The following is not meant to alarm anyone rather to inform you of the potential danger. In order to prevent our babies from all harm or illness we would need to keep them locked in a 'bubble'. They are like our children. We vaccinate our children for measles yet some still get measles. Parvo is like measles in that it too is a virus. Parvo is much more deadly than measles although there is a 75-80% chance of survival from Parvo if treated properly. The only good thing about the Parvovirus is that once a dog contracts and survives it she can't ever get it again.
Five month old Just Ducky's Justdoit (Nike) contracted the Parvovirus December 5, 1999. She had had her shots. (As I learned later, she didn't get them often enough.) Puppies 2-6 months old seem to be more susceptible to this virus than at any other age. The good news is that Nike will survive. (I spent 6 long days waiting for some positive news.)
Several cases of Parvo have been reported in veterinary offices statewide (South Carolina) so this is not an isolated incident. Where Nike picked this up is unknown. It is found in ponds due to runoff, coyotes and foxes carry Parvo, stray dogs wandering through your yard are also potential carriers. It can be picked up at your veterinarians office, particulary out in the yard area where who knows what dogs have visited. It could be picked up on trial/hunting grounds or at the city park. Parvo is contracted through sniffing the feces of an infected dog. It can be anywhere.
What can you do to prevent Parvo? Besides keeping your dog in an isolation bubble the only prevention for Parvovirus is vaccinations. My veterinarian recommends puppy shots every three weeks until the age of 5 months. Make sure the vaccine is specifically for puppies since it has extra immunities not found in adult vaccines. Adult dogs should get yearly booster shots. Adults seldom contract Parvo since they build up an immunity to the virus over the years if they have been on a yearly vaccination schedule.
What if your dog contracts the virus? If you notice listlessness and vomiting, see your veterinarian immediately. The sooner diagnosed and treated the better the chances of survival are. If it is Parvo, once at home wash everything possible with a mild bleach solution (including your clothes, dog bedding, dog toys, training bumpers, rugs, crates, kennels, shoes, floors, etc.) Realize that the dog can 'shed' the virus (be contagious) up to three days before showing clinical signs and two weeks afterward. Pick up any feces in the yard and dispose of safely. Wash your hands and change your clothes if you handle an infected dog. Wipe your shoes off on a bleach-solution soaked towel or rug. In order to be safe to all other dogs Nike will stay at the veterinarians office until it is positive the virus is gone. Ask your veterinarian for advice regarding giving booster shots to any other dogs on the grounds.
I had three adult Boykins, a three-month old puppy, and a litter of six-week old pups at the house when Nike became ill. All are doing fine. This is a deadly virus but can be contained. Please make sure all of your babies have all of their shots! Before boarding your dog anywhere update all vaccinations. I require a recent shot record from any dog entering my kennel. This is to protect all of the dogs at the facility.
I hope all you have a safe and healthy holiday season.
For more research and information:
NetVet - Veterinary Resources
VetInfo - A Veterinary Information Service
The American Veterinary Medical Association
Pam's Boykin Home Page