. However, all dogs will eventually recover from parvo with proper treatment.
What’s the Prognosis for Parvo Cases?
The virus can be life-threatening if you do not keep an eye out for the symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment of the symptoms can increase the chance of survival to about 70-80%.
The virus is the most fatal in the first 24-72 hours of spotting the first symptoms. If urgent medical support is not provided for the symptoms, it drastically reduces the chances of survival. Keep an eye out for the symptoms and respond as soon as you notice any.
How Is Parvo Diagnosed in Puppies?
There are a few different ways that parvo can be diagnosed. One way is through a physical examination. Your veterinarian will look for signs of dehydration, weight loss, and anemia. They will also take into consideration your dog’s history and any potential exposure to the virus. Another way to diagnose parvo is through ELISA tests (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). This test can detect the presence of the virus in your dog’s blood. It is important to note that this test is not always 100% accurate and can sometimes give false positive results. The most definitive way to diagnose parvo is through a fecal test. This test can detect the virus in your dog’s stool.
How to Treat Parvo in Puppies?
There is no proven cure for Canine Parvovirus, and the only treatment is to let the body fight the virus. But you need not worry because there are many ways in which you can provide support to puppies to fight Parvo.
Keeping your dog hydrated with intravenous or IV fluid therapy is the most important support you can provide, as there will be a lot of loss of fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea.
The vet will keep your dog off food and water to rest the GI tract and feed them with an IV to get the necessary nutrition. The vet may also prescribe medicine to stop vomiting and increase appetite when your dog is ready to eat again.
If you suspect your pup may have contracted Parvo, the first step should be to take them to the veterinarian clinic to get them tested.
How to Prevent Puppy from Parvo
There are several ways that you can prevent your puppy from getting parvo. The first way is to make sure that they are up to date on all of their vaccinations. Puppies should receive their first set of vaccinations at around six to eight weeks old, and then they should receive booster shots every three to four weeks until they are around 16 weeks old. If your puppy has not yet been vaccinated, you should talk to your veterinarian about getting them started on a schedule.
Another way to prevent parvo is to keep your puppy away from places where the virus might be present. If you know of any areas where there have been recent cases of parvo, you should avoid taking your puppy there. Additionally, you should try to keep your puppy away from other dogs that may be carrying the virus. If you must take your puppy around other dogs, make sure that they are always on a leash and that you supervise them closely.
Finally, you can help prevent the spread of parvo by cleaning up any areas where the virus may be present. If your puppy has any accidents in the house, make sure to clean the area thoroughly with a disinfectant. You should also regularly disinfect any areas where your puppy eats or sleeps. If you take these precautions, you can help keep your puppy safe from parvo.
Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Parvo?
Getting your puppies vaccinated with the parvovirus vaccine as soon as possible is vital. While the vaccine may not guarantee 100% safety against canine Parvovirus, it’s your best shot against it.
The parvovirus vaccine provides excellent and adequate protection against the virus, making contracting parvo highly unlikely. Just ensure you keep getting the appropriate number of boosters based on their age, which will reduce the chances of contracting the virus to a bare minimum.
Though it is improbable for a vaccinated dog to contract Parvovirus, it is advised to take precautions. Be up to date with your vaccines, socialize with vaccinated dogs and stay away from areas where the possibility of catching the virus.
Can a Dog Get Parvo Twice?
It’s possible for a dog to get parvo twice, but it’s not common. The virus that causes parvo is very hardy and can live in the environment for months, so a dog that has been infected can be re-exposed to the virus and become sick again. However, most dogs that recover from parvo will have immunity to the virus and will not get sick a second time.
What to feed a puppy with parvo?
If your puppy has parvo, it is important to feed them a diet that is easy to digest and packed with nutrients. This means avoiding anything high in fat, as well as anything that is hard to digest, like corn or wheat. The best food for a puppy with parvo is a bland, easily digestible diet that is high in protein and low in fat like chicken stalk, lentil soup, and veggie soup. Puppies with parvo also need to stay hydrated, so make sure to offer them plenty of clean water to drink.
Home remedies for parvo in puppies
There are several home remedies that can be used to help puppies suffering from parvo. One of the most effective is to mix a teaspoon of honey with a cup of lukewarm water and give it to the puppy to drink. This will help to soothe the stomach and ease the vomiting. Another home remedy is to mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a cup of lukewarm water and give it to the puppy to drink.
This will help to neutralize the acid in the stomach and ease the vomiting. If the puppy is suffering from diarrhea, it is important to keep them hydrated. Giving them lesser amounts of water or Pedialyte every few hours will help to prevent dehydration. Finally, if the puppy is showing signs of dehydration, such as sunken eyes or dry mouth, it is important to take them to the vet immediately.
Prevention and Cure
The human saying “prevention is better than cure” also applies to your canine friends. It is better to try your hardest to prevent parvo in puppies. Stay up to date with all their vaccines and boosters, take your dogs to play areas that are regularly disinfected, and let them socialize with only vaccinated dogs.