Signs of Parvo: What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

puppy laying down | the pet vet

Parvo, or canine parvovirus, is a highly infectious viral infection that affects dogs. While parvo can be quite serious, it’s often manageable through good veterinary care if caught early enough—and completely avoidable with the right course of puppy vaccinations.

Most cases of parvo occur in puppies between six weeks and six months old. The virus spreads either through direct contact with an infected dog or through contact with an infected dog’s feces—yet another good reason to always pay attention to what your dog is doing when you’re out for a walk.

Parvo comes in two varieties. The most common form is intestinal parvo which can affect your dog’s stomach and digestive tract. This is the form of the infection we’ll focus on for most of this article.

There’s also a rare cardiac strain of the disease that can damage the heart and often leads to death—either in utero or during the first weeks of the puppy’s life. But since the cardiac form of parvo typically passes only from an infected pregnant mother to a fetus, it’s often not a concern for most dog owners.

Let’s take a closer look at the warning signs of parvo you need to look out for, what breeds are more vulnerable to this disease, and the most effective ways of preventing or managing this virus.

Constant Vigilance–Spotting the Signs of Parvo

When a dog is infected with parvo, it usually takes from three days up to a week before symptoms to develop. The primary signs of parvo include:

  • lethargy, or a general lack of energy
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • diarrhea (often bloody)

Further signs to look for include decreased appetite and sudden weight loss. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances may also occur since parvo impairs the ability to absorb nutrients from food. This could also weaken your dog’s immune system and possibly lead to secondary infections, either viral or bacterial.

Parvo also compromises the lining of your dog’s intestines. This allows blood and protein to leak into the intestines, eventually leading to anemia. It also allows for endotoxins to leak out into the bloodstream which could potentially lead to a condition known as endotoxemia. By this point, your dog’s white blood cell count will drop, and they could even develop a distinctive, unpleasant odor.

Since the advanced stages of parvo could lead to shock and even death, it’s a good idea to have your dog checked out by a vet as soon as possible once the first signs of parvo arise.

Which Dogs are Most Vulnerable to Parvo?

Though parvovirus primarily affects dogs, it has been known to make the species jump to other mammals. While humans don’t have anything to worry about, there are documented cases of parvo in wolves, foxes, and skunks. The virus can also be transmitted to cats, but don’t worry, cat owners—it doesn’t lead to disease when this happens.

Also, some dog breeds seem more susceptible to parvo than others. These include:

  • Doberman Pinschers
  • English Springer Spaniels
  • German Shepards
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pit Bulls
  • Rottweilers

Owners of these breeds should be aware of the signs of parvo and the very real benefits of having their puppies properly vaccinated (more on this below).

Diagnosing Parvo

Parvo is a relatively new virus. It was first officially recognized only in 1978. But because of its highly virulent nature, the disease managed to spread worldwide in under two years.

Most often, a simple stool sample is all we need to know your dog is infected with parvo. Save the baggie when you pick up after your dog and bring them both in if you see signs of parvo in your puppy.

Sometimes, parvo can be confused with coronavirus or other forms of small intestine inflammation (enteritis). If this is ever the case, the presence of blood in the stools, a low white blood cell count, and possible necrosis of the intestinal lining help us make the right diagnosis so we can help get your dog the right treatment as quickly as possible.

Treating Parvo

While there’s still no cure for parvo, early detection and proper medical treatment of the virus can greatly improve an infected dog’s chances of survival.

Veterinary care for parvo may require an initial hospitalization. The infection often leads to severe dehydration and could also damage your dog’s intestines and bone marrow. Around-the-clock veterinary care will be crucial. Treatment often involves intravenous fluids to offset dehydration and nutrition therapy to help your dog regain strength and vitality. Medication to help control vomiting might also be included, as well as a course of antibiotics and antivirals to deal with secondary infections. In some extreme cases, a blood plasma transfusion from a donor dog might also be required.

