Know the Facts, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment for Parvo and Distemper
Spring is here and so, too, is parvo and distemper season. Canine Parvovirus, or parvo, is a highly-contagious, often fatal, viral disease in dogs that attacks the intestines. It’s commonly spread via feces of infected dogs and symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, high fever, depression and loss of appetite. These symptoms (vomit, diarrhea, lethargy) can also be signs of the highly-contagious, often fatal, whole body distemper virus which can also be spread via feces and inhalation. The distemper virus also presents itself with respiratory symptoms such as nasal discharge and callusing of nose/foot pads and also has the potential for neurological symptoms such as seizures and twitching.
Puppies are most susceptible to the parvo and distemper viruses; therefore, it is imperative that they receive all of their vaccinations beginning at 6 weeks of age with booster shots given every three-four weeks until the puppy is between 18 – 20 weeks old. Once the initial series of shots is complete, adult dogs will need their immune system boostered annually to protect against parvo/distemper and other diseases; however, it is best to consult with your veterinarian on the best vaccination schedule for your pet.
Both parvo and distemper can have very adverse effects on our community; therefore, people must be very careful when taking their pets to communal areas such as dog parks or other public places with unknown dogs. Puppies who have not been fully vaccinated should not attend communal areas until they have had all of their booster shots. In addition to puppies, unvaccinated dogs are at high risk for contracting both diseases.
For dogs suspected of having parvo or distemper, it is critical that they be checked by a veterinarian immediately and isolated from other dogs within the home. In addition to being quarantined, treatment for parvo includes IV fluids, around the clock monitoring, anti-nausea medications and antibiotics. Pets must often be hospitalized for at least two days or as long as long as a week. If the dog is not treated by a veterinarian, the chances of survival become very grim. Sadly, there is no specific treatment for distemper.
AHS’ two public clinics provide low-cost vaccination every Friday on a first-come, first-serve basis from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Vaccinations are just $19 each and there is no office visit charge. Please take advantage of this low-cost service and help protect the pets in our community.