Is Parvo in Dogs Fatal? Facts Every Pet Owner Should Know

While bringing home a new dog sounds exciting, it comes with many responsibilities, especially if you’re a beginner. It’s more than just buying them toys and collars, a soft bed, food and treats, grooming tools, and more. But you don’t have to be scared if you did all the research, figured out the best place for them to play, or even found the best veterinarian.

Just like us, it’s normal for dogs to get sick sometimes. But you should be aware of a dangerous common virus that affects hundreds of dogs called canine parvovirus. If your dog has blood in his stool, you should immediately take them to a trusted vet.

What Is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus (CPV), most commonly known as “parvo,” is one of the most serious viruses to kill dogs. It was first discovered in 1967 and is resistant to humidity, cold, heat, and drying. It is difficult to die, live in the environment for a long time, and transmit through direct contact with an infected dog. A contaminated object can also affect a healthy dog.

The virus primarily infects the small intestine, impairing absorption, destroying cells, and disrupting the gut barrier. In puppies, parvo affects the lymphopoietic tissues and bone marrow, and sometimes the heart. 

Symptoms of Parvo

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs
  • Persistent vomiting 
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fever or hypothermia (low body temperature)

How Do Dogs Get Parvo?

Puppies from 6 weeks to 6 months and unvaccinated dogs are the most vulnerable to parvo, while younger puppies younger than six weeks still retain some of their mother’s antibodies. This is possible if the dam completed her full series of parvo vaccinations. Parvovirus enters a dog’s body as they clean themselves or eat food off the ground or floor, with infected feces (even in small amounts).

It spreads directly from an infected dog to another dog. Once infected, a dog contaminates food, water bowls, leashes, collars, beddings, and crates. The virus stays and matures inside a dog’s body from 3 to 7 days before the first symptoms show. Humans or pet owners may also get the infection through their hands, shoes, or clothing once they touch an infected dog. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Parvo

Sadly, experts have not discovered any drugs that can kill the virus up to this date. But available treatments can support a dog’s immune system and help their bodies get stronger to fight the disease. In almost all cases, puppies and dogs with parvo need treatment from an animal hospital, like AEC Memphis

The vet will give intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and sometimes certain drugs to help control vomiting and avoid dehydration. They may also give antibiotics to an infected dog with secondary infections due to a weakened immune system.

The following are additional facts that every dog owner or vet assistant need to know:

  • Infected puppies and dogs must be isolated from other animals.
  • Vets and vet nurses should wear special clothes and shoes when treating them, which can be removed and sanitized to prevent the spread of the disease to other patients at the animal hospital or clinic.
  • The average period of hospital stay for a dog recovering from parvo is 5 to 7 days.
  • Many puppies die from the virus due to weak immune systems.
  • Vaccinations against parvo are less expensive than their treatment, which involves staying for several days in intensive care. 

Choosing the Best Vet Clinic

Choosing a reliable veterinarian, such as the Animal Emergency Center in Memphis, is a vital pet owner’s decision for their dog. Together, they will become long-time partners to ensure the patient’s health. Aside from the cost, license, and experience, the location of the clinic or hospital is also a crucial factor to consider. During emergencies, sick dogs are most likely to survive if attended to immediately.

Recommendations from friends, family, or co-workers are one of the best ways to find the right veterinarian. The internet is also an excellent place to look for a vet clinic within any pet owner’s community. If you’re in the Memphis area, you may find an “emergency vet in Memphis” to limit your search within your location.