In a scene reminiscent of an episode of ‘Criminal Minds’, local police last week in the upstate New York community of Troy, NY discovered the dead bodies of seven puppies scattered along the Uncle Sam bike path. Autopsies confirmed all seven of the young pups had died from the highly contagious virus called Canine parovirus, sometimes shortened to the moniker ‘Parvo’.
According to the Baker Institute for Animal Health, Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious virus that causes acute gastrointestinal illness in puppies between six and 20 weeks old, but older animals are sometimes also affected. A rare variant of the disease that may be seen in younger puppies result in a deadly inflammation of the heart muscle.
How common is Parvo and what are the odds your puppy may catch it?
Parvo is spread through infected dog feces and is normally spread through direct contact with the virus. The virus lives for a longtime outside of the body, even in winter and can be carried and tracked on a person’s shoe into your home or onto your lawn. It is common in kennels and can be present in dog carriers, on dog beds, at a dog wash, and anywhere an infected dog has been. How parvo spreads.
If your dog does contract parvo, without professional treatment, it will most likely die, as did the seven puppies found on the Troy bike path.
How do you protect your best four-legged friend?
First things first, like humans, a vaccinated dog is a happy and healthy dog. Usually, dogs start getting a series of vaccinations from 6 weeks old to 16 weeks old which includes the CPV vaccine. Boosters are available and recommended every one to three years. If the mother dog has been vaccinated against Parvo, she most probably will pass that protection to her puppies through her milk. If you do not know the status of your dog, take it now to be vaccinated, especially if it is at risk for becoming pregnant, and/or spends time around strange dogs.
Secondly, If you suspect your home and yard have been contaminated by an infected dog the virus can be killed by bleach. Clean with a solution of one part bleach mixed with 30 parts water. This will disinfect any indoor area (including bedding, food/water bowls, and all surfaces) that once housed an infected dog. Outside you will have to rely on sunlight and rain or lawn watering to dilute and sanitize the virus from the lawn.
Puppies are special little creatures that bring much joy and happiness to everyone who encounters them. Keep yours healthy and safe and you will have a loyal friend for life.