The survival rate of parvo treatments varies depending on how soon parvo is diagnosed, how old the dog is, and how aggressive the treatment is. Left untreated, the virus has a 91% mortality rate. However, with effective veterinary intervention, the survival rate is almost 70%. Sadly though, puppies are more susceptible to the virus because of their less developed immune systems.

Preventing Parvo–Vaccines to the Rescue

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to parvo, that statement was never truer. Because the disease is so virulent and contagious, vaccinations are the best way to protect your dog.

At The Pet Vet, we recommend puppies get three rounds of vaccinations, which will protect your puppy from parvo and other preventable diseases. Shots are recommended at 8-10 weeks, 11-13 weeks, 14-16 weeks, and 22+ weeks. You can find a complete breakdown of our pricing for these services right here.

Although it is important to socialize your puppy with other dogs as early as possible, we recommend you avoid socializing with unfamiliar or unvaccinated dogs until two weeks after your puppy gets their last round of vaccinations—just to be on the safe side.

Your Puppy’s Best Shot at Survival

Parvo is one of the hardiest viruses known to science. While most flu viruses die outside a host body in less than 24 hours, parvo can live in feces and the surrounding soil for up to a year, regardless of the weather. The virus endures extreme temperatures, both high and low, with no problem. In the face of such a relentless foe, you need to give your puppy the best defense possible.

Giving your puppy a complete round of vaccinations—including parvo—is your best chance of beating this terrible, often deadly virus. While there are effective treatments available in case your puppy contracts parvo, there’s still the risk of death involved, no matter how well developed your dog’s immune system is. While knowing the signs of parvo can help lead to an earlier diagnosis of the disease and increase your puppy’s chances of survival, it’s much better to give your puppy the best shot possible for a long and healthy life.

Visit The Pet Vet at your nearest location if you see signs of parvo in your puppy or give us a call today!


How to Fight the Bite: Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs and Cats

flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that most pet owners will have encountered at least once in their pets’ lives. Itching is the most common problem that is noted with these parasites but they can cause hair loss, skin infections, reduce your pet’s activity level and even transmit diseases. Knowledge of these common parasites and proper prevention techniques can ensure that your pet is healthy and happy. This blog covers some best practices for flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats.

how to fight the bite

Flea and Tick Prevention is a Year-Round Battle

Fleas and ticks are everywhere from the lake to parks and even your own home. As a pet owner, you have to constantly be on guard when it comes to protecting your furry friend. There are many ways to prevent flea and tick infestations. The most important step is keeping your pet on monthly preventative. Year-round prevention is imperative to reduce the risk of infestation of both fleas and ticks. It is a common misconception that fleas and ticks are dormant in the winter months. The southern region of the US has a warm climate that is hospitable for these pests throughout the year. There are a lot of preventatives on the market today. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian what medication is the best for your pet. Nexgard and Revolution are offered at all Pet Vet clinics. These are both great options for flea and tick prevention. It is important to note that flea and tick preventatives are specific to dogs or cats. Make sure to read the label carefully before applying any preventative to your pet.

There are also some ways that you can try to control these pests in your yard. Fleas and ticks prefer to live in areas with lots of vegetation. Mowing the lawn regularly and removing any brush, weeds or leaf litter are great ways to keep external parasites from your lawn. Fencing your lawn to keep wildlife, such as deer and rodents, out can also be helpful as they are common carriers of external parasites. There are sprays available to treat outside areas. If you live near wooded areas or large pastures, this might be necessary to keep your parasite population under control. Make sure that all products used are safe for animals.

What to Do If Your Pet Already Has Fleas

If your pet becomes infested with fleas, it is important to bath them and apply flea prevention when dry. Cleaning all areas that your infested pet has inhabited is also important. Fleas actually jump off your pet to lay eggs in the surrounding environment, such as bedding, carpets and even the spaces between wood flooring. This means that all bedding must be washed. Carpets need to be shampooed. Any

surfaces or furniture that cannot be washed should be steam cleaned. There are also room sprays that can help kill fleas. If you elect to use these sprays, make sure the room is well ventilated and that humans or animals do not inhabit the room until the fumes of the spray have dissipated. The flea life cycle is 21 days so these areas may need to be cleaned again in a month to ensure that your pet is safe from re-infestation. This long lifecycle is another important reason to continue monthly preventatives if your pet has recently been diagnosed with fleas as re-infestation is very common if this medication is not given when due.

