Know your vaccines – Parvovirus

As many of you probably know, in addition to being a veterinarian I also run a dog rescue called Harley’s Haven.  We save puppies from high kill and rural shelters, and then help find them homes to give them a fresh start.  With running the rescue, we end up seeing a fair amount of sick babies, and one of the most common (and most preventable) illnesses we deal with, is parvovirus.

Parvo is a HIGHLY contagious virus that is spread mainly through the feces of infected dogs.  It is a virus that attacks the intestines and stomach, so it causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.  If it gets severe enough, it can even cause these babies to go into sepsis, and then can lead to death – it can be deadly even with the best of care, so it’s a very scary virus!  The dogs who are most susceptible are young puppies, because they have immature immune systems, and can’t fight the virus off as well as adult dogs.  PLUS, many adult dogs are vaccinated!

The problem with this virus, is that once a puppy is ill, there is no cure.  All we can do is support them with fluids, antibiotics, nausea medications, and more to try to give them a chance.  It’s up to them and their little bodies to fight it off and pray that we caught it in time.  So that is why it is so scary, and why it can be deadly!

The thing that is most frustrating, is that this virus is extremely easy to protect against with a vaccine that is safe, inexpensive, and widely available.  There are shot clinics, shelters, rescue groups, and veterinarians everywhere who have this vaccine available – sometimes even for free!  So please – vaccinate your dogs – they need this vaccine as a puppy as a series of 3-4 vaccines, and then a year later, and then every 3 years (or longer, talk to your veterinarian!) as adults.  And when you have young puppies, wait to take them out in public until they are fully vaccinated.  This small action could save their life!  As always, talk to your veterinarian for more info, and happy fall everyone!

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