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Puppy Vaccination Series: Canine Parvovirus in Massachusetts

canine-parvovirusWhen it comes to taking care of your pets, it is important to do all that you can to prevent disease before they ever come in contact with it. After adopting a brand new puppy, it is important to schedule a veterinary exam and begin the standard puppy vaccination series to prevent common illnesses and issues that many dogs in America face today. One of those diseases is known as canine parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease that can quickly become life-threatening. While there are treatments available in some cases, the best way to keep your dog safe is by preventing canine parvovirus in the first place.

What is Canine Parvovirus?
As a viral disease, canine parvovirus attacks dogs quickly by rapidly dividing the cells, attacking the white blood cells and affecting the heart muscle. Even dogs who survive this disease can end up with severe damage to the intestinal tract or suffer with cardiac problems throughout their lives. Puppies, young dogs and dogs who have never had the canine parvovirus vaccine are the most susceptible to contracting this virus.

Outside of domesticated dogs, other members of the canine family are also affected, such as coyotes, wolves and foxes. Some domestic breeds are more susceptible than others, including German shepherds, Laborador retrievers, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and American Staffordshire terriers. Regardless of your dog’s breed, it is important to bring them to your local Dartmouth animal hospital for a new puppy exam, testing and vaccination for canine parvovirus and other common ailments as soon as possible.

How is Canine Parvovirus Diagnosed?
The best way to identify whether or not your dog has canine parvovirus is to bring him in for a veterinary exam at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. Symptoms to watch out for include severe vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and a foul-smelling diarrhea that can sometimes be bloody. All of these symptoms lead to dehydration, which is the most dangerous side-effect of canine parvovirus, which can severely weaken the animal and lead to death.

The virus is diagnosed by a veterinary exam that includes laboratory testing. The test for canine parvovirus is called the enzyme linked immunosorbant assay or ELISA. A test kit is used to check a dog’s stool sample to detect the virus and is performed in the Dartmouth animal hospital exam room in about 15 minutes. Results are immediate. However, because of the seriousness of the disease and the high instance of error in testing, your veterinarian may order additional testing and bloodwork that could take a couple of days to complete.

How is Canine Parvovirus Transmitted?
It is important for pet owners to know that canine parvovirus is extremely contagious and it can be transmitted after coming in contact with the feces of an infected dog. That means a simple trip to the pet store, dog park or a meet-and-greet with a neighbor dog could put your dog in contact with the virus. The only way to prevent infection is to make sure your dog gets the full puppy vaccination series so he will be protected.

It is important to know that canine parvovirus can live within the environment for months, surviving on plastic or metal food bowls, carpets, floors, clothes and shoes. What that means is that even if your dog doesn’t come in contact with the virus directly, you could bring it in after a walk through the park or a ride on public transportation. The puppy vaccination series is the most successful means of prevention, as the most common way that unvaccinated dogs contract the virus is not from other dogs, but from the streets in urban areas.

What is in the Puppy Vaccination Series?
In addition to the canine parvovirus vaccine, the puppy vaccination series that you can get at your dog’s first well-check veterinary exam also includes four other vaccines. The most common vaccine given is known in the veterinary medicine field as a “5 in 1,” and also includes hepatitis, parainfluenza (dog flu), leptospirosis and distemper. Puppies should get the first shot between 6-8 weeks of age. Booster shots are given again every four weeks until the puppy is between 16-20 weeks old. A final booster is given again at 12 months.

It is important to return to your local Dartmouth animal hospital to continue the shot series until it is complete. Dogs that do not complete the series are susceptible to parvovirus and other diseases. If you adopt a puppy that is older than four months of age, ask to see his shot records. If none are provided, bring your puppy in for a veterinary exam and discuss the benefits of beginning the puppy vaccination series. For older dogs, speak with your veterinarian about any shots that might be recommended to protect your dog from infection.

Get a Veterinary Exam at Anchor Animal Hospital
Schedule your puppy or new pet for a veterinary exam at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. Our team will help you set a schedule for your puppy vaccination series and make sure that your dog is protected from canine parvovirus and other life-threatening diseases. Give our team a call or visit our local office to find out more about the services that we provide to local residents and their pets at our Dartmouth animal hospital.