Protecting Your Pet Against Parvo

POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 7:31am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:25pm

'Tis the season for something your pets certainly don't want parvo. It's relatively common and can be deadly. NewsChannel 9 takes a look at what you need to know, particularly if you have or may be getting a puppy.

Honey is a ten-week-old chihuahua who hadn't had any vaccines yet. Then he got sick. He spent four days in critical condition, with symptoms like high fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Honey came down with Parvo.

Though not all dog owners know much about it, it's surprisingly common, particularly for puppies. And vets tell us this is the time of year when they see the most cases. Parvo is a virus, and is said to be quite contagious. There's a vaccine for it but unfortunately, many puppies get parvo before they get their shots, or if exposed to enough of the virus, the shot won't necessarily prevent it and the illness can be devastating.

"Not only will they die from dehydration from the diarrhea and the vomiting, but could pick up a secondary disease because they have no immune system" said veterinarian Dr. Roger Freund. He points out a common misconception among dog owners. "Dogs don't need their vaccines 'till they're four months or don't need their vaccines until they're six months, when actually they need it a lot earlier than that," said Freund.

Vets recommend you start your puppies off with vaccinations at seven weeks. The vaccine helps protect your dog against several illnesses, including parvo and rabies. But there's actually more you can do than the shots.

Dr. Freund said puppies, even with vaccines should stay away from other dogs until they're four to five months old. There's something else to think about. "The virus can live, just laying on the ground for up to a year," said Dr. Freund.

That is why if one of your pets gets parvo, you shouldn't bring another dog home right away. As for Honey, he's one of the lucky ones. He made a speedy recovery and he's on his way home.

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