The last thing you want to hear, as a pet parent, is that your dog or puppy has parvo. Yet, more dog owners are searching for ‘How do dogs get parvo?’ to understand how their dogs got sick in the first place. We have outlined the ways dogs of all ages can contract parvovirus and included measures for preventing your dog from catching the virus.
Table of Contents
- What is canine parvovirus?
- How do dogs get parvo?
- How do puppies get parvo?
- How does Parvo affect dogs?
- Symptoms of parvo in dogs
- Home treatment for parvo in dogs
What is canine parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus is a contagious disease that triggers severe gastrointestinal complications in dogs. Puppies between 6 and 20 weeks old are more susceptible to contracting parvo, though older dogs are at risk of the virus as well.
Parvovirus rarely affects the unborn puppy of a sick dam. When it does, it results in a heart condition known as myocarditis. Myocarditis causes inflammation of the heart muscle and can cause the death of unborn puppies if not detected and treated early.
How do dogs get parvo?
The first case of the parvovirus was detected in Europe in 1976. Two years later, the virus became a global pandemic causing heart and intestinal inflammation in puppies and old dogs. Parvovirus is not limited to dogs alone, wild animals like skunks, raccoons, and foxes can contract the virus as well.
Dogs usually get parvo from direct contact with the virus or with an infected dog. In addition, a puppy or an older dog can contract parvo from an infected surface or object.
If a dog shares a kennel, beddings, eating bowl, drinking bowl, with an infected dog, the healthy dog will get infected. In addition, puppies and older dogs can get parvo by coming into direct contact with the feces of a sick dog.
Dogs can contract parvovirus from literally anywhere. It could be in a pile of snow where a sick dog previously vomited. It could also be a toy that an infected dog played with. Dogs can also get the virus from human contact if the human handled a dog with parvovirus.
Parvovirus is highly contagious and utmost care is needed to prevent it from spreading.
How do puppies get parvo?
Puppies are more vulnerable to parvovirus because of their still-developing immune system. The parvovirus is likely to infect puppies that are 6 weeks to 6 months old. Puppies that are less than six weeks old still have the antibodies they get from the mother’s milk.
How does Parvo affect dogs?
Parvovirus is one of the dog-killing viruses out there. When a dog gets infected, the virus infects rapidly dividing cells in the body. It allows the virus to multiply faster and spread through the body.
Parvo mostly affects the bone marrow and the small intestine. In young dogs, the virus will infect the heart and weaken its muscles. It causes arrhythmia, the irregular beating of the heart.
The bone marrow gets hit the hardest by the parvovirus. The virus destroys white blood cells and hinders their production in the bone marrow. A significant drop in white blood cell counts weakens the dog’s immune system. With the immune system destroyed, the virus gets leeway to spread to other body organs, specifically targeting the small intestine.
Parvovirus destroys the epithelium cells in the small intestine. They are protective cells lining the small intestine. Also, the epithelium cells help the body absorb nutrients into the bloodstream.
When the virus destroys the epithelium cells, the protective lining in the small intestine gets destroyed. With the small intestine lining destroyed, the dog cannot absorb nutrients or prevent fluid loss in the small intestine. In addition, the small intestine cannot keep gut bacteria from leaching into the bloodstream.
Once bacteria gets into the bloodstream, it spreads into the body, causing infection. The parvovirus also attacks the crypts of Lieberkhun, the organ that produces epithelium cells. By preventing new epithelium cells from generating, the body cannot repair the damaged small intestine lining causing it to break down entirely. At this stage, the virus has become fatal to the dog.
Symptoms of parvo in dogs
Dehydration and lethargy are some of the first signs of parvo in puppies and older dogs. Other symptoms of parvo in dogs to watch out for include;
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Canine depression
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid weight loss
Home treatment for parvo in dogs
So far, we have answered the question ‘how do dogs get parvo?’ and seen the various ways your pup can contract the virus. Now we look at how you can manage parvo at home without breaking the bank.
We always recommend taking your pup to the vet when you notice those first symptoms of parvo. This checkup rules out any other disease that may show similar symptoms of parvo.
Also, we are big fans of vaccinating your puppy against parvo. Remember, puppies get their immunity from the mother’s milk up to 6 weeks old. It is important that you get your puppy vaccinated against parvo within the first 6 weeks of being born. This helps keep the puppy’s immunity up and gives it a better fighting chance against parvo.
That said, here is how you can manage parvo at home without spending too much on medication;
- Quarantine sick dogs- parvovirus is highly contagious as the virus spreads from surface to surface. Isolate a sick dog to prevent it from infecting other pets. In addition, ensure that a sick dog does not share its food, water, or beddings with a healthy dog.
- Hydrate the sick dog– vomiting and diarrhea causes a dog with parvo to lose water and electrolytes. Always keep your dog hydrated with clean water. We recommend adding an electrolyte supplement to your dog’s drinking water to replenish lost electrolyte. Luckily, our best-selling product Bullyade dog vitamins supplement contains enough electrolytes to help a sick dog recover from parvo. Bullyade supplement for puppies with parvo also has the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your dog healthy- especially if they are feeding well.
If you made it till the end, we hope your question ‘how do dogs get parvo?’ is fully answered. Canine parvo virus is a serious disease that can claim a puppy’s life if left undetected and treated. The first fight against parvo is maintaining hygiene in your home. If you are nursing a pup or older dog with parvovirus, ensure you keep the dog isolated to prevent the virus from spreading. Always disinfect contaminated surfaces including the clothes and tools you use to handle the sick dog.
Parvovirus drains your dog’s body water and energy. Ensure you replenish your dog’s lost electrolytes with pet supplements like Bullyade. Bullyade for dogs has the vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes a dog needs to fight parvo.