Parovirus, an aggressive and deadly virus, is particularly dangerous to young dogs, puppies, or dogs with compromised immune systems. This virus acts fast to attack the immune system and intestines, and if proper treatment is not begun in a timely manner the virus can be fatal. Even with aggressive treatments, many puppies and dogs every year die from parvovirus. In addition, treatments generally require at least a 5 day hospital and the veterinary bill can add up fast. Knowing what causes this disease, and how to prevent it, can help pet owners and their pets avoid a parvovirus catastrophe.
Causes of Parvovirus in Dogs
Parvovirus is spread through the feces of an infected dog or puppy. Much like the salmonella virus, a microscopic drop of infected feces has the potential to spread the virus far and wide. Parvovirus can survive for years in the environment as well, and infected feces have the ability to contaminate soil for many years to come. Once a puppy or dog accidentally ingests the virus, infection occurs.
Preventing Parvovirus in Dogs
Vaccination is by far the best prevention method for parvovirus. Parvovirus vaccine begins at 6-8 weeks of age. The puppy is then given at least two more parvovirus vaccination series at 3-4 week intervals. In some cases a fourth vaccination series is given. Adult dogs that have never been vaccinated before receive two vaccinations with a three week period in between the first and second vaccination. A once a year, or once every three year, vaccination is then given for the remainder of the dog’s life. Improper vaccination will result in incomplete immunity. This is why it is so important to follow the vaccination guidelines scheduled by your veterinarian.
Due to the fact that parvovirus can survive so long in the environment, proper cleaning and disinfecting of all areas where the virus may be is necessary to prevent infecting other dogs and puppies in the area. Chlorine bleach, (1 ounce of bleach to 32 ounces of water), or potassium peroxymonosulfate disinfectant are the two most recommended disinfectants for parvovirus.