A potentially deadly disease is attacking dogs and it doesn't seem to be going away. Parvovirus is something that vets see year round, especially in the summer and it's a devastating disease.
"The biggest sign that we see with parvovirus is diarrhea," explained Dr Christine Ewert Hill with Head for the Hills Vet Services in Carlyle, "and sometimes some vomiting. Typically the diarrhea has blood in it because the virus attacks the lining of the gut. But they can have diarrhea without blood in it and that's still something to make attention to."
"The other thing we find with parvovirus is dogs dehydrate very quickly when they have it. Often they will show a little bit of diarrhea and within a few hours, they will already be getting very weak and sometimes they're very sleepy and don't have any energy and they need to be seen by a veterinarian right away. "
"The best way to prevent it is to actually vaccinate the dog before they are exposed. Before getting a new puppy, it doesn't hurt to have the breeder give the first vaccine and that gives them a good start on vaccinations. Usually we vaccinate puppies at two, three, and four months of age for parvovirus and then once a year after that."
Dr. Ewert Hill adds that the virus is very hardy one that is often very difficult to destroy.
"The thing about parvo is , it's a really tough virus. It gets on the environment and heat doesn't kill, extreme cold doesn't kill it, sunlight doesn't kill it. It's a really hardy virus. Your pet doesn't even have to mix with other dogs in order for it to come in contact with that virus."
"So for example, if you go for a walk in the park where a little bit of that virus is on the ground, and then go home and visit your dog, you can carry that virus in even on your shoes."
"If they have been around that virus whether it's from another dog shedding it or on the ground or whatever, it can be seven days later before they start showing signs. it's between a three and ten day incubation period. In hindsight, if you know your dog has been around a dog that has come down with parvo, and your jog isn't vaccinated, you would want to hurry to the vet clinic and get him a vaccine and try and get in front of it a little bit."
Since it is such a hardy virus, cleaning it from your home can be tricky.
"There are some cleaning products out there that will kill it. Bleach is actually quite effective on it and also there are some products that hospitals and vet clinics use that are good at killing that virus, but those products don't work if there's any organic material left behind.
"The other tricky thing is that if you have a dog run outside, it's really, really hard to clean that. And it can stay in the environment for up to a year."
One positive about parvovirus is that is does not affect humans.