“Parvo” is short for Canine Parvovirus(CPV). CPV is a viral infection that is present globally. The virus affects domestic dogs causing severe gastroenteritis that is often fatal. It is estimated that 20,000 cases of CPV are diagnosed by veterinarians annually in Australia.
Dogs infected with CPV show a range of symptoms from sub clinical (this means you do not even notice any illness), to mild gastrointestinal signs (some vomiting and diarrhoea), to a very fast developing disease where they can die soon after contracting the virus. The severity will depend on the dog’s immune response.
Treatment of infected dogs involves intensive care to replace fluids and electrolytes lost from the damaged bowel. The treatment of dogs and puppies with CPV is often heart breaking as it is such an aggressive virus that the treatment is more often not successful and there is always the frustration of knowing it is a disease that could have been prevented by a simple vaccination.
Dogs which are infected with CPV shed virus in their faeces and the virus then survives well in the environment for years as a potential source of infection to other dogs.
CPV vaccines are among the most effective of veterinary vaccines. If the mother of a litter of puppies has been vaccinated against CPV she will provide antibodies in her milk that will protect her puppies against CPV while they are suckling. At six weeks of age when the puppies are being weaned they should receive their first vaccination against CPV. During the period between the first and second puppy vaccinations, puppies should be kept away from any potential sources of infection as it is not until the second vaccination is given at 8 to 10 weeks that the puppy is safe to explore the whole environment. All puppies should then receive a 3rd puppy vaccination at 10 to 12 weeks.
Improved vaccines and vaccination protocols help provide protection against CPV to puppies at the earliest possible age. Puppies can now complete their three puppy boosters as young as 10 weeks. This means they are able to socialise at 10 weeks of age. Exposing puppies to as many different people, places and other animals in their first 3-4 months of life is really important for their psychological development. Early socialisation and puppy pre-school greatly reduces the incidence of behaviour difficulties, like, aggression, fear and anxiety conditions.
Adult dogs should receive a yearly vaccination against CPV.