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  • Dr Sandy Jameson


Canine parvovirus was first discovered in the 1970s. It is a highly infectious virus with fecal oral transmission- an unvaccinated dog that smells infected feces can contract parvo. It is a fairly robust virus that can exist in the environment for months to years under the right environmental conditions. Fortunately, following an appropriate vaccination schedule is very effective at preventing infection.

A typical parvo vaccine schedule for puppies requires vaccination at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. Although the puppy will develop some immunity after the first or second vaccine they do not have full protection until 2 weeks after their third vaccine. This is why it is very important to

limit a puppy’s exposure to high risk environments (i.e. off leash dog park, or areas with a lot of dog activity) until they have completed all of their puppy vaccines. After the puppy series, it is recommended to vaccinate for parvo at 1.5 years and then every three years throughout life. The parvovirus vaccine is considered a core vaccine by the American Animal Hospital Association.

A few breeds have been found to be more sensitive to parvovirus infections: Rottweiler, Doberman pincher, Labrador Retriever, Staffordshire terrier and Arctic sled breeds.

Typical clinical signs of a parvovirus infections include depression, inappetence, vomiting and profuse, often bloody diarrhea. The incubation period (time from exposure to the first signs of disease) is 7-14 days.

This test confirms the presence of parvo; unfortunately, it's positive. If negative, there'd be only one blue dot on top.

Most infected puppies require 5-7 days of hospitalization for effective

treatment, otherwise death is likely. Intensive care treatment often includes intravenous fluids (with electrolyte monitoring), antibiotics, pain medication (for intestinal pain) and anti-nausea medication under strict isolation conditions. More severe cases may need a transfusion. Prognosis can be variable and depends on the level of care provided. In one study up to 90% of hospitalized patients were treated successfully.

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