What is Canine Parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems.

Is my dog at risk?
Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract parvovirus from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.

Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. The canine parvovirus affects most members of the dog family (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.). Breeds at a higher risk are Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers and German shepherds.

What are the signs & symptoms?
The general symptoms of parvovirus are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.

Is there a Canine Parvovirus vaccine available?
You can protect your dog from this by making sure your pet is up-to-date on his vaccinations. Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. Its recommended that puppies be vaccinated with combination vaccines that take into account the risk factors for exposure to various diseases. One common vaccine, called a “5-in-1,” protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.

The first vaccine is given at 8 weeks of age and a booster is given at three to four-week intervals until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age (three boosters 3-4 weeks apart), and then again at one year of age. A puppy’s vaccination program is not complete before four months of age. Older dogs who have not received full puppy vaccination series may be susceptible to parvovirus and should also receive at least two immunizations three to four-weeks apart.

2015 Canine Parvovirus Outbreak:
An outbreak of Canine Parvovirus has recently been reported in Massachusetts. The outbreak originated in Lowell, Massachusetts, with 15 cases, all of which were fatal.