The ease with which Parvo infection can happen cannot be stressed enough. Puppies are especially prone to it because of their immature immune systems. Are you concerned yet? If not, you should be. Learn how Parvo is spread, how long it takes between exposure and illness, and how to recognize the signs of Parvo in your puppy.
HOW IS PARVO SPREAD?
Remember this virus is literally everywhere: every carpet, floor, yard and park. And, it only takes a tiny portion of infected stool, which doesn’t even have to be fresh, but can be months old, to infect a non-immune dog. The puppy can ingest the virus by sniffing or eating infected stool, or by cleaning himself, or by eating food off the ground or floor. It only takes a microscopic amount of stool to infect a puppy.
Parvo can be brought home to your dog on shoes, hands and even car tires. So, your puppy can contract Parvo even if he never leaves your yard. It is speculated that even a bird invading your dog’s food dish can deposit the Parvovirus there. Insects and rodents may also spread the disease.
Are you concerned yet? If not, you should be.
WHAT IS THE INCUBATION PERIOD FOR PARVO?
It depends on who you ask. Most veterinary practitioners believe it takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days after exposure for a dog to show signs of the disease. However, shedding of the virus in feces can begin as soon as the 3rd day after exposure — long before any clinical signs appear and before you have any idea there is anything wrong with your puppy.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PUPPY HAS PARVO?
Besides having your puppy tested, there are symptoms of Parvo that you should watch for in your dog.
Symptoms usually start with fever, lethargy, depression and loss of appetite. Your puppy will probably not drink as much water either. When the virus has moved on to the intestines, your puppy will experience vomiting (often severe, usually yellow, foamy bile), diarrhea/dark or bloody foul-smelling, liquid stool. Diarrhea and vomiting result in dehydration. The dehydration can critically unbalance the dog’s electrolyte balance.
The barrier separating the digestive bacteria from the blood stream breaks down, making it possible for bacteria to enter the body causing widespread infection. The bone marrow has also been attacked by the virus limiting your puppy’s ability to defend itself against infection. In many cases, shock and death follow.