Parvo is a deadly viral disease of dogs


Parvo is a viral disease of dogs.  Parvovirus which is sometimes shortened to just Parvo for a name sake.  It can hit them at any age, but mostly when young.  For definitions of Parvovirus, please, follow this link:  When Parvo hits a dog it will attack the intestinal lining.  On the intestinal lining their are villi, which are like fingers or blades of grass.  I like to use the term blades of grass.  There are 3 different viral families that will attack the intestines of dogs.  First there Roto virus, this virus attacks the tips of the villi and mows them off like your lawn mower does grass with the deck set at the highest setting.  Second is corona virus, this virus mows the villi off half way up, like your lawn mower set half way down.  Parvo will mow the villi off at the base, like a string trimmer tilted on the side scalping the dirt.

What you cannot see parvo doing

Now you can see all of the irritation in the intestines of the dog.  With this irritation you will then get vomiting and bloody diarrhea.  Especially since the intestinal absorptive surface is being destroyed.  With the villi mowed off we will get a malabsorption-maldigestion syndrome.  Vomiting will not allow the dog to keep any food or water down thus they will dehydrate and get their electrolytes out of balance.

Now along with all of this damage to the intestinal tract, Parvo will also suppress the immune system.  This is just like HIV and AIDS in people.  It will allow other common bacteria to infect the dog, that generally shouldn’t.

Prevention of Parvo

The best protection against this deadly disease is to vaccinate.  Now, I have heard it too many times, “He has had all his shots!”  When in reality the dog has only gotten one or two doses of Parvo vaccine at around 6-8 weeks of age.  In order to stimulate immunity in a puppy we need to vaccinate the pup every 2 weeks until he is at least 15-16 weeks of age.  This is because his maternal antibody will block him from responding to our vaccine until his maternal protection from his momma has waned down.  And we do know that the street form of Parvo can infect a pup a little before his maternal antibody gets down that low.  So, I quote from the World Rabies Association and the American Animal Hospital Association that, “It is recommended that we vaccinate puppies until they are at least 16 weeks of age, but no closer than 2 weeks apart from vaccines.”  Some even recommend going until they are 18-20 weeks of age.  By starting Parvo vaccines in puppies at 7-10 weeks of age and re-vaccinating every two weeks until we are 15-16 weeks of age, and boostering every year, we are going to have better protection.