What to Do If Your Pet Already Has Ticks

Ticks are concerning not only because they bother your pet and consume their blood. They also can transmit diseases that can be life-threatening to your pet. If you find a tick, it is important to remove it as soon as possible. This can be done by grabbing the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible with tweezers and pulling straight out quickly. If you have any hesitation or concern about removing a tick, bring your dog or cat to The Pet Vet and we can remove it safely. After the tick is removed, keep the tick in a securely closed container and bring it to a veterinarian for identification. This can be helpful if your pet happens to get ill after a tick bite as specific ticks carry specific diseases. Knowing the tick means that we know the diseases that could potentially be causing your pet’s illness. A month after any tick exposure, a simple blood test should be performed to ensure your pet has not become positive for some of the most common tick-borne diseases. It is important to wait a full month as doing it any earlier can result in a false negative. This test can be performed at any Pet Vet Clinic and results are completed in 10 minutes.

Just a few simple steps of maintaining your yard and giving monthly preventative can greatly reduce your pet’s chance of becoming infested with uncomfortable and potentially deadly parasites. Fleas and ticks are everywhere but they should never be on your pets. The Pet Vet can help ensure that your furry friend is healthy and free of any these uncomfortable pests.

Senior Pet Care Tips from our Veterinarians:
How to Care for Your Pet During Their Golden Years

Dr. Kaitlin Agel, DVM, MPH

All pet parents want their fur babies to live long and happy, healthy lives.  As veterinary care expands and improvements in preventive medicine are developed, more and more pets are living well into their senior years.  This is excellent news!  Senior pets are amazing!  They have been deeply integrated into their owner’s lives over many years, through all kinds of life experiences.  The bond that an owner shares with a senior pet is truly something special.  As veterinarians, we want to preserve that bond, and keep the owner informed and well-prepared for changes that senior pets might experience.  Most of these animals have been seeing a veterinarian at least once a year throughout their adult lives for wellness care and vaccinations.  Just as in human medicine, normal aging changes require more intensive health screenings and additional testing should be performed.  Yearly bloodwork should be performed throughout the life of a pet, and after the age of 7 a urinalysis and thyroid scan should be included as well.  Auditory and ophthalmologic testing should be performed to address any possible hearing or vision changes.  Blood pressure and electrical activity of the heart (EKG) should be assessed.  Depending on the size, breed, or sex of the pet; performing x-rays of the hips, chest, or other area may be warranted.  These tests should be performed annually, and your veterinarian may recommend more frequent screenings for some pets. Your veterinarian may also recommend other testing based on location, history, or lifestyle.  All of these screenings are designed to catch health issues early so that treatment or management can begin as soon as possible.

One aspect of senior pet care that some owners struggle with is the fear of diagnosis.  As pets age, owners begin to notice changes in mobility or energy and may avoid going to the veterinarian.  Many people do not even consciously realize this avoidance is happening, so it is important that you make an effort to address any changes noted with your veterinarian.  There are a multitude of therapies available to ease the aging process and make life easier for senior pets and their owners.  Additionally, do not fear judgement from your veterinarian.  We are here to help you and your pet enjoy the best quality of life possible for as long as possible, by using our own medical knowledge and resources.  Think of your veterinarian as a tool you can use to make your own well-informed decision on how to best manage your senior pet’s daily life.

One part of senior pet living that most people are unaware of is the number of senior pets available for adoption.  When most people think of adopting a new pet, they consider all the responsibilities and time involved in training and caring for a new puppy.  Long nights with little sleep, vaccination appointments, play time every day, and so many trips outside for potty training! This is a big job and can deter some people from adopting a new pet, even if they want one!  Luckily, there is a viable alternative to a new puppy or kitten, and November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month!  Many of these animals ended up in adoption services due to owner health issues or living arrangement changes that force owners to surrender the pet.  These dogs and cats can have many years left and could be an amazing addition to a household.  Often these pets are already trained and they like to live life at a slower pace.  These are the golden years of leisurely walks, gentle play times, and lots of lounging around.  Consider adopting a senior pet next time you are looking for a new family member, and you might meet your perfect match!

