Canine parvovirus, which killed as many as60 dogs in Michigan last month, appears to be spreading, with suspected casesnow appearing in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. A highly contagious virus,parvovirus is easily prevented, and local veterinarian Nicole Azene of OnalaskaAnimal Hospital is urging dog owners throughout the community to take thosepreventions steps.
Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are mostsusceptible to the virus. Parvovirus is a gastrointestinal illness with symptomsincluding reduced appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting and severe diarrhea. Accordingto the American Veterinary Medical Association, the resulting dehydration fromthe illness can damage dogs’ intestines and immune system, potentially leadingto septic shock.
“From recent cases in Michigan, it’s clearthat canine parvovirus is a serious illness. Fifteen percent of dogs infectedwill die from the virus, making it one of the leading infectious causes of dogmortality,” said Azene. “While there’s no medication to kill the virus, it’seasily prevented by simple, up-to-date vaccines and boosters. That makes thesedeaths even sadder.”
According to the American Animal HospitalAssociation, puppies should receive their first dose of the vaccine between 6to 8 weeks of age, followed by an additional vaccine every 2 to 4 weeks untilthey’re 16 weeks old. Then, they should be revaccinated within a year followingthe last shot and receive boosters every three years.
Research has shown parvovirus vaccines arehighly effective. For example, a clinical study from vaccine manufacturerNobivac found their vaccine provides 99.5% to 100% protection from parvovirus.And NeoPar reports 100% antibody response when administered to 5-week-oldpuppies.
In some rare cases, dogs may not develop immunitywith the vaccine.
“In addition to the vaccine, we adviseowners to keep their dogs, especially puppies, away from other dogs who may nothave been vaccinated or are sick. And because parvovirus spreads through director indirect contact with fecal matter, it’s important to keep your dog awayfrom other canine waste and maintain good hygiene,” said Azene.
“The most important thing dog owners can dois talk with their veterinarians about vaccines and other precautions. Treatingparvovirus can cost thousands of dollars, but the highest cost could be thelife of your animal companion.”
Onalaska Animal Hospital opened in 2022, becoming the first newveterinary clinic to open in La Crosse County in 30 years. Owned by NicoleAzene, DVM, and her husband Ezana Azene, MD, the hospital provides preventive,routine, diagnostic, dental and surgical care in a state-of-the-art facilityand fear-free environment. For more information about Onalaska Animal Hospital,visit onalaskaanimalhospital.com.