Loss of appetite and thirst are usually the first symptoms, followed by sluggishness, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. The parvo virus attacks the dog’s digestive system. The cause of death in parvo infected dogs is often dehydration. Your dog’s best chance of survival is to start treatment right away. Most deaths from parvo occur within 2-3 days of the onset of symptoms.
In addition to the common symptoms noted above, veterinary clinics have a quick, inexpensive test for the disease. It is highly accurate for detecting the parvo virus in your dog’s feces.
Puppies under 4 months of age or any dogs that are not fully vaccinated against the virus. The stronger your dog’s immune system is, the better his chances for survival. Young puppies are most vulnerable. Dogs that have had a greater exposure to the virus, such as dogs housed together with infected dogs, are also more vulnerable.
Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!!! The combination vaccines (e.g., “5-in-1” or “7-in-1”) contain a component for parvo. Vaccinate your puppy with the parvo combo vaccine at 6 weeks of age, and then again every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. All dogs, including adult dogs, need at least 2 parvo combo vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart.
In addition, keep young puppies at home until they are fully vaccinated for parvo. The parvo virus is everywhere in the environment, but is especially common in public places where other dogs are frequently found such as dog parks, people parks, and sidewalks/lawns where dogs are frequently walked.
The virus is spread by contact with the feces or vomit of a parvo-infected dog. Transmission can be directly from dog to dog, or indirectly through contact with contaminated feces/vomit or contaminated environments (floors, bedding, ground) or contaminated people (hands, clothes, shoes).
NOTE: Parvo-infected dogs may not show symptoms for up to 2 weeks. However, they can start shedding the virus within a couple of days of infection. Therefore, you often won’t know that a dog is infectious until it’s too late. Similarly, even after a dog survives the disease, he can continue to shed the virus for 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms.
Parvo can survive in the environment for many months without disinfection. Once your dog has stopped shedding the virus: