Parvovirus is a serious infectious disease. Humans and cats are not at risk of contracting this disease but dogs have been victims of this virus since it first appeared in 1978.

Parvovirus or parvo as it is sometime known is a very contagious disease. In its less common form it attacks the heart muscle in young puppies. Because breeding dogs are now commonly vaccinated for parvo, this form of the disease is rarely seen, but if you suspect it in your puppy, get him to the vet immediately.

The more common form of parvo infects a dog’s intestines. This form of the disease can affect dogs of all ages and breeds.

The symptoms of parvovirus will appear anywhere from 3-10 days after a dog has been exposed. If you think your dog has been exposed to parvovirus, quickly get him to a veterinarian. A dog’s only hope for recovery from this virus is quick action.

Symptoms of parvovirus include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (this can contain blood and have a foul odor)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms and you think he may have been exposed to parvovirus it is important to get prompt treatment. Parvo is transmitted most commonly through infected stool. Dogs are often sniffing the feces of other dogs.

Because parvo is a virus there is no cure, but your veterinarian can attempt to treat with intravenous fluids and antibiotics in an effort to prevent secondary infections. When it comes to parvovirus, the best treatment is prevention. Have your puppy vaccinated for the disease.

If your dog has parvovirus, prevent the spread to other dogs in the household using a solution of bleach to clean all surfaces that may contain the virus. Parvo is so contagious because it is resistant to both heat and cold and most household disinfectants. Bleach is the only product found to be effective against parvovirus.

Grief counseling is available if you lose your dog to this terrible disease. The Hillsborough Animal Health Foundation offers phone counseling, a support group and one- on-one discussion.

You can also find support with the Tampa Bay Area Pet Loss Support Group. Meetings are held once a month.