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Congratulations on your new puppy!
As your new best friend, you want nothing but the best for them, which includes a long and happy life as the top priority, but a lot goes into that! One of the puppies’ most common fatality causes is called “parvovirus”. This is an incredibly infectious disease that is quick to spread and quick to kill (in some cases, fatality can occur within 24-48 hours). This is the last thing we want for your new pal, but thankfully it is entirely preventable!
What is Parvovirus exactly?
So far, we’ve covered that it is an infectious and often fatal disease, but how exactly does it work? Parvovirus targets the small intestine and prevents necessary functions like absorption. It also kills important white blood cells and can damage their stomach lining. Statistically speaking, this is most common in puppies between 6 weeks and 4 months. Parvovirus spreads in multiple ways. It can spread through contact with infected feces, saliva, or even coughing or sneezing.
Why does it matter?
While this may sound fairly mild, keep in mind that puppies are still growing and that time is crucial for healthy development. If they cannot absorb the nutrients they need, this can lead to trouble with developing bone marrow. Additionally, when parvovirus does cause abrasion in their stomach lining, this can lead to septic toxins being introduced to their bloodstream. Other symptoms to watch out for include dehydration and loss of appetite or energy (which can lead to a fatal shock), fever or hypothermia, bloating, and even bloody diarrhea.
How do we prevent this?
The first, easiest, and most effective step to prevent Parvovirus infection is to avoid taking your new friend to parks or socializing with other dogs and people until they have been vaccinated. The vaccine is the best way to prevent this from happening to your new friend!
If there has been another canine companion in your yard, you will want to wait until after they get their shots to let them frolic in the yard. Parvovirus can last up to 9 years in the soil, and you may not have known if your previous friend was carrying it as long as they were vaccinated.
Any breeders that have discovered a litter with contracted parvovirus should wait at least 2 years before attempting to breed at that location again. Some breeders have even moved their entire practice to a new, disinfected location, not wanting to wait.
Sometimes vets are booked out pretty far so it may be a week or two until you can get your new friend in for their parvovirus vaccine. Thankfully there are lots of steps you can take in the meantime to keep your puppy healthy!
Until you get your new puppy into the vet, limit exposure to other dogs as much as possible.
Don’t let your puppy around any feces, including their own! Make sure you pick up their deposits right away so it does not have a chance to soak into the soil.
If there have been other dogs in your home, disinfect every surface. Also, make sure to disinfect any hand-me-down toys thoroughly. Remember, Parvovirus can stay in the soil for 9 years and other surfaces for up to 5 months!
You can also put your puppy on a round of deworming treatment. This is easily accessible at local pet stores. Worms are incredibly common with puppies, no matter where you get your new friend from, and eliminating any intestinal worms will help to boost their immune system.
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