Parvo is a deadly disease caused by the canine parvovirus type 2 virus that attacks the immune system and gastrointestinal tract of puppies and dogs. Dogs catch parvo from infected dogs or feces. The virus that causes parvo is highly contagious and stable in the environment; it is spread through direct contact with infected dogs, infected feces, and is easily carried on hands, food dishes, bedding, and shoes. Signs of a parvo infection include lethargy or tiredness, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting and diarrhea, often bloody. A dog infected with parvo can be easily confused with those of simple gastrointestinal problems, leading owners to delay treatment. In the meantime, dogs can become devastatingly dehydrated and other animals in the household are put at risk for infection. This is why if your puppy is suffering from these signs it is imperative to have your pup checked by a veterinarian. If your veterinarian suspects your puppy has parvovirus, he or she will most likely run a simple test that will confirm the infection. Your veterinarian may also run a complete blood count to see if the virus has affected the bone marrow. Once an infection is confirmed, the virus must run its course. There is no cure for parvo, only supportive treatment with IV or subcutaneous fluids, anti-vomiting and diarrhea medications, and antibiotics to prevent other infections. If left untreated, parvo almost always means certain death, mortality rates exceed 90%. With the right ongoing treatment, however, 85-90% of dogs can survive. The good news is that parvo can be completely prevented by vaccine. Because this virus is severe and widespread, the parvovirus vaccine is considered a core puppy vaccine by the organized veterinary community. Until your puppy has received a complete series of puppy boosters, he or she should be kept away from dogs with unknown vaccine histories, dogs parks, groomers and pet stores. Talk with your local veterinarian about a vaccine schedule that is appropriate for your area of the country. If your dog has been diagnosed with parvo, he or she should be isolated from all other dogs in the household until they have completely recovered. All bedding, food bowls and flooring should be disinfected with a dilute bleach solution, which eradicates the virus from the environment. In the case of parvo, an ounce of prevention is the only option, as there is no cure for this disease, vaccination against parvo is essential to help your puppy live a long and healthy life. — Sarah J. Wooten, DVM www.wellpetnet.com Paving new roads to wellness…every day Find my work on Life’s Abundance, vetstreet.com, dvm360.com, and follow me on Facebook!