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Parvovirus: the puppy killer

Six weeks old.
Six weeks old.
Picture (c) Erika Wisan

     Have you ever taken a puppy into your home and suddenly realized something was not right? Did the puppy have diarrhea, vomit frequently or act lethargic? If so, you may have been in contact with the Parvovirus.

     The virus is more commonly referred to as 'Parvo'. Many American dog owners have encountered the Parvovirus as it is the most common viral illness in canines today. The original Parvovirus was discovered in 1967 and only posed a threat to newborn puppies. By 1978, there was a newer strain to the virus posing much greater consequences. The newer strain spread rapidly and was referred to as "ubiquitous" meaning "present in every environment". Thirty years have passed and the new strain can now be prevented through vaccinations.

     Parvo is dangerous to canines because of its ability to spread quickly. The Parvovirus is contained in fecal matter of dogs and is carried into your home by contaminated hands, clothing, shoes and even your vehicle's tires. If you assume that you have encountered an area that has been infected with Parvo, you must take preventative measures to ensure your puppy will not receive the illness. Bleach is the most effective killer of the Parvovirus. You must disinfect all areas, including the yard. The method sounds extreme, but it's not an exaggeration. Better to have dead grass than to lose a dog to the virus.

     Parvo cannot be transmitted to humans or other animals because it is specific to canines. Early vaccination is essential in prevention. Parvo generally affects young puppies. In rare cases, it has been known to affect older dogs as well. Puppies should have received their first Parvo shot by six weeks of age and then routinely until they are 20 weeks of age, as directed by your vet.

     The Parvovirus is a very serious illness in dogs and should not be taken lightly, an estimated 80% of puppies that have contracted the disease and did not receive vaccinations or vet attention have perished. Rest assured utilizing proper methods and knowing the facts guarantee the health of your puppy and lifelong happiness with your furry friend.


  • Ronnie 5 years ago

    Excellent article and good information. All dog owners should heed Erika's advice and make sure their dogs are vaccinated, and if they get a puppy get it vaccinated as soon as possible. Don't let a preventable disease take your pet away from you.

  • Lyn, Macon Pets Examiner 5 years ago

    Excellent article! This is information that should be repeated over and over so people understand just how bad Parvo is and how easily it can be prevented.