Parvo arrives in the Verde Valley

The Verde Valley Humane Society “Pet of the Week” is going to be O.J., a short-haired adult male cat. This cute little guy seems to be waiting patiently for the right person to walk in the door.  He is neutered and ready to go home with you today. O.J. promises he won’t be much trouble and that his grooming will be minimal. His adoption fee has been discounted by $15 thanks to some very generous “Animal Angels.”

The Verde Valley Humane Society “Pet of the Week” is going to be O.J., a short-haired adult male cat. This cute little guy seems to be waiting patiently for the right person to walk in the door. He is neutered and ready to go home with you today. O.J. promises he won’t be much trouble and that his grooming will be minimal. His adoption fee has been discounted by $15 thanks to some very generous “Animal Angels.”

At times it's very easy to write my column due to the fact that events happen, diseases return or due to the fact that I once again need to help increase awareness on a certain topic.

Due to the mild weather that the Verde Valley has experienced this winter, it has not stayed cold enough, long enough to fight off the dreaded unwanted disease called parvovirus.

Please watch for any different behavior in your "canine best friend" plus any signs of illness. Parvo can be a killer of man's best friend in a very short period of time.

One day your pet is fine, the next you see something a little different in his health and behavior and the next day he may succumb to this deadly disease.

Parvovirus is a viral disease of dogs. Puppies are much more affected than adult dogs. The virus likes to grow in rapidly dividing cells.

The area in a dog's body, which is affected the most is the intestinal lining. Even the heart muscle in very young puppies can be infected with parvo and lead to "sudden" death.

Since parvo is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system, it causes dogs and puppies to not be able to absorb nutrients or liquids.

The reason that puppies are so prone to it is because they have an immature immune system. When parvo is contracted it causes diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting and lethargy.

Parvo can be brought home to your dog on your shoes, clothes, hands and even on the tires of your car. Please use precautions if you suspect any disease.

Birds can also pass the virus from location to location by stepping in something contaminated and taking it to another location. Parvovirus is of course also carried by dogs.

Adult dogs can be infected carriers without showing any visible signs of the disease. This virus can last in the environment perhaps as long as nine to 12 months.

It normally takes seven to ten days from the time of exposure for puppies and dogs to start showing the signs and test positive for parvo.

There have been years when a strain had an incubation period of 21 days. We're hoping to not see that type of parvo this year, as it can devastate a kennel.

The parvo virus is extremely resistant to most cleaning agents. Areas that you believe could have been contaminated with parvo should be washed thoroughly with chlorine bleach diluted one ounce bleach per quart of water.

Parvo is not an airborne disease. It has to be transmitted by contact with something that has been contaminated or infected with the virus.

If you feel that you may have been in contact with the virus directly, wash your clothes, shoes and hands with a chlorine bleach solution to reduce the chance of infecting your dog.

Parvovirus is specific to dogs alone and cannot be transmitted to humans or pets of different species, such as cats.

If your dog shows any signs of parvo, contact your vet immediately. Without intense treatment, the victims of parvo usually die of dehydration.

Treatment usually consists of IV or sub-cutaneous fluids and antibiotics. There is no cure for the virus.

The vet can only treat the symptoms palliatively, and try to keep the dog alive by the prevention of dehydration and loss of proteins.

This treatment also includes giving fluids, regulation of electrolyte levels, controlling body temperature and giving blood transfusions if necessary.

Puppies negative for parvo one day could submit to the virus within a matter of just days. This disease strikes fast, hard and shows no mercy.

If you notice any symptoms, please call your vet without delay. Your fast action may help save your "best friend's" life.

One of the best recommendations is to stick to the vaccination schedule advised by your vet. This schedule usually begins when puppies are six to eight weeks old, normally given in a series of three with a 21-day lapse in between injections.

Schedule a vet visit as soon as you get your new puppy and talk to your vet about his/her choice of immunizations and schedules. Normally a parvo-distemper immunization is combined at the same time. This shot protects your animal from potentially fatal canine diseases.

As much as you want to show off your new canine friend, they shouldn't be allowed to socialize with other dogs or frequent areas where other dogs go until at least two weeks after they have had their series of vaccinations.

Call the vet immediately, time is of the essence. Keep the infected dog isolated from all other dogs for at least one month after a full recovery. Make sure that you clean up all of your dog's stools immediately, his area being away from your other animal's area.

Use a 1:30 ratio of chlorine bleach and water to clean food and water bowls. Wash the dog's bedding in the bleach solution above. Disinfect any other areas that your dog goes into.

Do not cross contaminate areas by using your contaminated hands or wearing your contaminated clothes or shoes around the healthy dogs in your home. This will take some extra work on your part, but it will help save the lives of your other healthy animals.

Keep you dog on the bland diet recommended by your vet until a normal diet is ready to be tolerated. Communication between you and your vet is of the utmost importance.

If you have had parvo in your home, use the recommended bleach solution and disinfect everything possible in your home.

Yes, it can bleach the color out of fabrics and carpets; read the instructions before you destroy something of value. Also soak the yard, it's better to kill the plants and grass than it is to kill your next dog.

Parvo can live in your home and yard for an indefinite period of time. If you want to get another dog, please check with your vet for recommendations.

With quick action on your part, your dog can be saved. When I first began at VVHS, I adopted a small pup with parvo.

At the first sign of symptoms, Honey was rushed to the vet. Within a two-day period, we had her back home acting like her normal mischievous self. Today you would never know that she was ever sick. Prompt action and the proper vet care were the only things that saved her life.

If you feel your "best friend" is sick, please don't hesitate to make a vet appointment. The Verde Valley Humane Society will pay the office call for you.

Stop in the shelter located at 1502 W. Mingus, fill in a request for vet assistance. Once approved, a check will be processed made out to the vet of your choice.

Please "be aware" when it comes to the health of your pets. Don't wait for the symptoms to become worse. Each day counts when it comes to parvo.

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