Ask Hopeful Henry: Get your pets vaccinated |

Ask Hopeful Henry: Get your pets vaccinated

Dear Readers: I would like to thank everyone for coming out to the Lake Tahoe Humane Society & SPCA’s Open House last week to meet me and learn more about what we do. We had a great turn out and the mayor Hal Cole even showed up to cut our ribbon at ribbon cutting. Check out our up dated website for information on how to donate, how to enter our “Tahoe Pet” calendar contest, our services, programs and upcoming events.

Thanks for all your support. — Hopeful Henry

Dear Hopeful: What exactly is Parvo, can it be cured and can cats or other animals get it? Thanks. — Martin

Dear Martin: Parvovirus is an acute, highly contagious disease found in dogs. It is a virus attacks rapidly reproducing cells, such as those in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Imagine the worst case of food poisoning you have ever gotten and how you felt. That’s what your dog feels like. There is a similar virus found in cats called panleukopenia, but is sometimes called feline parvo because the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of canine parvovirus. Just like the canine parvovirus, it is highly contagious. If a dog in your household has been diagnosed with parvovirus, the virus cannot transfer to your cat, bird or people. However, in the canine family the parvovirus crosses over different genus’ within the family group, so that a fox can infect a wolf, or a hyena or coyote can infect a dog, or a dog can infect a coyote or hyena.

The virus is found in stools of acutely infected dogs for up to several weeks following infection. The disease is transmitted via oral contact with infected feces. If feces comes in contact with dogs paws, hair, on crates, shoes or any other objects it is when the dog licks it off they can become infected with the disease.

Parvo affects dogs of all ages, but most commonly puppies 6-20 weeks of age. For some unknown reason, Doberman pinschers, rottweilers and Labradors get the infection more readily and experience more severe symptoms than other breeds.

After an incubation period of about four to five days, the acute illness begins with depression, vomiting and diarrhea. While not all dogs suffer with a fever, some will have a high fever. Should your pup show these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

The treatment for parvo is very intense and absolutely requires veterinary management. In all but very mild cases, hospitalization is essential to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Fluids are supplied intravenously with medications to control vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases may require a blood plasma transfusion. The outcome depends on the specific strain of parvovirus, the age and the immune status of the dog, and how quickly treatment is started. I cannot stress the importance of contacting your vet as soon as you notice vomiting and diarrhea in your dog, especially if your dog is being walked in an area where there are a lot of feces on the ground.

If you have a parvovirus outbreak in your home, you must thoroughly clean and disinfect all areas of the house. Parvo is extremely hardy and resists most household cleaners and can survive for months on hard services. The most effective disinfectant is household bleach that is 1 part bleach to 30 parts water. The bleach must remain on contaminated surfaces for 20 minutes to properly disinfect the area.

Your dog does not need to ever get parvovirus. By far the best thing you can do for your dog or any pet is to get them vaccinated. Currently, recommendations are for a booster a year from the initial vaccine series and then revaccinate every three years. It is never too late. If you didn’t get your dog vaccinated as a pup, you can still get them vaccinated as adults. It is also important to isolate young puppies as much as possible from dogs and from potential sources of infection until they complete the parvo vaccination series at 16 weeks of age.

Thank you for bringing up this important subject Martin. — Hopeful Henry

— Submit your questions or letters via email to or by mail to P.O. Box PET, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. Visit the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA on Facebook at You can also become a Facebook friend of Hopeful Henry at

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