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5 Signs your Dog might have Parvo?

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As a dog parent, ensuring Your Dog is in paw-fect health is vitally important. One of the most feared diseases (and rightfully so) is parvo or the canine parvovirus – is a highly contagious, resilient virus that can be deadly if ignored. Puppies who are 6 weeks to 6 months in age are the most susceptible to contracting parvo. Our little fur-babies typically receive a series of vaccinations around the 6, 8, and 12-week mark to keep them protected. The good news? With immediate veterinary care and treatment, parvo doesn’t have to be a death sentence. 

What Is Parvo?

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Puppies and unvaccinated dogs have the highest risk of contracting this disease. According to the American Kennel Club, “The virus prefers to infect the small intestine, where it destroys cells, impairs absorption, and disrupts the gut barrier. Parvo in puppies also affects the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, and in some cases can also affect the heart.”

Each time your fur-iend licks, sniffs, or (I hate to say it) consumes infected feces, they can be exposed to the virus. It can also be spread through direct contact with a pooch who’s infected. Indirect transmission can occur if your pup comes in contact with a contaminated object, such as a water bowl, food, leash, collar, or by encountering a person who has handled an infected dog. 

So, what warning signs should you keep your eyes peeled for?

@dogwithsign (not the same kind of warning sign, but an important message)

01

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Diarrhea

When parvo is contracted, it damages the lining of your pup’s intestines. As a result, their intestinal tract is deprived of the ability to absorb crucial nutrients and water. This lack of absorption causes undigested food particles, as well as fluids, to be excreted from the body as diarrhea or loose stool – which only serves to further dehydration. 

Parvo can also cause bloody diarrhea, as it’s known to injure surrounding blood vessels, causing blood to seep into the stool. Whenever your pooch has diarrhea, always furnish them with plenty of electrolytes and fluids to prevent dehydration.

Appetite Loss

One of the first symptoms that manifest in pups with parvo is appetite loss. And let’s face it: our favorite tail-waggers love their food, so you’ll notice immediately when your treat-obsessed canine suddenly loses their enthusiasm around anything edible. During the early stages of parvo, the virus quickly spreads inside the body, harming your pup’s organs – particularly the lining of their intestines. As a natural immune response, their body will trigger its first line of defense – leading to symptoms like appetite loss, fever, and fatigue.

02

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03

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Weakness

Just like us humans, when our pups are sick, their energy level plummets. Why? Because their little fur-bodies are working twice as hard to try and get rid of the infection. It’s imperative for canines that contract the disease to receive a high dose of fluids, electrolytes, and nutrition as they recover – this ensures their immune system is performing at an optimal level during the healing process. 

 

Vomiting

In a majority of parvo cases, pups struggle to keep anything and everything they eat or drink down. Because they refuse to eat, their bellies have nothing in them, causing your pooch to throw up bile. The vomit will be foamy, thick, and likely yellowish-brown. It may even appear almost coffee-colored in appearance as blood gets thrown into the mix. If you notice your pooch is suddenly not eating, err on the side of safety and bring them to your vet immediately. It’s possible that your veterinarian will use IV fluids and a feeding tube to ensure your pup remains hydrated and properly nourished.

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05

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Loss of Weight

When you take into consideration the symptoms a parvo-infected pup exhibits – diarrhea, appetite loss, vomiting – it should come as no surprise that the virus can cause weight loss. On a positive note, as long as your four-legged friend is under the care of a veterinarian and receiving adequate nutrition, they’ll begin gaining back lost pounds. 

Your vet will likely provide you with instructions covering your pup’s at-home treatment plan, so you can nurse your little one back to health. This includes administering medications, such as anti-nausea meds and antibiotics. There’s a strong likelihood that you’ll also receive a list of foods your pooch can and cannot eat, as they’ll need to be re-introduced to solid food over a period of time. 

 

Your vet will likely provide you with instructions covering your pup’s at-home treatment plan, so you can nurse your little one back to health. This includes administering medications, such as anti-nausea meds and antibiotics. There’s a strong likelihood that you’ll also receive a list of foods your pooch can and cannot eat, as they’ll need to be re-introduced to solid food over a period of time. 

Remember – your furry companion can win the battle against parvo. It just requires keeping an eye out for the above warning signs to ensure they are diagnosed right from the onset. Personally, I think it’s always better to be overly cautious about our pup’s health and well-being. Just ask my vet – I have them on speed dial. 

Has your pooch ever been infected with the parvovirus? Please join us in helping other pet parents get a well-rounded picture of what to expect by sharing your story in the comments below.

 

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