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Parvovirus can attack your puppy as young as 6 weeks of age. Pet owners should have their puppies vaccinated at this age and then again at 10 weeks, and then at 14 weeks. It is important to make sure your furry friends have all three shots, as one and sometimes two are not effective in staving off the disease. Parvo can be passed to a puppy through the placenta of an infected mother. There is no cure once full-blown symptoms occur. However, if you catch it in time, you puppy has a chance at survival.
Parvo symptoms in puppies are often painful and severe, and can start as early as 48 hours after contact with an infectious source. Your puppy will get a high fever that leaves it with a lack of appetite. If your pup is not weaned, you will notice that he is not rushing to eat, like the rest in the litter. He may even lie off to the side of the litter. Unfortunately, if your puppy is born to a mother that was not vaccinated against parvovirus, and is born with parvo, your puppy's outlook is not good. Keep in mind if one pup has parvo, there is a good chance the others may, as well. Parvo can easily wipe out an entire littler of newborn pups.
Your pup will develop lethargy from the pain and lack of food. If you pick your pup up, you will notice it has lost its puppy spunk, and is no longer responsive to petting. A puppy in pain will express itself by rolling its eyes and then closing them or whimpering and whining, when its abdomen is touched. At this point, you should suspect parvo, and immediately separate the pup from the rest of the litter and its un-vaccinated mother. Call your veterinarian, as he may suggest you start treatment with fluids and antibiotics while waiting for parvo test results.
Vomiting and diarrhea are common due to the virus' attack on the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. The puppy stool is often yellow in color, bloody and foul smelling. You will have to move quickly as by now, the virus is already rapidly spreading to your puppy's bone marrow, lymph nodes and heart. If you have not already separated him from the rest of the litter, you should, as parvo can survive in the environment for up to five months clinging to shoes, floors, beds and other surfaces. It can even survive in your yard, so be sure to keep the other puppies away from where the ill puppy lay or played for five months after treatment.
Dehydration occurs, despite your attempts to hydrate the pup. If you have not hospitalized your pup and begun life-saving treatments, the virus' attack on its little system will cause the puppy to go into shock and in most cases, die. Many puppies with full-blown cases of the parvovirus do not survive without immediate medical intervention.
- puppies image by Bobi from Fotolia.com