Spring has sprung, and with it a whole new slew of pet hazards need to be on your radar. One common danger for pups is the dreaded canine parvovirus. While “parvo” can strike any time of the year, it is most common in the spring and summer months.

So what is this disease all about?

The Problem

As implied in the name, parvovirus is an infectious virus that can be deadly to dogs. All species have parvoviruses, but they are specific to that species. That means that while your dog may contract canine parvo, it will not be contagious to you, your cats, or other pets in the home. Parvovirus in dogs attacks cells within the intestine as well as the bone marrow. This causes severe vomiting and/or diarrhea as well as the inability of the immune system to fight of the infection.

The Solution

There is no “cure” for a viral infection, so treatment is aimed at helping the pet’s body to stay strong while the disease runs its course. This means slowing fluid losses, maintaining hydration, providing nutrition, and preventing secondary infection from setting in. With aggressive treatment many animals will survive parvo infection, however treatment can be very costly and some pets may die despite the best treatment.

The Prevention

So how do you protect your pup from this devastating illness? A little common sense and appropriate vaccinations offer very effective protection. Parvovirus is often included in your pet’s distemper combination vaccine. All puppies should receive a series of this vaccine, with the last vaccine at or beyond 16 weeks of age. Until this series is complete, puppies may not be completely protected.

Because this virus can live in the environment for a year or more after an infected dog vomits or defecates, puppies who are not fully vaccinated should avoid areas where sick dogs may have been. Dog parks, pet stores, or even areas of the neighborhood where others frequently walk their pets make up the list of places to watch out for.

All adult dogs should receive boosters as recommended by your veterinarian as well to ensure continuing protection throughout their life.

Let’s make parvo a minor inconvenience rather than terminal illness. Contact Elmhurst Animal Care Center at (630) 355 – 5300 for vaccinations or with any questions today.