Parvovirus is showing up more often in adults

Mar 13, 2024 | IN THE NEWS, PET BEHAVIOUR, PET CARE INFO, COMMON PET ILLNESSES, Viruses, Vaccination

Parvovirus is showing up more often in adult dogs judging by the number of adult cases being admitted to veterinary clinics in recent months. This a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease usually affects puppies. Though there are no official stats to back this up, clinical staff report higher adult numbers than usual.

Parvovirus is prevented by vaccination.

Puppies are particularly vulnerable to the virus though if he or she gets premium and urgent veterinary care immediately after diagnosis the survival rate can be 70 to 90%. The pup will need intensive care, total isolation and expensive medication. Even then the outcome is not guaranteed. Dogs can still shed the virus for up to 10 days post clinical recovery.

Parvovirus is a two-fold problem

Parvovirus is a viral disease of dogs causing two different sets of clinical problems:   ‘intestinal’  which is manifested by diarrhoea, often bloody vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, fever, and sometimes death; and ‘cardiac’ which occurs in very young pups and is manifested by an acute inflammation of the heart muscle. The dog will often have a peculiar smell when infected with parvo.

Parvovirus is a dog disease

Any age, breed or sex of dog can be affected by parvo though infection does not automatically mean illness. Age, environment, stress, parasites and general health status of each infected dog could affect the severity of illness, which may range from very mild to unapparent to very severe, often resulting in death.The disease is usually more severe in young dogs (less than 6 months of age) or old dogs. Humans can’t get it.

How will I know if my dog has it?

Symptoms include:

  • Bloody diarrhoea (often severe)
  • Fever
  • Lethargy (lack of energy)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malaise (discomfort associated with illness)
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Vomiting

Protecting your dog against parvo

Vaccination is the best protection and puppies must receive their full course of vaccinations to be absolutely sure they are protected. Most vets recommend starting puppy vaccinations at six to eight weeks (depending on the mother’s vaccination status) but chat with your vet first. Novibac DP Plus allows vaccinations from 4 weeks though that only covers parvo and distemper virus and not the other core viruses. Otherwise a puppy’s first vaccination involves what is called a 5-in-1, a vaccination that covers five core diseases, including parvo.  A second round of vaccinations is required at 10-12 weeks, a third at 12-16 weeks and then once a year thereafter.

Absolute musts

• Do not expose your new puppy to any other dogs, or environments where other dogs have been  until he or she has been vaccinated.

• Do not skip a vaccination. Ever.

• If you’re planning on checking your dog into a boarding kennel during the holidays, ensure that it is a reputable establishment that demands vaccination certificates from all boarders.

• If you regularly walk your dog in parks, or take him to puppy training or socialisation classes, please make absolutely sure his parvo vaccination is up-to-date. Parvovirus is highly contagious and spreads very quickly where large numbers of dogs are present.

• Parvo is found in heavy concentration in aninfected dog’s faeces. The virus particles can be easily spread on shoes, clothing and other inanimate objects. Fleas, as well as people, can therefore act as indirect sources of infection.  If your dog has had parvo you will need to disinfect everything he has come into contact with, including bedding, bowls, toys and even your yard. The virus can survive indoors for at least a month and outdoors for up to a year so disinfection is vital. It is best not to introduce a new dog to the premises for at least six months after disinfection.

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