Parvo in the Park?

Signs have been posted at the Los Altos Dog Park, located at Eubank and Wyoming, warning owners that parvo cases have been traced back to the park. Many people have misconceptions about parvo and jump to the conclusion that any episode of diarrhea must mean their dog has the disease. While parvo is a serious, highly contagious viral infection, your dog will not be at risk if he has been properly vaccinated. If you have a young dog that has not finished his shots, however, keep him away from other dogs until he is cleared by your vet.

What Is Parvo?

Canine Parvovirus, known simply as parvo, is a contagious virus that mainly affects young dogs and puppies. There are two types of parvo–intestinal and cardiac. The most common form attacks the intestinal lining causing vomiting and diarrhea. The cardiac form of parvo attacks the heart muscle in very young puppies and usually leads to death.

Which Dogs Are At Risk?

Parvo is seen mostly in puppies between 6 weeks and 6 months old but can also be found in older, unvaccinated dogs.  Certain breeds such as rottweilers, dobermans, pit bulls, labs, German sheperds, English springer spaniels and Alaskan sled dogs are more vulnerable to the disease.

How Does It Spread?

This virus spreads when a dog has contact with an infected dog or through an infected dog’s feces. The virus is so concentrated in feces that if a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool, he will be infected. Parvo can be brought into your dog’s environment on shoes, tires or even by rodents. The virus is hardy and can live in the ground for up to a year. The only disinfectant known to kill parvo is bleach.

What Are The Symptoms of Parvo?

Signs of intestinal parvo include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, lethargy and fever. The virus prevents your dog from absorbing nutrients and fluid and leads to severe dehydration. Many dogs have no symptoms but are carriers of parvo and are shedding the virus in their feces. Dogs with parvo will usually become ill within 7 to 10 days of the initial infection.

Can Parvo Be Treated?

Since parvo is a virus, there is no cure for it. Instead, vets focus on treating the symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections. Dogs with parvo are usually treated in a hospital where than can receive intravenous fluid and nutrition therapy and have their proteins and electrolytes monitored. Survival rate for dogs is 70 percent when treated; it’s much lower for young puppies because they frequently suffer shock followed by sudden death.

How Can I Protect My Dog?

The best parvo prevention is to properly vaccinate your dog. Young puppies should be vaccinated at 6, 9 and 12 weeks and should not be socialized with outside dogs until 2 weeks after their final shots. High risk breeds may require a longer vaccination period.

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