I just saw a case of Parvo virus this morning, an 8 month old dog that had only received it’s first round of vaccines at 8 weeks of age. Parvo virus is a highly contagious, resilient virus that infects the intestinal tract of unvaccinated or naïve dogs. It causes the entire lining of the small intestine to die and slough causing bloody diarrhea, vomiting, extreme dehydration, sepsis (bacteria in the blood) and can cause death, sometimes even when treated.
Treatment can be very costly and can include hospitalization, IV fluid therapy, plasma transfusions, antiemetics, antibiotics, etc. Unfortunately it is often the case that the puppy was not vaccinated due to financial reasons, and therefore there are financial constraints on treatment.
I first encountered Parvo virus infected dogs while working for a veterinarian as an undergraduate student at TAMU. This was in 1983, and the reality of the Parvo epidemic was just hitting College Station Texas. Since then effective vaccines have been developed, and there really shouldn’t be a problem with Parvo viral enteritis any more, but alas there still is. I have experienced an increase in cases in the last few years, and I wonder if it is due to increased financial burdens, lack of education, or if we have a particularly virulent strain. I have not noted any vaccine breaks – meaning none of the cases were adequately vaccinated as young puppies – so I assume that our vaccines are adequate.
I just wish I could impress upon all folks adopting a puppy that the vaccines are crucial. Not only do I see cases of Parvo, but I also see cases of Distemper virus. A simple course of vaccinations at the age of 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks is enough to prevent life threatening diseases. Along with parasite control, these are the most important preventative health measures a new owner can take for their new cute puppy.
If you havn’t completed your puppy’s vaccines, or have any questions at all, please contact us at Kleinbrook Animal Hospital. We would love to help you figure out just what your puppy needs to make sure it survives and thrives into adulthood!