Parvo: Easy To Prevent, Difficult To Treat

parvoNothing makes veterinary staff sadder than seeing pets die from preventable diseases.  At Guthrie Pet Hospital, Parvo is one of the most common preventable diseases that we treat.  Many puppies die a horrible death because they were not properly vaccinated. 

Parvo is a highly contagious virus that kills all rapidly dividing cells in a puppy’s bodies.  The lining of the intestinal tract and all white blood cells are destroyed by this virus causing bloody diarrhea and the inability to fight off bacterial infections.

Unlike most other viruses, Parvovirus is very hearty and can live at room temperature for up to three months.  It is also resistant to heat, alcohol, detergent and many disinfectants.  Parvo is easily spread from hair or feet of infected dogs, shoes, clothes and any other items that come into contact with contaminated feces.

Signs of Parvo:

  • Decreased or no appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever

The first signs are typically decreased appetite and activity level which usually develop five to seven days after exposure to the virus.  This is rapidly followed by vomiting and then bloody diarrhea a few days later.

Treatment:

There is no cure for Parvovirus, so veterinarians must treat the symptoms and support the puppy until the virus has finished its course.  Treatment involves intravenous fluid therapy to treat for dehydration and combinations of medication to stop vomiting and antibiotics.  Dogs can recover from Parvo, but treatment must be started early before the puppy is severely dehydrated and before infection sets in.  Without aggressive fluid therapy and hospitalization, your puppy will most likely not survive this deadly virus.

Prevention:

As stated previously, Parvo is easily prevented with proper vaccinations.  The staff at Guthrie Pet Hospital recommend a series of vaccines at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age.  Parvo can be prevented for less than $100 while treatment can range from $300-800.

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