What is parvovirus?
Parvovirus is a serious disease that affects unvaccinated dogs of all ages. It spreads easily and can cause death.
The most common source of parvovirus is dog faeces (poo), which means dogs can pick it up from the soil or other dogs. It can also be spread by contact with other dogs, contaminated footwear, clothing, bedding, food and water bowls and toys.
Parvovirus can survive in the home, soil and backyard for years after first appearing, so it is crucial that your dog’s vaccinations remain up to date so they are always protected.
While the virus can affect dogs of any age, it is more common in puppies and is also more likely to be fatal in puppies. Unfortunately, parvovirus can cause all puppies in a litter to die.
How the virus affects dogs
Parvovirus attacks dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts, damaging the linings of the intestinal tract and bone marrow.
It also results in severe dehydration and destroys white blood cells. This weakens the immune system and can make it easier for dogs to catch other infections.
Note – some dogs may not display all the below symptoms:
- bloody diarrhoea
- unwillingness to eat
- extreme tiredness or weakness
Puppies should be vaccinated at:
• 8 weeks of age
• 12 weeks of age
• 16 weeks of age
• then yearly thereafter.
You should limit your pet’s contact with other animals if your dog or puppy is NOT fully vaccinated. You should also avoid places where your dog could be exposed to parvovirus (e.g. dog parks, pet stores, training classes etc). When socialising your pet before this time, it’s important to ensure the other animals are fully vaccinated.
Adult dogs should be vaccinated once a year to prevent them from contracting the virus.
It is important that you always discuss your dog’s circumstances with your vet.
- If you suspect your dog has parvovirus you should see a vet immediately. If the virus is detected early, it can sometimes be treated with plenty of fluids, antibiotics and nursing care. Sadly, many dogs, particularly puppies, become too weak and cannot be saved. It is important to remember that this virus can kill very quickly so you need to see your vet straight away.
- Parvovirus can be spread through faeces and picked up from the soil, so it is essential you always pick up after your dog when they go to the toilet. If everyone in the community picks up their dog’s poo, there is less chance the virus will spread.
- It is important to disinfect and scrub food bowls, toys, bedding and cages to eliminate the virus in the environment and stop the spread to other dogs. If you live in a multi-pet household, we recommend feeding and handling unwell pets last and to be mindful of cross contamination.
You can clean contaminated surfaces with veterinary grade disinfectants (e.g. F10) or diluted household bleach (1 part bleach to 30 parts water). Both options should be left on hard surfaces for 10-15 minutes.
Disinfected surfaces should then be rinsed or wiped clean so that the residue does not cause any issues for pets. Any potentially contaminated soft materials should be thrown out. Grass and soil are impossible to adequately clean.
We are proud to be a part of ParvoALERT – Australia’s first canine and feline Parvovirus reporting, tracking, and alerting system. Parvo currently infects over 20,000 puppies and kittens every year. Half of all cases end in fatality. Help us eliminate Parvo one pet at a time by signing up and reporting cases. Free for all vets to use! Access it here. #ParvoALERT #parvo #vets #Australia #puppies #kittens #makeparvohistory
We are currently in the process of translating this information for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We will continue to add translations as we progress with this project.