Parvovirus, also known as parvo, is a highly contagious viral infection that affects puppies and unvaccinated dogs. It causes severe bloody sickness and diarrhea, which causes rapid dehydration and dangerous blood loss. Without treatment, the condition is usually fatal, and even with supportive care, puppies can be left with damaged heart muscles or permanent damage to the gut wall. Instead of the heartbreak and expense of treating a puppy for parvo, prevention is the best option.
Make sure your dog is properly vaccinated. Puppies should receive their first vaccines at 6-8 weeks of age; boosters should be administered at three-week intervals until the puppy is 16 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age. Adult dogs need the vaccine every three years.
Limit your puppy or unvaccinated dog's exposure to other dogs until its had the first two vaccinations, unless you are sure the other dogs are fully vaccinated.
Avoid places where your puppy or unvaccinated dog could be exposed to parvovirus from unvaccinated dogs. Dog parks, pet stores, play groups, and other public areas should be avoided until your dog or puppy is fully vaccinated.
Parvovirus is very difficult to kill and can live in the environment for over a year.
If you suspect your house or yard has been infected, clean with a 1:32 dilution of bleach (1/2 cup bleach in a gallon of water). Regular soaps and disinfectants DO NOT kill parvovirus. Areas that cannot be cleaned with bleach may remain contaminated. Remember, the virus can survive on a variety of objects, including food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors.
If your dog or puppy is vomiting, has diarrhea, is not eating or is lethargic, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible. These are all symptoms of parvovirus. Remember, Infected dogs may show only one symptom!