Let’s face it. If you moved from another region, let’s say one with more greenery, then one of the first things you might have noticed is the massive amount of dirt and dust we have in our little Silver State. Winters get cold, not usually to the point of freezing for long, but still too chilly to live constantly outdoors. It rains, and yes, we have an excessive amount of heat during those murderous summer months. So, what does all of this weather spell for your pet? Certain diseases and parasites are prone to this Valley, simply by the weather conditions we experience. Some are deadly to your pet, some cause havoc for the entire family, and some can make all family members, not just the furry ones, very ill.
The focus for now is a disease called parvovirus. We are speaking of only the canine disease, and no, it is not a disease you can contract. Young dogs and puppies are very susceptible to this disease, and it is often fatal in the very young and certain smaller breeds. A few dog breeds are often more prone to it than others, namely the Rottweiler and Pit Bull breeds, but do not let this fool you by any stretch of the imagination. All, and yes, that is all dog breeds can contract parvovirus, and although vaccines given at the right increments and dosages certainly is the best thing to do, also keeping your new puppy isolated until all vaccine series have been given is by far together the best advice.
Does this mean little “Tink” can’t go to parks and on walks yet like the big boys? Yes. Keep the puppy in your home and socialize only with friends, family members, and dogs that have known vaccine histories while in your home. The restroom area should be an isolated area, either in your backyard or on potty-pads (especially if in an apartment-type situation). This is not a life-sentence, but until roughly 16 weeks of age (ask your particular Veterinarian for their recommendation of last vaccine ages-it varies by manufacturer of the vaccines, and region you live in, etc.) your puppy is not fully protected. Leaving the home should be to go to your Veterinary appointments only until those last shots are given. Your dog, your decision, but it’s a huge risk to take for one quick little jot to the local “pet-friendly” pet store to show off your new friend.
Going into semantics; vomiting, bloody diarrhea, no willingness to eat, and so on and so forth until the Veterinary bill is now close to or in the thousand dollar plus range just for treatment, if the most aggressive treatment is not used, and someone is feeling awfully nice that day, is what you should expect if you have a “parvo-puppy” on your hands. If the vaccine is just a little out of your price range, or not in time, or if you find yourself in a bad situation, it’s going to get a whole lot worse if this disease shows up. And this means getting the series, not just one shot. High range $10 a shot, 3-4 times…Do the math. Prevention is also cheaper.
And like most things, prevention is often key and it certainly is the case here as well. Prevent this disease from ever happening and your pet and your pocketbook will thank you. Let’s not even mention the other, more horrible side of the coin if the treatment team is unsuccessful and the disease that has claimed so many, wins yet again. That situation is hard on everyone involved, and there is no making it better.
However, diseases happen, life happens, puppies that already have parvovirus (unbeknownst to us) somehow wind up in our loving hands (and they have a name already…), and diseases are not picky about who or why they choose. So, what to do now if you wind up with a puppy that has parvovirus?
Know first that this disease is highly contagious, and can live on almost any surface for a good 6-10 month time frame unless properly killed or contacted items disposed of. If you were one of the unfortunate victims of having had to fight this disease with a pet, then you are probably well aware of the bleach foot-baths and protective clothing and gloves required just for treatment of that puppy by the veterinary staff. This is all in hopes of isolating it to that one treatment ward in the hospital. All items at home should be thrown away. This includes blankets, bedding, toys, and all items that have had contact with the disease. All areas should also be thoroughly disinfected with a solution that is effective against the disease.
There are also sprays that can be purchased (talk to your Veterinarian for recommendations of products) that are specifically designed to kill the disease in your yard. Parvovirus can also last in your soil, and in our climate it will definitely survive for the 6-10 month range that it has been known to last. We don’t typically freeze, and certainly not for long, so the “dormant phase” that occurs in colder climates typically doesn’t apply here. (Visit www.avma.org/animal_healthfor more information).
Then, after all of these steps have been taken, even before considering another pet, a minimum of 6 months should pass before another puppy should even come in contact with the same, non-replaceable areas, let alone make its new home there.
Life may happen, but with an ounce of prevention this disease should hopefully only be the name of a vaccine that you get for your pet throughout their lifespan. For more information on this disease, and many others, please visit the American Veterinary Medical Association at www.avma.org.
Spending some quality at-home training time in the beginning ages helps tremendously too, by not exposing your new loved one to various things that they have not yet been protected against. Start handing out the favors in the beginning, starting with preventative medicine. You’ll both be glad you did.