Fighting Parvovirus

by Lee Chambers


Most people with dogs embrace summer as the opportunity to get out and enjoy outdoor fun in the sun.  It’s the season for long walks and hikes, and lazing in the grass.  It’s also, unfortunately, the season when one of the deadliest canine viruses is most easily spread from dog to dog. 

Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a highly-contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness.  It attacks the gastrointestinal system (the “gut”) and wipes out the immune system at the same time.  Dogs that are affected by the virus often show symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea
  • Weakness/Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Without immediate veterinary care – and sometimes even with the best of care – many dogs will die of CPV.  Puppies are especially vulnerable because of their immature immune systems.  If they are not properly vaccinated, the risk is even higher.  The CPV vaccine, which is given to young puppies every 3-4 weeks, and every 1-3 years in adults, is very effective in prevention of the disease.  Dakin offers the Distemper/Parvovirus vaccine for $12 at its weekly Vaccine & Microchip Clinic, held each Saturday at 9am at 171 Union Street in Springfield.*

CPV is extremely contagious and can be transmitted to any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces.  The virus is especially resistant and can live in the environment for months.  It can survive on inanimate objects like pet food bowls, shoes, carpet, clothes and floors.  Unvaccinated dogs are at risk of contracting CPV in the streets, especially in areas where lots of dogs are found.

If you’ve had an infected dog in your house, many typical disinfectants can’t eradicate parvo.  Consider creating your own maximum-strength mix of one-part bleach to 32 parts water, for use where organic material is not present.  Clean and disinfect the infected dog’s toys, and food and water bowls in this solution for 10 minutes.  If the objects aren’t able to be disinfected, discard them.  This solution can also be applied to the soles of shoes that may have walked through an infected area.  Surfaces more difficult to clean (grassy areas, carpet and wood) need to be sprayed with disinfectant or even resurfaced.

We hope you keep your puppies and adult dogs current on CPV vaccines year-round.  There’s no better summer companion than a happy, healthy pet.

*The Vaccine & Microchip Clinic will be held every Saturday except June 1 and July 6.

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