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Parvovirus is a very dangerous and highly contagious condition for which there is no cure, and which often proves fatal in puppies that catch it. Parvovirus can also affect adult dogs too, although generally it is less dangerous in healthy adult dogs, although it should still be taken very seriously.
Fortunately, there is a vaccination available for parvovirus that is given as part of the combined standard canine vaccines, which greatly reduces the risks for adult dogs, and also, provides a degree of protection to the puppies of vaccinated dams when they are very young.
However, until pups are old enough to be vaccinated for the condition themselves, they are still at risk of picking up the condition from other dogs or even just out in the street, which is part of the reason why it is so important that pups don’t go outside until they have been vaccinated.
Parvovirus has a very high mortality rate in affected puppies, and the only form of treatment for the condition is supportive or palliative care, which in some cases, is enough to give the pup a reasonable chance of survival.
Spotting the early stages of parvovirus infection in the making means that you will be able to get your pup to the vet to begin supportive care promptly, and to give them the best chance of survival-and also, will allow you to quarantine other dogs of puppies to avoid them catching the virus themselves.
In this article, we will look at the various different symptoms of parvovirus in both puppies and adult dogs, and how the symptoms can differ according to the dog’s age. Read on to learn more.
The most important thing that all dog owners should know about parvovirus is that it is highly contagious, and once a dog is infected with the condition and even afterwards, it is all too easy for them to pass it on to other dogs and puppies, even after their recovery.
This is why the parvovirus vaccine is so important, and why you should always keep your adult dog up to date with their vaccinations, and why you should get your puppy vaccinated as early as possible.
The virus itself is transmitted through the faeces of infected dogs, which means that anywhere a dog defecates, the ground itself can become infected with the virus, and it takes several weeks for the virus to die off in the ground. Picking up the poop after your dog is important, in order to prevent the spread of the condition and other contagious diseases.
A dog can catch the virus just from sniffing the poop of another dog, or even the ground where another dog pooped even after it was cleaned up.
Additionally, a dog that has been ill with the virus but has recovered, or that has been vaccinated and so, does not get ill themselves, can carry the virus for several weeks, and run the risk of passing it on to others.
Parvovirus can also thrive on counters and surfaces such as food and water bowls, and remain viable for several months. The only way to destroy the virus is with a strong bleach solution, and so if your dog has been ill with the virus, you will have to conscientiously disinfect everything in your home.
Parvovirus can be caught by any type of dog, from young puppies right up to old timers. The condition is most dangerous in puppies, but in older dogs whose immune systems are weaker, it can also be very dangerous too.
Whilst dogs that have been vaccinated against parvovirus can theoretically catch the virus anyway in very rare cases, vaccinated dogs will generally suffer from only a mild variant of the condition that usually clears up on its own.
Parvovirus in young puppies often proves fatal because it leads to extreme dehydration and lack of nutrients, due to the prolific sickness and diarrhoea caused by the condition. Additionally, in puppies the virus often damages the heart and lungs, which can cause breathing difficulties and an inability to nurse for milk, which is why the younger that a pup is, the more at risk they are.
Other symptoms in puppies include crying, vomiting and diarrhoea that is distinctively foul smelling and that cannot be mistaken for anything else, as well as failure to thrive, lethargy, depression, and generally systemic sickness that causes the pup to go downhill very quickly.
In adult dogs, the virus is much less likely to affect the heart and lungs, which is why adult dogs with fully developed organs have a much better chance of survival. All of the other symptoms such as prolific vomiting, incredibly foul-smelling diarrhoea, dehydration and lack of appetite will be present, and the dog will both look and feel very ill.
It is especially important to be vigilant to the symptoms of the condition in elderly dogs, as they are likely to become much sicker than an otherwise healthy dog in the prime of their life.
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