Last week I received an email that there was an outbreak of the canine parvovirus. A friend shared that a dog at a local pet expo passed away and everyone who came into contact with the dog was exposed to the virus as well. The news states that the cases are currently located in Snohomish County and it’s Everett veterinarians who are reporting the rise. Whatever the case, it’s important that all dog owners be educated about this deadly virus.
We have first hand experience with canine parvovirus. Our puppy, Riley, passed away a week after we adopted her and it broke our hearts. What I learned during that week (and the weeks following) was that there is a tremendous amount of bad information on the Internet, which prompted me to create a page on Keep the Tail Wagging about the virus…
What is parvo?
I learned that parvo started as a mutation of a cat virus in the 70s that was killed dogs rapidly. Today, parvo is prevalent in some parts of the country and it seems like a rarity in others (like Western Washington). We learned that just because we don’t hear about the canine parvovirus in our area doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist nor does this suggest that it’s been eradicated in an area. Vaccinations can’t always keep puppies safe, but they’re a great first step to helping puppies survive the virus.
The canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that attacks a puppy’s body, causing secondary infections. The veterinarian compared it to the flu to help me understand. There is no cure for the flu or cold; we take medication to provide comfort while the virus works through our body. In puppies and dogs, the canine parvovirus severely affects the intestinal track and the white blood cells. Riley’s count was near zero when she passed away. The virus can also damage the heart muscles, leading to cardiac arrest or lifetime issues.
The canine parvovirus outbreak in Western Washington has lead to the closure of local dog parks: “The off-leash parks that are closing include Howarth Park on Olympic Blvd., Loganberry Lane Park near 18th Avenue West and Lowell Park, near the corner of 46th Street and South 3rd Avenue.”
Once the canine parvovirus is in an area, it takes time for the virus to go away…
How long can the parvovirus live?
Someone shared that the parvovirus will die in extreme cold; this is not the case. Extreme heat and cold (freezing temperatures) doesn’t appear to have an ill effect on the parvovirus. Heavy rains (or using a garden hose) can help to disburse the virus, but it won’t rid our property of the virus. Therefore, we would not invite anyone to bring their unvaccinated puppy to our property. And we will no longer adopt unvaccinated puppies. This is a choice we’ve made based on the information we’ve learned from veterinarians and families who have experienced parvovirus.
To be honest, the canine parvovirus is all around us. It may not be as prevalent in some areas as it is in others, but it’s a reality, which is why keeping our puppies home until they’re fully vaccinated is important. We also need to watch out for the health of dogs who have compromised immune systems. If you’re a regular to the dog park or just need new ideas of where you can take your dogs, check out these Alternatives to the Dog Park.
My heart breaks for the family who lost their dog and anyone who is nursing a sick dog. It was a painful week for us that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
With Mommy Bloggers being all the rage, Kimberly Gauthier writes about dogs and being a Fur Mom. She don't have kids, so she's been on the receiving end of the "it'll happen" statements and looks of pity when people realize that she's made it to the big FOUR OH without conceiving. Fur Mommy Bloggers have a voice too and Gauthier intends to profile her journey with "The Fur Mom" feature on the Girl Power Hour blog. She says, we spoil our kids, we worry about nutrition and we schedule play dates...just as fur mom's do. And let's face it, puppy classes are a lot less spendy than private school. Follow Kimberly on Twitter at @TheFurMom
* This post is from a Girl Power Hour featured blogger. It is not written, edited or endorsed by Girl Power Hour. The authors are solely responsible for content.
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