Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect dogs of all ages but most cases occur in puppies 6 to 20 weeks of age. Some breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers, Rottweiler’s, and Pit bulls, seem to be more susceptible to the infection. The reason for the increased susceptibility in these breeds is unknown. It is very important to vaccinate your new puppy with vaccines provided by your veterinarian.
The virus is shed in the stool and vomit of infected dogs. It can survive in the outside environment for 5 to 7 months and can be shed by a dog for up to 2 weeks after the initial infection.
Symptoms of parvovirus may include dehydration, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea with or without blood in stool. There is typically an incubation period of 3 to 7 days between initial infection and onset of symptoms.
There is no specific treatment for parvovirus. Treatment is intensive supportive care which can include hospitalization, intravenous fluids to rehydrate the patient, and medications to control vomiting and diarrhea. Treatment usually takes 3-5 days before an animal is able to eat and drink again without vomiting. The puppy or dog will need to remain in quarantine during this time to prevent further spreading of the virus.
The parvovirus is very resistant to most household cleaners and can survive on surfaces for months. The most effective disinfectant is a dilution of household bleach and water (a 1:30 dilution). The bleach must be left on the contaminated surface for at least 20 minutes before being rinsed.
Vaccinations for parvovirus should be started as early as 6 weeks of age. It is recommended an approved vaccine be given by a veterinarian and boosted as directed by the veterinarian until at least 15 weeks of age.