Common Canine Care Mistakes You May Not Even Know You’re Making

Approximately 44% of all households in the United States have a dog, making them one of the most popular household pets. And even though most dog owners understand basic care procedures, there are a surprising number of them that overlook some of the most essential aspects of high quality pet care. But all it takes is a bit of diligence and love for your furry friend to keep up with all of their health needs. Here are just a few common canine care mistakes that you may not even be aware you’re making.

Neglecting Dental Care

Although veterinarians explain the importance of brushing, 65% of pet owners do not brush their pet’s teeth. This is only doing your pet a disservice since it’s not uncommon for dogs that don’t receive adequate dental care to experience ongoing issues like toothaches, swollen gums, sores, and more. In fact, it’s estimated 80% of dogs and 70% cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. Don’t neglect your dog’s dental care; talk to an animal doctor to determine the best oral hygiene regimen that’ll keep your furry friend happy and healthy.

Not Trimming Nails

Some pet owners don’t trim their dog’s nails nearly as often as they should. Even though it may be a bit uncomfortable or nerve-wracking to cut your dog’s nails, it’s necessary to help prevent issues later in life, like arthritis. Plus, overgrown nails are simply uncomfortable for your dog to walk on. If you want your pup to stay happy and healthy, trim their nails on a regular basis, or visit a professional veterinary clinic that provides the service.

Not Getting Vet Checkups

If you only take your dog to see an animal doctor when you need services like dog vaccinations or suspect that something’s wrong, you’re not taking proper care. Vets suggest twice-yearly checkups for older pets, so make sure to visit the vet on time, even if your pup appears to be perfectly healthy.

A recent study shows that dogs are among a small group of animals who show voluntary unselfish kindness towards others without any reward. With all the love your dog shows to you on a daily basis, love them in return by keeping them as happy and healthy as possible. For more information about veterinary clinics, contact The PetVet.

Your Puppy’s First Vet Trip: What to Expect

Most households in the U.S. have at least one pet, and dogs are among the most popular with over 75 million living in loving homes, more than in any other country. However, proper care is essential, especially for puppies. While vets suggest twice-yearly checkups for older pets, your puppy should be taken in for its first visit as soon as you take it home. Here’s what to know about preparing for your puppy’s first visit with an animal doctor.

Visiting Ahead of Time

Before taking your puppy to the animal doctor, take a quick trip to the office and check it out yourself. It’s important to make sure you’ve chosen a place where you and your puppy will feel comfortable.

“You should also try to visit the clinic before your puppy comes home. Look around and see if you are at ease there, that the support staff seems friendly, and the facility is clean. Most vets will take the time to chat with prospective clients. This can be very helpful because it’s important that you are comfortable enough with this individual to ask questions,” writes Mara Bovsun on AKC.

The Day of the Appointment

During your puppy’s first visit to an animal care clinic, the veterinarian should perform a thorough check-up of the dog’s overall health. They’ll weigh your puppy, listen to its heartbeat, examine its skin and fur, take its temperature, and more. Most vet clinics also examine the dog’s mouth, which is essential for proper puppy care, since it’s estimated 80% of dogs and 70% cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. If you have any questions about the puppy care process, now is the time to ask.

Planning For the Future

Finally, you’ll have a chance to discuss your puppy’s future needs with your vet. For example, kittens and puppies can be spayed or neutered when they reach two months old, so you may want to make arrangements for this simple procedure. You can also discuss services like microchipping and puppy vaccines. For this reason, it’s important to have relevant paperwork about your puppy’s medical records to bring to the vet.

Ultimately, it’s up to you as a responsible pet owner to keep your puppy in good health. This way, they’ll remain a beloved member of your family for as long as possible. Contact us today to set up an appointment for your puppy care needs.