SOURCE: On the Floor @Dove

On the Floor @Dove

On the Floor @Dove

September 25, 2014 11:00 ET

5 Things Puppy Owners Need to Know About Parvo

On the Floor @Dove Answers Questions About Transmission, Prevention and Treatment

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwired - Sep 25, 2014) - To dog lovers, there's nothing as endearing as watching a puppy explore its world. A puppy owner gets a front-row seat to plenty of cuteness. But it's not all butterflies and daisies out there -- there are dangers too, and canine parvovirus is one of them. If you've heard about the recent outbreak of parvo on the East Coast, you're probably wondering if your bouncing bundle of joy is at risk and what you can do to keep your puppy safe.

On the Floor @Dove answers puppy owners' most common questions about the disease.

What is parvo?
Canine parvovirus (parvo) is a serious viral disease that attacks rapidly dividing cells in the body, especially in the intestinal lining and white blood cells. Parvo is very contagious, and spreads through contact with an infected dog's feces. A tiny amount is enough, so the disease can spread quickly, particularly in urban areas where feces are often tracked around the streets. The virus is difficult to kill and can live outside the body for months, meaning that your puppy could come in contact with it at the dog park or even in your own backyard.

Is it preventable?
Fortunately, parvo is very preventable. The parvo vaccine is an American Animal Hospital Association core vaccine and it does work reliably, but puppies that have not yet had all their shots can still get the disease. If you have a puppy, you should make sure he receives his first vaccination at eight weeks of age, followed by booster shots every four weeks until the age of four months (at which point he can be considered protected) and again at one year of age. Try to keep your puppy away from other dogs -- and places frequented by other dogs, like walking trails and beaches -- until the vaccination schedule is complete. Although puppies are most susceptible, any unvaccinated dog is at risk. If you have an unvaccinated older dog, talk to your vet about updating their vaccines.

What are the symptoms?
An infected puppy will lose interest in eating, have very little energy, and suffer from heavy vomiting and diarrhea. Take your puppy to the vet immediately if he has these symptoms, as they can quickly lead to severe dehydration and shock. The vet will perform tests on the dog's feces to confirm a parvo diagnosis.

Is there a cure?
There is no treatment that can directly cure an infected puppy of the virus. Instead, the vet will provide supportive care until the virus runs its course. Fluid therapy is very important, as most infected puppies will be extremely dehydrated and in shock. Other common treatments include anti-nausea medication, a feeding tube, antibiotics to prevent secondary infection, pain medication and possibly even blood plasma transfusions. The veterinary staff will need to watch your puppy closely and keep him isolated from other animals to make sure the disease doesn't spread. If you visit your infected puppy at the hospital, you'll be asked to wear gloves, an isolation gown and shoe covers.

What is the prognosis?
For untreated puppies, the death rate can be as high as 90 percent, but with quick diagnosis, correct treatment and intensive nursing care, most puppies will survive and go on to live normal, healthy lives. Although treatment by your regular veterinarian may be adequate in mild cases, 24-hour clinics are generally more successful in treating these cases, as puppies infected with parvo often need round-the-clock care. If your puppy gets parvo and survives, he will have lifelong immunity.

About DoveLewis
DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Oregon, is the only nonprofit 24-hour veterinary emergency and intensive care unit in the region. DoveLewis provides donor-funded programs to the community, including one of the United States' largest volunteer-based animal blood banks; a nationally recognized pet loss support program; a partnership with Guide Dogs for the Blind to bring animal-assisted therapy and education to the community; 24-hour stabilizing care for lost, stray and wild animals; and financial assistance for qualifying low-income families and abused animals. DoveLewis also offers On the Floor @Dove, a web-based training platform that provides on-demand education to veterinary professionals around the world. Celebrating 40 years of service to the community, DoveLewis has treated more than 500,000 animals and has been deemed one of Oregon's Most Admired Nonprofits by the Portland Business Journal for seven years. For more information, please visit www.dovelewis.org.

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