Hopeful Henry: What is parvo? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hopeful Henry: What is parvo?

Dear Readers,

I know we have touched on the parvo situation here in South Lake Tahoe, but I wanted to touch on it again as the issue is still very prevalent. It is actually a pandemic in the southwest region in the United States, so will be around for a long time if not forever.

Please read this information, and most importantly make sure your dogs are current with their parvo vaccinations.

What is parvo?

Canine parvo (parvovirus) is an acute, highly contagious disease, which attacks dogs. The virus attacks quickly reproducing cells, such as those lining the gastrointestinal tract. The mortality rate for this virus is 91 percent if gone untreated and affects dogs of all ages. Most cases are puppies 6 to 20 weeks old. Their immune systems are not yet fully developed. Also for some reason parvo tends to hit certain breeds more often. Breeds such as doberman pinscher, rottweiler and pitbull are the biggest target.

How is parvo spread?

The parvovirus is extremely contagious and the virus can remain active for several weeks after infecting a dog. Parvo is spread through oral contact with infected feces. It can be carried on a dog’s fur and feet as well as in contaminated dog crates, shoes or any thing that comes in contact with the infected feces. It can also be spread via wildlife such as coyotes, mountain lions, foxes and raccoons.

An area of concern in the South Lake Tahoe vicinity is the forest surrounding James Street. We have had five cases that can be traced to this area, so do not walk dogs in that area unless they are current with vaccinations.

Always pick up after your dog even in the forest.

What are the symptoms of Parvo?

After an incubation period of about 10 days the illness begins. The signs are depression and lethargy, vomiting, fever and diarrhea (usually bloody). All of these symptoms in turn cause dehydration, which causes more issues.

What is the treatment?

The most important thing is to not wait. Get to your veterinarian ASAP. Survival rate depends on how quickly parvo is diagnosed.

Treatment usually involves extensive hospitalization because of the severe dehydration and damage to the intestines and bone marrow. It is important to let your veterinarian know you suspect parvo so they can take proper precautions to prevent spreading of the virus. If you suspect your dog has parvo let your veterinarian know when you call for an appointment, as there is a special procedure they might follow to avoid contamination of their office.

What is the prevention and decontamination process?

Prevention is the only way to ensure that a puppy or dog remain healthy. Appropriate vaccination should be performed starting at five to six weeks of age, with a booster given every three to four weeks until at least 14 weeks of age (some note 22 weeks of age in susceptible breeds). Pregnant mothers should be vaccinated early to pass on maternal antibody to puppies. The virus is extremely hardy and has been found to survive in feces and other organic material such as soil for more than a year. It survives extremely cold and hot temperatures. The only household disinfectant that kills the virus is bleach. The correct ratio is one part bleach to 10 parts water. A dog recovers from parvo remains contagious for up to three weeks, but can remain contagious for up to six. The virus can remain in the dogs feces during the contagious period risking contamination of the environment. Neighbors and family members with dogs should be notified of infected animals so that they can be sure that their dogs are vaccinated or tested for immunity. The vaccine will take up to two weeks to reach effective levels of immunity. The contagious dog should remain in quarantine until other animals are protected. If you need help cleaning up dog feces from your yard “Snow Dogs” is a company you can call at 530-307-2050. Snow Dogs offers a 10 percent discount if you mention the Lake Tahoe Humane Society.

So, please make sure your dog has been vaccinated so your furry family member doesn’t have to suffer this horrible virus.

Submit questions or letters via email to AskHenry@laketahoehumanesociety.org or by U.S. mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 96158. The Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA have Facebook pages, so stop by and check it out at http://www.Facebook.com/LakeTahoeHumane SocietySPCA. You can also become a Facebook friend of HopefulHenry at http://www.Facebook.com/Hopeful.Henry and twitter @Lthumanesociety.

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