Canine parvovirus, a fast-acting, potentially deadly gastrointestinal disease in puppies and adult dogs, is alive and well in Tampa Bay. The Humane Society of Tampa Bay’s Animal Health Center has seen a significant rise in the number of owned pets infected with the disease and is urging citizens to make sure their pets are vaccinated.
Parvovirus most frequently attacks puppies younger than one year of age, but unvaccinated adult dogs are also susceptible. While most infected adults recover, with expensive treatment, as many as 25% to 50% of infected puppies die from the disease if not diagnosed and treated immediately.
“Parvo is a devastating, highly-contagious and costly disease that strikes rapidly and without warning,” said HSTB Executive Director Sherry Silk. “Thankfully, a vaccination is available and we urge the community to make sure their dogs are up-to-date on their shots.”
Vaccinations for parvovirus are available at the Society’s Animal Health Center (813-870-3304) as well as veterinary practices, mobile clinics and some pet stores across Tampa Bay.
Puppies are not fully immunized from the disease until they complete their initial vaccination and a series of booster shots, at four months of age. Adult dogs should receive their vaccination on an annual basis to remain protected.
HOW PARVOVIRUS SPREADS
Parvovirus spreads when a dog comes in contact with the feces of an infected dog. Warm weather provides a perfect environment for the virus to thrive, allowing it to remain infectious on contaminated ground for months. Therefore, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay recommends keeping puppies under four months and unvaccinated adult dogs away from areas with lots of dog traffic (parks, beaches, kennels, pet stores, etc) to avoid possible infection.
SYMPTOMS OF PARVOVIRUS
Early diagnosis is critical to providing immediate and life-saving treatment. If your pet displays any of the following symptoms, please contact our Animal Health Center (813-870-3304) or your veterinarian immediately.
- Lack of appetite
- Lethargy or listlessness
- Abdominal distention (pot belly) or discomfort
- Signs of dehydration
- Bloody diarrhea
- Profuse diarrhea
TREATMENT OF PARVOVIRUS
Treatment involves addressing dehydration and preventing fatal infection. A rapid, in-clinic test will confirm the presence of the virus. For a mildly affected pet (usually an adult dog), outpatient care may be all that is needed. For severely affected pets (typically puppies) hospitalization is generally required.