Parvovirus is a preventable, viral infection that kills up to 80-95% of unvaccinated puppies.
Parvovirus is a highly infectious agent that infects young puppies and causes characteristic bloody diarrhoea.
The virus is spread by the faeces of an infected dog. A dog can pick up the virus through ingestion of infected grass, water, food that can be found in public areas such as dog parks. Viral shedding or the spread of the virus from infected faeces occurs approximately 3 days after infection and can continue for 7-12 days after infection. This means that even once the dog has returned home, it could still shed virus and infect others.
It is highly recommended that dogs do not go to public areas for about a week after being discharged from the hospital.
Common signs of parvovirus in a dog:
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Heart problems
Puppies usually start showing signs of disease, day 4-14 after infection.
Diagnosis is based on vaccination history, clinical signs and blood or faecal testing. The best time to pick up the disease is 5-7 days after infection as the faecal concentration is at its highest. Your veterinarian may take a faecal sample directly from the rectum or take a blood sample to test for the virus.
Dogs with parvovirus are often very sick. Urgent care is required in order to give the dog the best chance of survival. It has been estimated that without treatment, over 80-95% of dogs with parvovirus will die.
Veterinary management may include:
- Hospitalisation in a quarantined area
- Intravenous fluids
- Pain medication
- Anti-nausea medication
Tips to help manage a pet with parvovirus:
- Thorough disinfecting of home environment with bleach-based products (dilution of 1 part bleach:30 parts water)
- Isolate infected areas from other animals
- Isolating your pet from other animals for at least a week after hospitalisation
- Avoid taking your pet out for walks for at least a week after hospitalisation
Tips to help prevent parvovirus:
- Vaccination from 6-8 weeks of age with boosters every 3-4 weeks until 14-16 weeks of age or older with a booster 6-12 months later
- Avoid taking your pet to public areas until fully vaccinated
To help prevent your pet from picking up the virus, it is recommended that if you are wanting to walk your pet or take them to public areas such as puppy school, it is important that it has had its first vaccination and that the school requires all puppies to be vaccinated. If your puppy has not had its 14-16 weeks vaccination, and you want to take it for a walk, it is best to take them on the cement pavement where direct sunlight would have killed the virus. A shady park is ideal for picking up the parvovirus and should be avoided until your pet is fully vaccinated!
Dogs commonly contract parvovirus if not fully vaccinated or vaccinated at the wrong time. It's extremely important that the vaccination regime is adhered to.