Spring is Puppy, Kitten, and Parvovirus season. Be Prepared!

 At animal shelters across the nation the arrival of spring translates into an overwhelming number of puppies and kittens being born.   Yes, it’s puppy and kitten season every Spring through Summer at most shelters and rescues.  Unfortunately, it’s also Parvovirus season, as this potentially fatal illness is especially dangerous to puppies.  It can attack dogs of all ages, but puppies are even more vulnerable since their immune system is still developing, making them extremely susceptible to Parvovirus.   

Parvovirus (Parvo) is a highly contagious deadly virus that attacks primarily the intestines.  There’s another form of Parvo that attacks the heart as well.   Parvo can be transmitted by a person, animal or anything that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces.  The virus can actually live for months on things like shoes that have stepped in infected feces, on food and water bowls,  even on the floors.  This is just one reason why it makes my blood boil when I see dog feces littered in the streets and in parks where children play.  Not cleaning up after one’s dog is not only disgusting and offensive, it can actually be dangerous if a dog happens to be infected with Parvovirus and someone steps in it’s feces, tracking the virus with them everywhere they go.  A dog owner that is irresponsible enough not to clean up after their dog is probably irresponsible enough not to vaccinate their dog.  Don’t let your dog sniff the feces of other dogs.  Dogs contract illnesses like Parvo by sniffing, inhaling the virus through their nostrils.

Symptoms of parvo include vomiting, bloody and/or very foul smelling diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite and weight loss.  There is some treatment available to address the symptoms of Parvo, but there is no way to kill the virus itself.  There is no “cure” for Parvo.  Treatment would be very expensive and lengthy, and an awful thing for your puppy to endure.  Parvovirus in dogs should not be confused with the human Parvovirus B19 illness, they are not the same thing.  We don’t get Parvovirus B19 from dogs, and they don’t get Parvovirus from us.  See the web site www.Mayoclinic.org to learn more about the human Parvovirus B19.

 Dogs of all ages should be regularly vaccinated against Parvovirus.  Puppies are usually vaccinated for Parvo and other core diseases and illnesses starting at 6 weeks old.  As your dog matures, she should receive Parvo vaccinations regularly during visits to your vet.  Most of the core combination vaccinations (4 in 1 or  5 in 1 vaccinations) will include Parvo, but ask your vet if you are not certain.  If you’ve adopted a puppy from a friend or a stranger online, get your puppy to the vet as soon as possible to ensure she’s healthy, and that she’s protected with the key vaccinations she needs at this critical stage of life.    Don’t take anyone’s word for it, if you’ve been told your new puppy has been vaccinated, get the documentation that proves it.

To see a video by PetMd that explains more about Parvovirus,  access this link:

If you’re thinking about adopting a puppy or dog this season, check out my post Adopting a New Dog? 8 Questions to Ask Before You Adopt posted on April 7th, 2014. 

Wishing you all a happy Spring, and healthy puppies everywhere!

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