If you’re just learning about Parvo, you may be wondering how do dogs get Parvo? Parvo isn’t uncommon and can spread easily, so you may need to take precautions if you start hearing it’s in your area.
What is Parvo?
Parvovirus, more commonly referred to as Parvo, is a very infectious virus which commonly attacks young puppies or adult dogs who haven’t been vaccinated against it. Parvo targets cells that are multiplying quickly, making it a fast-acting and potentially deadly virus.
How do Dogs get Parvo?
Parvo is very easily spread, especially if you’re unaware. Parvo is spread through a dog’s fecal matter (poop) and can live outside for months or even years. Fecal matter doesn’t have to be visible for Parvo to spread, as it can spread through surfaces, bedding, your skin, your clothing, and even your dog’s paws.
Parvo is a stubborn virus that’s resistant to most cleaning supplies, but diluted bleach is a common cleaner that works well enough against it. Make sure to wash all surfaces, hands, clothing, and bedding thoroughly, especially if your dog frequents that area often.
Signs Your Dog has Parvo
You won’t notice your dog has Parvo as soon as they’re infected, as they won’t show symptoms for a few days. When they do start showing symptoms, however, you should be on the lookout for your dog eating less and becoming lethargic. As Parvo continues to infect your dog, you will notice they have severe diarrhea and vomiting. Puppies with Parvo may also be suffering from hypothermia and a fast heart rate as they become severely dehydrated and the infection worsens.
Stages of Parvo
Like most viruses, Parvo has a few stages for infection in your dog, starting with the initial infection through the recovery of your dog from this illness.
The infection of Parvo in dogs happens when a puppy or adult comes into contact with infected fecal matter as the Parvovirus enters their mouth. This can happen in a variety of ways without you knowing.
An area you and your dog visit may have been visited by an infected dog who left fecal matter your dog ended up finding or walking through, which they would later lick off their paws during cleaning. A nursing mother may have Parvo and give it to her litter as she cleans them. Another way is that you came in contact with Parvo via another dog or area and ended up with the virus on your hands or clothing, and then visited with your dog, where you transferred the virus to them.
Once the virus has made its way into your dog, it will incubate, multiply, and spread over the next 3-7 days where your dog won’t show symptoms. Parvo seeks out fast-multiplying cells, targeting your dog’s throat, tonsils, or lymph nodes, as they are the closest to their mouth. Once the virus has multiplied sufficiently, it will make its way into your dog’s bloodstream and bone marrow, where it will attack young and newer immune cells, decreasing the protective white blood cell count. From there, it continues spreading down into your dog’s intestines, where it does the most damage to your dog.
At this point in time, your dog will show symptoms of the Parvo infection by vomiting and having diarrhea as the intestines are not properly able to do their job while under viral attack. Due to the vomiting and diarrhea, your dog can become extremely dehydrated very quickly, and if not treated fast enough or properly, your dog may actually die.
Luckily, Parvo is fairly easy to treat but is done so under veterinary care and supervision, usually resulting in your dog staying at the vet’s office for a few days while being treated to make sure they’re doing okay and are properly hydrated.
Recovery for Your Dog
The survival rate of dogs and puppies infected but quickly receiving proper treatment is 75-80%. After Parvo is beaten, your dog may still appear sick for 5-10 days and should be given bland, nutritious food.
How do dogs get Parvo is a fairly easy question to answer but the virus can be difficult to avoid unless your dog is regularly vaccinated against it.