Every pet owner is warned to be careful about socializing their new pup with other dogs too soon. This warning isn’t because of poor socialization or physical aggression. Puppy owners must be cautious of a contagious Parvovirus that can harm and even kill their young dogs.
Puppies receive routine vaccination to protect from Parvo after six weeks. Other dogs, however, can still be infected and spread the deadly Parvovirus. If your dog has been diagnosed with Parvo, it is your responsibility to keep them isolated.
Below we talk about how long your dog needs to be isolated with Parvo. Read on to learn what steps to take to ensure the virus stops with your pet.
If your dog has been diagnosed with Parvo, they have contracted the Parvovirus. The Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University describes Parvovirus as a highly contagious disease that results in gastrointestinal illness. The condition is most severe in puppies.
The virus causes a breakdown of cells in the intestine that leads to bacteria coming through intestinal walls and entering the bloodstream. Not every case of Parvo is fatal, but dogs can experience fatal dehydration or septic shock.
Your dog may have contracted Parvo if they demonstrate the following symptoms:
- Lethargy and disinterest in play
- A depressed demeanor
- Lack of appetite or unusual weight loss
- Vomiting and bloody diarrhea
Symptoms of Parvo can be like other illnesses. Any strange behavior from your dog should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention. Your vet will confirm if your dog’s symptoms are due to canine Parvovirus using a fecal test.
Like most highly contagious viruses, your dog can contract Parvo almost anywhere. The virus can survive outside a dog’s body for months and enter a new host through a sniff, a lick, or ingestion.
Even if a dog has recovered from Parvo, the virus can still be shed on other dogs. All areas where the virus may have spread need to be disinfected.
Bleach is one of a few cleaning formulas that will kill Parvo. Rescue is an option for cleaning your pet directly to help remove potential pathogens. This level of disinfectant is not used in public areas like dog parks. The virus lives everywhere, which is why isolation is essential.
Puppies are most at risk of contracting Parvo between six weeks and four months. Before six weeks, puppies will likely still have antibodies from their mothers that can help keep them protected. Then at 6, 8, and 12 weeks, puppies receive their Parvovirus vaccines. There is also a booster usually administered between 14 and 16 weeks.
Certain breeds are more likely to contract Parvo, including:
- Alaskan Sled Dogs
- German Shepherds
- Bull Terriers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Doberman Pinschers
How is Canine Parvo Treated?
Like many viruses humans contract, there is no cure for canine Parvo, but there are ways to manage symptoms. Supportive care is essential and sometimes vital, depending on how sick your dog is.
Your dog will likely need a hospital stay to receive intravenous fluids. With vomiting and diarrhea, an IV treatment is necessary. The vet will replace fluids because your dog’s digestive system won’t absorb the fluids and nutrients it needs to fend off dehydration. Anti-nausea medication may also be used to suppress the digestive upset.
If the virus has infected your dog’s bone marrow, a blood transfusion may be used to help increase low blood cell counts. Antibiotics also help fight off potential infection from bacteria that may have leaked from the intestines into the bloodstream.
Most dogs will recover if they are treated early enough. After being exposed to a strain of canine Parvo, your dog will have future immunity to that Parvo strain.
Dogs carrying Parvo can be contagious in the first 4 to 5 days from when they are first exposed. This makes timing isolation tricky as your dog may not show any symptoms early on.
Dogs can recover from Parvo after 5-10 days with appropriate medical treatment. They will continue to shed the virus another ten days after recovery. The isolation of an infected pet should be at least three weeks.
Conscientious dog owners should be aware that the virus can still live indoors for up to a month and outdoors for several months. A deep clean is required if you consider welcoming another dog or puppy to your home. Disinfect indoors using a 1:30 water and bleach solution. Wash all fabrics, including any bedding your pet may have contaminated. Wipe any outdoor surfaces, but remember that most of the virus will be inactivated from rain, UV rays, or time.
How to Manage Isolation
While your pet is in isolation, continue their supportive care as long as needed. Your dog will start eating and drinking normally after a week or two. Always provide clean, fresh water along with feedings throughout the day.
While your pet is isolated, start disinfecting areas around the house and yard. Take caution even if you aren’t socializing with other dogs for a while. Your dog’s immune system is likely down, and reinfection or new infection may be a concern.
Your dog will let you know when they’re ready to return to their usual play and exercise. If this is before the three-week isolation, keep the activity to areas where no other dogs may be at risk of picking up Parvo from Fido.
Even the most diligent dog owners will have a hard time avoiding exposure to canine Parvovirus. The best way to protect your pet is to get them vaccinated. If your puppy isn’t fully vaccinated yet, avoid areas where there may be unvaccinated dogs who could be carrying Parvo.
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