Parvo is a life-threatening gastrointestinal illness that your dog can catch from the contaminated materials of another infected animal - think infected doggy poop, guys! The pups that are at the highest risk for parvo are young, unvaccinated pups who have high stress levels.
The scary thing about parvo? The speed at which it can affect your dog. A doggo infected with the virus can develop dangerous symptoms in 24-48 hours like vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, fever, septic shock, and heart stress.
The good news though? With quick reaction time and vet intervention, your dog can survive this deadly virus! That being said, it's important to know the signs that your dog is giving you that indicate he might be suffering from parvo.
Take a look at our guide below to learn about the body language cues your dog is giving you, the signs you need to look for, and what to do if your dog contracts parvovirus.
Signs Your Dog Might Be Suffering From Parvo
Your dog likely is suffering from parvovirus if they have any of these symptoms or a combination of them. Your dog will definitely develop a fever soon after contracting the virus, sometimes in as little as 24 hours.
Additionally, your pup will be lethargic, fatigued, and weak - a characteristic that is especially noticeable in active puppies. Soon after, vomiting, refusal of food, and diarrhea (oftentimes bloody) will plague your pup. In some cases, your dog will even have a fluid distention of his intestines, have a very weak pulse, and may even become victim to hypothermia.
- Fluid Distention of the Intestines
- Lack of Appetite
Historic Causes of Parvo in Dogs
Typically, dogs who are older have a better chance of surviving the illness, but if caught quickly enough in puppies, they can make it, too. The causes of parvo in dogs are directly related to contaminated materials from another infected animal.
One of the most common causes of parvo is puppies eating the feces of an animal already infected with parvo. Any other contact with parvo-infected material with your dog's eyes, mouth, or nose will also cause him to contract the virus. Lack of proper vaccination, in addition to stress from another illness, can increase the risk of getting parvo, too.
The Science Behind Parvo
Parvo affects the areas of dogs that are highly susceptible to viruses, meaning the areas that have rapidly dividing cells, like his small intestine. The virus is so dangerous because it acts so quickly, and also because it attacks the hematopoietic progenitor cells in your dog's lymphnodes and blood marrow. This is exceptionally dangerous because it makes your dog far more susceptible to sepsis.
This virus can take over your dog's system in as little as 24-48 hours, so it's important to ensure that you're acting fast and taking him to the vet immediately. There are two types of parvo your dog can contract, intestinal and cardiac. The cardiac parvo is very rare and only affects puppies that are still in the uterus, resulting in stillbirth and death.
How to Train Your Dog to Deal With Parvo
Train your dog to deal with vaccinations, one of the best ways to ensure that your pup won't get parvo. Shots aren't fun, especially for puppies, but by rewarding him after, he will associate the shot as a positive experience, making it easier the next time he needs a vaccination. It's possible that if your dog contracts parvo, he'll need a blood transfusion as well, so, more needles - that training should really come in handy.
Following that, he'll likely need electrolyte treatments, another process you should try to prepare him for and reward him for after. Additionally, teach your dog to enjoy solitude for a while. Dogs who have parvo are contagious for up to six weeks after their treatments, so ensure you're giving your dog a ton of extra attention - there won't be any dog park socials for awhile.
How to React if Your Dog Has Parvo
Come up with a diet and exercise regimen with your vet prior to his treatment.
Continue hydrating your dog.
After treatment from the vet, ensure your dog is isolated from other dogs for up to six weeks.
Clean and bleach all surfaces and affected areas your dog has touched.
If your dog has not been vaccinated, ensure he is vaccinated when he's able to be.
Do NOT leave time or wait the virus out.
Contact a vet immediately.