FAQ about Dog Parvo Symptoms
Parvo, or canine parvovirus (CPV), is the most common infectious disease of dogs in the United States, and it kills about 50 percent of the puppies that contract it. It’s very important to be able to recognize dog parvo symptoms when you see them. Knowing the symptoms in both puppy and adult dogs could save your dog’s life. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about these symptoms.
1. What do dog parvo symptoms look like in adult dogs?
The symptoms of parvo in adult dogs may not seem as serious as in puppies. Many dogs have some immunity to parvo, either inherited from their mother or by coming in contact with the disease earlier in life. If your dog is exposed to parvo he may not show many symptoms. Parvo is mostly seen in dogs that are six months of age or less, and the most severe cases occur in puppies that are less than three months old.
However, adult dogs do get parvo. Canine parvovirus can occur in dogs of any age, breed, sex, or other category. All dogs are at risk for the disease. Even dogs that have been vaccinated for parvo still contract the disease at times.
In the most common form of the disease, called enteritis, dogs may have severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, dark or bloody stool, fever, and a low white blood cell count because of infection. The disease typically progresses rapidly. Death may occur as soon as two days from the onset of the disease. If the dog has any other risk factors, such as a bacterial infection, parasites, or other viruses, the parvo may be even worse and make recovery less likely.
This is the most common form of the disease. However, parvo may also affect the heart in a form called myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart.
2. What do dog parvo symptoms look like in puppies?
Parvo is often fatal to puppies. The disease attacks the body through the stomach, preventing the stomach from absorbing nutrients. A puppy who has an immature immune system and no immunity to the disease is at high risk.
A puppy may stop eating. He may vomit. Parvo primarily attacks the puppy’s digestive system. A puppy will probably have diarrhea with a particularly bad-smelling odor. It may be bloody. The diarrhea will frequently cause the puppy to become dehydrated. Puppies often have a high fever and may become lethargic. Don’t try to treat parvo at home. Take your puppy to a vet right away. Your puppy will need antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and IV fluids for the dehydration.
The typical incubation time for parvo is one to two weeks from the time the puppy or dog is originally exposed to the virus. The virus may be found in the stool of the puppy or dog for several days before the actual clinical symptoms of the disease begin to manifest. The puppy or dog may continue to shed the virus in their stool for a week or two after they start showing symptoms of the disease.
3. Will vaccinating my puppy prevent the disease?
In most cases vaccinating your puppy will prevent the parvo. However, it is important for you to follow your breeder or vet’s recommendations for vaccinating for parvo. If the puppy’s mother has been vaccinated for parvo (and most dogs have been vaccinated at some point), then the puppy will receive immunity to the disease when it drinks its mother’s milk. However, this immunity wears off at different times for different puppies in the litter. That’s why it’s necessary to start vaccinating the puppies in a litter for parvo early and to continue to vaccinate them several times afterwards, to be sure that all of the puppies have received immunization from the vaccinations. If you vaccinate a puppy while he still has immunity from his mother, then the shot won’t “take.” By about nine weeks all of the immunity from the mother is gone, but if you wait this late to start vaccinating the puppies for parvo, it’s possible that they could already be exposed to the disease and become ill. So it’s best to begin vaccinating them when they are younger and vaccinate every two to three weeks. This protocol provides the safest way to immunize the puppies and keep them from getting parvo when they are young and most vulnerable. After getting these puppy vaccinations until they are about 16 weeks old, your dog should be vaccinated again when he’s a year old, and then every three years.
Parvovirus is a common illness and it kills large numbers of puppies each year. It can be transmitted on clothing and objects, making it difficult to wipe out. If you suspect that your puppy or dog may have dog parvo symptoms, don’t waste time. Take him to the vet right way. Prompt treatment may help save his life.