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One of the most common infectious disorders in dogs is parvovirus.  When left untreated, parvovirus claims the lives of over 90% of those infected.  The best treatment for parvovirus is prevention through vaccination.  This highly contagious infection is a huge concern for puppies and older dogs since they have weaker immune systems.


Electron micrograph of canine parvovirus (CC0 wikimedia)
Electron micrograph of
canine parvovirus
(CC0 wikimedia)

Parvovirus typically affects the gastrointestinal system in dogs. The virus is spread through oral contact via feces or infected soil and can remain alive in organic material for more than a year.  Some dogs will exhibit symptoms within 3-10 days after exposure, however many adult dogs will show no symptoms.

Signs of parvovirus include a loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea with abdominal pain and blood in the stool.  Dehydration and secondary infections are also possible if untreated.  If you notice lethargy, lack of appetite, or blood in the stool, contact us for an immediate appointment.

The virus affects lymphocytes in lymph nodes and also kills tissue in the intestines which causes bacteria to leak through the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream.  This can cause sepsis and even death.  Side effects following infection for surviving dogs can be severe.  Virus remnants remain for up to three weeks and a previously infected dog will be a carrier of the virus forever.

While cats don’t get parvovirus, there are two similar viruses that they are susceptible to, feline infectious enteritis and feline panleukopenia, both of which are similar in effect to parvovirus.  Again, in both cats and dogs, the best treatment is prevention through vaccination.

To prevent these deadly diseases, we recommend puppies start vaccines at 8 weeks of age and get booster vaccines at 12 weeks and 16 weeks. If you follow our vaccination schedule, your puppy should be protected and live a long, happy life!

As always, if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, Contact our Team at Longview Animal Hospital.