Recent reports from local veterinary emergency clinics are warning of an usual increase in the number of dogs being treated for parvo in recent weeks.
Parvo is a particularly dangerous virus that can affect dogs and puppies of all breeds and ages
It is acquired by contact with infected feces, and is easily transmitted. Initial contact is usually by mouth, although it can then be spread by being carried on a dog’s coat and household objects.
The virus can survive for months, and is highly contagious. Puppies are particularly susceptible to the virus and are much more at risk if infected. Dogs may not show symptoms for up to 2 weeks after coming in contact with the virus.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Some dogs also develop a fever. If your dog is showing any of these signs, a visit to your vet for testing is strongly advised. Dehydration can develop quickly, so if symptoms are suspected do not delay in seeking a professional diagnosis.
Left untreated, more than 90% of infected dogs will not survive
Treatment is limited to managing symptoms to prevent dehydration or infection. The survival rate of puppies and dogs who are diagnosed early and treated promptly is relatively good.
This apparent outbreak is particularly disturbing because some of the dogs diagnosed with the virus had previously been vaccinated. This appears to indicate that the virus may have mutated, or some of the current vaccine is not as effective as it has been previously.
So what is the best course of action until reports of new cases taper off?
Some dog parks have been temporarily closed as a precaution. Avoiding contact with unknown dogs is advised, and limiting exposure to areas where fecal contamination may be high makes good sense as well.
If you frequent a dog daycare, check to see if the facility is aware of the outbreak and has confirmed that all canine attendees are up to date on their shots.
You may want to consider a parvo booster shot if your dog is not up to date. Homeward Pet is offering a free Parvo vaccine clinic for dogs in need on Thursday, Dec. 6 from 10am-4pm at their location in Woodinville.
It is close to impossible to avoid all risk
Being aware of the outbreak is a good first step so you can closely monitor your pet for potential symptoms. If your dog is diagnosed with the virus, follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully. In addition to fluids and antibiotics for your pet, a thorough cleaning of household items with bleach is often recommended.
Parvo is a hardy virus, and can survive up to one year unless destroyed. It is not a threat to be taken lightly, nor is it any reason to panic.