When someone mentions puppies, images of wiggly, bouncy fur balls with sweet puppy breath often come to mind. Unfortunately, all too often SPCA Florida staff members see vastly contrasting images—puppies vomiting or experiencing extreme weight loss and lack of appetite, puppies fighting for their lives because they weren’t properly protected against Canine Parvovirus (CPV).
Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral infection that is spread through feces and can live in the environment for months, potentially infecting new dogs who are not vaccinated against the highly resistant virus. In the intestinal form of parvovirus affects canines’ ability to absorb nutrients, causing them to become weak and dehydrated from a lack of protein and fluids. In its cardiac form, parvovirus attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death. Typically, the dog will respond with pain or discomfort when their abdominal area is touched, and they will have a low body temperature.
Dogs can be treated for parvovirus, but much like other preventable diseases such as heartworms, it is often very expensive and an intense regime that does not always end successfully. Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep your puppy safe.
- Early vaccination has been shown to drastically reduce the number of Canine Parvovirus infections. Puppies should be vaccinated every three to four weeks until 20 weeks old, then yearly. Dogs starting the series when they are older need boosters in three to four weeks, then yearly after that.
- Don’t allow puppies to play or walk in areas that could be exposed to parvo. Remember, parvo can live in an environment for months so soil at dog parks and other public areas may be contaminated. When visiting the vet, pet store, or other public areas, pick up the puppy and keep him or her on your lap to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
A new puppy should bring happiness and joy, so make sure that puppy is protected against potentially fatal diseases like parvovirus by getting the proper vaccinations at the appropriate times and being mindful of where the puppy is playing and who he or she is socializing with. For more information on puppy vaccination packages please visit, www.spcaflorida.org/pricing or call (863) 646-7722.