Last Updated on May 14, 2023 by Becky Roberts
Bringing a new puppy home is a joyful occasion for everyone. But for some, this merry moment doesn’t last long – especially when your puppy contracts parvo. You might have or had a puppy that contracted the virus and wonder: Am I at risk of getting the virus too?
Continue reading because this article is for you.
What is parvo?
Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a lethal disease that affects unvaccinated dogs. It commonly affects puppies aging 6-16 months old. A part of the Parvoviridae family, the canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that targets your dog’s intestinal tract and immune system. When your dog gets the virus, it causes severe inflammation. He loses the ability to digest essential nutrients and retain fluid. This causes the immune system to work harder to fight the disease. For some, they come out as victors. But other dogs may not be as lucky.
Additionally, any breed can get infected with the virus. However, some dog breeds are more inclined to get the virus. Experts aren’t really sure why this is but some of the breeds that are more at risk are German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, English Spaniels, and American Staffordshire Terriers.
Here’s an interesting question: Can dogs get parvo twice?
While your dog does gain immunity when he contracts the virus from puppyhood, for example, there is no guarantee that he won’t get it again. But the likelihood of this from happening, however, is low. This is the reason why routine vaccinations are fundamental to your dog’s health. You can read more of this on Can A Dog Get Parvo More Than Once?
Symptoms of Parvovirus
Recognizing earlier the signs of parvovirus in dogs is crucial for his chance at recovery. 90% of dogs who are hospitalized and treated in time survive to live a long and healthy life. Some of the symptoms of CPV are:
- Severe vomiting
- Weight loss
- Bloody diarrhea
If your dog shows any of the symptoms above, call your veterinary office immediately.
Now, can dogs pass the virus to humans? No, they can’t. But humans do play a role in transmitting the disease. Let me explain to you how.
Can humans get parvo from dogs?
As its name suggests, the canine parvovirus is only transmissible to canines. Our pets cannot pass the virus to us. But humans do suffer from parvo – just a different one. The parvo that affects humans is called the B19 virus. It’s part of the Parvoviridae family that commonly affects children. It causes red patches to appear in the cheeks, arms, and legs. Similar to CPV, we cannot pass this virus to our pets.
Is human parvo as deadly as canine parvo? And how exactly do we contribute to the spreading of parvo in dogs?
The parvovirus B19 is our own strain of parvo. It manifests like a brief cold that causes sore throat, muscle pain, slight fever, headaches, and itchiness. You may notice that people get this virus more frequently during the late winter, spring, and early summer in the U.S. And while it’s more common for children to get the virus, adults can get them too. Pregnant women, more specifically, are advised to contact their doctor immediately if they are exposed to the virus.
For children, the early symptoms include the following:
- Upset stomach
- Runny nose
- The appearance of red rashes on the face
It would take several days before the red rash appears. It normally only comes out towards the end of the illness. For adults, the most evident symptoms are joint pains in the hands, wrists, knees, and ankles.
The parvovirus B19 is usually mild and will go away on its own. However, people who have anemia or have a compromised immune system may be put at risk. Nevertheless, children and adults who are healthy recover without any problems.
Our roles in spreading CPV
While humans cannot get parvo from dogs, they play a major role in spreading the disease. When a person comes in contact with an infected dog, the next dog he pets may get the virus. As I have mentioned, the virus is extremely contagious that it can stay on objects for years without you knowing. The difficult part? CPV doesn’t die from regular disinfectants. A mix of bleach and water only can destroy the virus. It can stay on your clothes, shoes, and pretty much any object you touch. You see my point, right?
Now, how is parvo treated?
Canine Parvo Treatment
Because of the severity of the virus, parvo should only be treated by a licensed veterinarian. When you bring your dog to the veterinary hospital, inform the vet or the veterinary nurse that you suspect he has parvovirus. This is to make sure that they disinfect the environment to prevent spreading. Also, make sure to hold them as much as possible and avoid contact with other dogs or any surfaces.
If your veterinarian confirms that your dog has parvo, he will most probably advise your pet to stay in the hospital. No drug will kill the virus. Instead, your vet will provide supportive care until his body becomes strong enough to fight the virus itself. Your dog will have trouble retaining fluids at this time. Hence, your vet will put him in a drip to prevent dehydration. If he contracts a secondary infection due to his weak immune system, your vet will give him antibiotics. For severe cases, your dog may need a blood transfusion to provide additional antibodies to help fight the infection. Keep in mind that your dog will be kept in isolation for the whole treatment.
All pet owners know the danger of parvo. This is why when you ask pet owners what to do to prevent parvo, a vaccine is always the answer. And no, I don’t mean just the core vaccines. I mean the core vaccines and the boosters that come after as well. This not only prevents parvo but rabies, adenovirus, distemper, and other diseases too.
You might be interested in How Do Dogs Get Rabies?
Parvo is a lethal virus for our dogs but not to us. Interestingly, we have our own strain of the parvovirus called parvovirus B19. It only affects us but not our dogs. We, however, can be carriers of the disease. When we come into contact with an infected dog, we don’t get sick; our dog and other dogs do. This is why hygiene and vaccinating our dogs is important. If you have a puppy that’s currently fighting from parvo to get better, don’t lose hope. Puppies who are hospitalized in time have a high chance of surviving. I’m sure he will too. But until then, disinfect the places that may have been exposed to the virus. Fuzzyrescue is rooting for you and your dog!