PARVO VIRUS - PUPPY ENEMY #1
Parvo (parvo virus infection) is a highly contagious disease of dogs that is caused by a virus. It is extremely serious in puppies less than 1 year of age, but can affect dogs of all ages, with fatalities running as high as 90% if not treated. This is a relatively new disease that first appeared in 1978, origin unknown.
This terrible disease is present in many areas in epidemic proportions. The virus is passed in the feces of infected or carrier dogs, and can live in the soil for at least 1-2 years, maybe longer. Older dogs that are immune to the disease can pick up and carry the disease for 1-2 months. Although they will not develop signs of illness (due to proper vaccination), they pass the virus wherever they go. Thus, many areas are thoroughly contaminated with this virus. Puppies and younger, unvaccinated dogs are at higher risk of infection.
The first signs of parvo are lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. The virus also suppresses the immune system, leaving ill dogs quite susceptible to pneumonia, bacterial hepatitis, and other serious secondary infections. In fact, the secondary infections are what usually will prove fatal to the dog unless proper treatment is started soon.
Although most cases can be treated successfully, intensive care is necessary, and expensive. Ill dogs must be hospitalized, treated around the clock with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, electrolytes, and nutrition. Occasionally blood transfusions ar needed. Even so, some patients will not survive even with this intensive care.
So what can we do about this disease - VACCINATE!
Unfortunately, all vaccines are not created equal. Only the newer parvo vaccines (called high antigenic mass vaccines) are highly successful in preventing this disease. Many other older-style vaccines are not nearly so effective in preventing the disease, thus many "vaccine failures" occur due to old-fashioned vaccines being used. This is because puppies receive temporary protection from their mother's colostrum, and this passive immunity not only temporarily protects them from parvo, but also interferes with vaccination. The high antigenic mass vaccines are very effective in over-riding this passive immunity and protecting young dogs. The newer vaccines are so effective, that one manufacturer even has a written guarantee! Be sure to discuss brands of vaccine with your Veterinarian!
Vaccination programs should start ideally at 5 weeks of age, and certainly NO LATER than 6 weeks. Vaccines are given every 21 days - any more frequent than this and you risk lowering the pup's immunity rather than raising it! The program must be continued until the pup is from 12 to 16 weeks old. Proper nutrition and modern de-worming medications will also raise the pup's natural resistance to disease. So to safeguard your new puppy or older veteran, get him or her into your veterinarian (remember - pups by 6 weeks!), get a good adoption or annual examination, and get those vaccinations!
Reprinted by permission of Kingman Animal Hosptial