Canine Parvovirus Warning

At Castle Vets over the last week we have treated 3 puppies with confirmed Canine Parvovirus; sadly one of them didn’t survive because she was far too poorly to recover, despite her owners bringing her in quickly and treatment being given.

As far as we are aware, these puppies were new to their homes and had not yet started going for walks, so it is most likely that the virus was in their litter, rather than contracting it after sale. This means that there should be minimal risk to other dogs in the Reading area as the virus will be reasonably contained.  The two surviving puppies are doing well and their owners have been asked to keep them quarantined for another few weeks to prevent the virus spreading to other dogs.

What is Canine Parvovirus?

Parvo is a highly contagious canine virus that may produce the following clinical symptoms

  • Inappetence
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea -often containing blood (haemorrhagic gastroenteritis)
  • High temperature
  • Dehydration
  • Heart problems
  • Secondary infections.

If your puppy or dog shows any of the symptoms, please take him or her to see your vet as quickly as possible.  

Because the clinical symptoms usually take 3-10 days to manifest after exposure to the virus, many new puppy owners think they are purchasing a healthy puppy, only to have him or her fall ill a few days after coming home.

How is Parvovirus treated?

Parvovirus can be fatal if treatment isn’t started quickly enough and is particularly dangerous to puppies, especially if their mother was not vaccinated, but unvaccinated dogs of any age can become infected and fall ill with the virus.

Treatment of Parvovirus can be very costly because infected animals require intensive nursing, intravenous fluids or a plasma/whole blood transfusion, nutritional support and medications for several days.

Dogs and puppies with parvovirus must be treated in the isolation/quarantine kennels at a veterinary practice and ‘barrier-nursed’ so that there is no risk to other patients who are visiting or being treated at the veterinary practice. This includes the use of protective and disposable clothing (gloves, aprons, masks and plastic overshoes) and foot disinfectant baths.

Parvovirus can be passed on to other dogs for up 1-3 weeks after the infected dog has recovered, so home quarantine after recovery is important. This virus is highly resistant compared with other canine viruses and is especially hard to destroy because it is not affected by many of the commonly used disinfectants and it can survive for over a year in the right environment; both of which facilitate its spread to other dogs.

A Puppy with Parvovirus

How to prevent Parvovirus

Ensure that your puppy and dog vaccinations are up to date so that they are fully protected from this virus.

For more information on why it is important to vaccinate your dog please read our article about Why We Recommend Vaccination – The Facts

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A Puppy with a nasogastric feeding tube and receiving intravenous fluids

If you are buying a puppy

Please make sure that you

  • Buy your puppy from a reputable breeder
  • See your puppy and his/her littermates suckling from their mother
  • Have seen proof that the mother is fully vaccinated and that the vaccinations are up to date. If in doubt, ask if you can phone the breeder’s veterinary practice to check – a good breeder should be more than happy for you to do this.

We also recommend that you avoid buying puppies that are being sold in pet shops, via free-ads and on online sites such as gumtree and pets4homes. Remember that no reputable breeder who cares about animal welfare would ever sell puppies through these places.

For more information on buying a puppy please read our article How to choose your new pet