Canine parvovirus, often referred to as parvo, is a highly contagious virus that often affects unvaccinated dogs and puppies under four months old. Many people wonder whether it’s safe to adopt a puppy that once had parvo.
Once the dog has been treated for the virus, canine parvovirus isn’t a problem. However, it is important to get your dog vaccinated and practice safety precautions when a puppy is diagnosed with the illness.
Read on to learn more about this virus and how it affects a puppy at adoption.
What Is Parvo in Puppies?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canine parvovirus is an extremely resilient virus found in the feces of infected dogs. The virus spreads quickly in kennels. It spreads from the infected feces to a dog’s paws or fur. You can even carry the virus on the bottoms of your shoes. Don’t worry about your health, however; this virus is species-specific, so humans cannot contract canine parvovirus.
The virus then spreads to other surfaces, such as water or food dishes, bedding, and other shared surfaces. Once an area has been infected with the canine parvovirus, the virus can linger for months.
Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at the highest risk of catching canine parvovirus. So, if you are adopting a puppy or dog, it is important to vaccinate them for the disease as soon as possible. Puppies are vaccinated for parvo starting at six weeks old. They’ll also get preventative vaccines for kennel cough and other common illnesses in dogs.
What Are the Symptoms of Parvo?
Puppies who contract canine parvovirus can exhibit the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Low body temperature
- Severe diarrhea
Symptoms can also include fever in dogs, which can quickly lead to dehydration. If untreated, parvo can wreak havoc on a pup’s body, sometimes having fatal outcomes. Most of these deaths occur within 48 to 72 hours after contraction of the virus. If you see a puppy or unvaccinated dog showing any of these symptoms, it's important to get them evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.
How Is Parvo Treated?
There is no cure for canine parvovirus, but the symptoms can be treated to help your puppy fight off the virus. A dehydrated puppy may need intravenous fluids or electrolytes.
Additionally, a veterinarian may need to give the puppy medications to stop vomiting. Vets may also need to get nutrition into the puppy’s system using feeding tubes. In severe cases, a leaky gut or sepsis may need a strong round of antibiotics.
To truly kick the virus, your dog’s immune system must do the rest. Puppies who have survived parvo may have an extensive recovery period. So, before you bring home a parvo-positive puppy, you may need to consider what additional support they’ll need.
What Care Does a Parvo-Positive Puppy Need?
Full recovery from parvo can take time. Each puppy heals differently, so it is important to be patient. After the initial symptoms show up, dogs are typically sick for five to 10 days while they undergo treatment. Then, after they get over the virus, they may need additional support to be healthy.
Nutrition is often one of the most important things to consider with post-parvo-positive puppies. These dogs need a bland, easy-to-digest diet for the first few days. If there was damage to their intestines, there may be additional or life-long diet restrictions that your vet will discuss with you.
Puppies with parvo are contagious for four to five days after exposure. Unfortunately, they can spread the illness before any symptoms show up. This is a crucial reason why puppies need sterile conditions during their first few weeks.
So, before bringing home a parvo-positive puppy, you must find out the dates of their illness. If you have other dogs, hold off bringing home the pup until the contagious period is over. You don’t want a puppy pandemic in your house!
Can a Parvo-Positive Puppy Be Around Other Dogs After It’s Treated?
Parvo-positive puppies can be around other dogs after they have completely recovered. However, there are additional precautions you can take to keep your other dogs safe. First, make sure your current dogs are up to date on their parvo vaccinations.
Vaccinations are the best protection against the virus. It takes at least 10 to 14 days after vaccinations for dogs to have enough immunity built up to combat the virus. Younger dogs need to have the vaccine at six, eight, and 12 weeks of age, plus an additional booster at one year old to be completely vaccinated against parvo. They should receive a booster every one to three years after that.
Additionally, before you let your recovered parvo-positive puppy socialize with your other dogs, quarantine them for a few days. This will help to make sure they don’t have any lingering symptoms.
If the puppy comes with belongings, you can either discard them and start fresh or disinfect these items with a diluted bleach solution. This will kill the virus and prevent it from spreading.
Adopting a Puppy That Had Parvo Is Safe
Canine parvovirus is a deadly virus that spreads quickly. If you are adopting a puppy that you know to be parvo-positive, you can still bring it home. Find out when the puppy started showing symptoms and quarantine the pup away from any other dogs in the house. Be sure to keep all your dogs up to date on their vaccines and disinfect shared dishes and bedding to prevent the spread of the virus.
A parvo-positive puppy is a little guy with a lot of fight in him. He is very lucky to be alive, and you are very lucky to have him, too.