Canine parvovirus reached epidemic levels in the 1970s, killing thousands of dogs before an effective vaccine became available. Although no longer an epidemic, parvovirus is still relatively common in unvaccinated dogs, and veterinary surgeons regularly report outbreaks of the disease.
Is my dog at risk?
All unvaccinated animals, particularly those in high-risk areas and young puppies, are at risk.
How can my dog catch parvovirus?
The main source of infection is the faeces of infected dogs; the virus can also spread on shoes and clothing and on the coat and pads of dogs.
Symptoms of canine parvovirus
Symptoms of parvovirus include depression, severe vomiting, refusal of food and water, abdominal pain and profuse smelly, bloody diarrhoea. This can result in rapid and severe dehydration, and ultimately death.
Prevention and treatment
There is no specific treatment for canine parvovirus, so it is important to ensure that your dog is vaccinated in both puppyhood and adult life. Some of the vaccines on the market reduce symptoms and mortality, but they do not prevent shedding after infection occurs – this means the animal will still excrete the virus into the environment.
Unfortunately, canine parvovirus is very stable in the environment, so any animal which sheds the virus not only contaminates the environment, but poses a risk to other animals as well.