You might have heard in the news this week that a new strain of the highly contagious canine parvovirus has been discovered in Australia for the first time.
While Canine Parvovirus strains 2a and 2b have existed in Australia for decades, there have been no confirmed cases of Parvovirus 2c in Australia until last week, even though Parvovirus 2c was first discovered in Italy in 2000 and is relatively widespread in Europe.
So what exactly is Parvovirus?
Why is it so incredibly contagious?
And how can you protect your dog from this new strain of the virus?
What is parvovirus and what are the symptoms?
Parvovirus (also known as parvo) is a highly contagious viral illness that attacks your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system.
Parvovirus can be potentially fatal for all dogs, but it is especially dangerous for young puppies aged between six weeks and six months, dogs that are immunosuppressed, dogs that are exposed to a large number of other dogs and geriatric dogs.
Symptoms to watch for in your puppy or dog may include some or all of the following:
- Sudden onset of foul smelling, bloody diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
- Repeated bouts of vomiting
- General lethargy
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Severe dehydration
If your dog has parvovirus they will usually begin to display symptoms between 7-11 days after coming in contact with the infection.
If you think your pet might have parvovirus it’s important that you contact your vet immediately. A mobile vet can quickly come to your home to assess and treat your pet, ensuring this deadly disease is not spread any further in the environment or bought into a vet clinic, where it could potentially affect hundreds of other pets.
Why is parvovirus so contagious?
Parvovirus is so incredibly contagious because of its stability and because it takes just a few minute particles to spread the disease. Parvovirus is resistant to heat, detergent and alcohol, which is why it remains in the environment for so long.
Parvovirus is spread via dog faeces and can also be transmitted via the hair or feet of infected dogs. It can even live in wet soil for up to a year.
So even if your dog hasn’t been to an infected area, they can still pick up parvovirus just from going somewhere where an infected dog has been or coming into contact with something or someone an infected dog has had contact with.
How can you protect your dog or puppy from parvovirus?
The best way to protect your puppy from parvovirus is via a combination of vaccination and avoiding any places where there are a lot of other dogs.
Your puppy will receive their first parvovirus vaccination as part of their C3 shots at 6-8 weeks of age. Their C3 booster should then be given no younger than 16 weeks of age because the antibodies your puppy received through their mother’s milk can interfere with the vaccination.
It is also very important that your puppy doesn’t go out to any danger spots (basically any place with a lot of dogs) such as dog parks, puppy schools, pet shops or any places where infected dogs might have been until 7-10 days (it can take this long before the vaccine becomes effective) after they have received their 16 week C3 vaccination.
Your puppy will need another C3 booster at the age of one and thereafter an annual booster for the rest of their lives.
And although the C3 vaccination only provides partial immunity to the new strain of parvovirus, it is still the best way to protect your pet.
Protect your pet with a mobile vet
Researchers have no idea how widespread this new strain of parvovirus might be, so if you have a puppy or an immunosuppressed or geriatric dog it’s very important you take extra precautions against infection.
A mobile vet can come to your place if you need a vaccination, protecting your pet against the risk of entering an environment that might be contaminated.
And if you think your puppy or dog might be showing any of the signs of parvovirus, please contact us immediately and we’ll come straight to you.