Recently we lost Bingo, our 14-week-old puppy. At first he was lethargic and vomited a few times. We thought that he might have a little flu, but his vomiting became worse and he developed severe watery diarrhea. We took him to the veterinarian who said he had parvovirus. He died a few hours later. We want to get another puppy but we don’t want the same thing to happen again. What is parvovirus and how can we protect our next puppy from the same fate as Bingo?
First, we are so sorry that you lost your puppy. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to avoid the same problem with your next puppy.
Parvovirus is a virus that is shed in dog feces. It can be spread through direct contact or through contact with fecal material or areas or items contaminated with infected feces. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells, specifically those that line the intestines. The virus invades these cells and multiplies within them until the cells rupture, releasing new viruses into the intestines.
Often, the first sign of parvovirus infection may be that your normally
active and hungry puppy is lethargic and unwilling to eat. These signs
may go on for a few days before your puppy starts vomiting. Early diagnosis
and supportive treatment for this disease is critical for a better prognosis.
As more and more cells are destroyed, the disease progresses from vomiting to vomiting and diarrhea and eventually to vomiting and bloody diarrhea and sometimes death. Death usually occurs from dehydration, sepsis (bacteria in the bloodstream) or toxemia. The virus can also invade the heart muscle and cause sudden death.
Fortunately, this disease can be prevented through a series of vaccinations. Generally a puppy receives its first vaccine at 5-8 weeks of age and a booster every 3-4 weeks thereafter until it is approximately 16-20 weeks old. You should consult your veterinarian for the protocol recommended for your area and for your puppy. The vaccines are very effective in preventing this disease and should be administered to all puppies as outlined by your veterinarian.
Parvovirus can persist in the environment and may even be present in fecal material for a year. Therefore you should disinfect or remove all materials that may have been contaminated before bringing home a new puppy. Consult your veterinarian for the preferred disinfectants to use on various items.