Has your puppy been vaccinated against parvovirus?

Remember to vaccinate your puppies against parvovirus! Parvovirus (‘parvo’) is a highly contagious, viral disease affecting the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. Symptoms of parvo are often non-specific to start with - lethargy, lack of appetite and fever. This usually progresses to vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. The disease can progress quickly and severe disease often results in death.

Young (6 weeks – 6 months) unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated puppies are most at risk of catching parvo. Dogs can catch parvo by directly contacting faeces containing the virus (e.g. sniffing/licking/eating), as well as indirectly by contacting contaminated objects such as food/water bowls or footwear. Signs typically occur within 5-7 days of being exposed.

You can lower the chances of your at-risk puppy getting parvo by:

  • Getting them vaccinated by your veterinarian. Parvo is highly preventable through vaccination.
  • Keeping them away from unvaccinated dogs and public areas where dogs commonly walk.
  • Keeping them restricted to properties with no history of parvovirus.
  • Ensuring you (or visitors) aren’t bringing potentially contaminated material onto your property (clean the poo from the shoe!)

However, it is also extremely important for your puppy to be well-socialised when it is young. The socialisation period is when puppies are most accepting of new experiences and is generally between the ages of 3 weeks and 12-16 weeks. To socialise your puppy, enrol them in activities like puppy classes, and check out the Puppy Socialisation Bingo chart from Fear Free Pets for other ideas on how to socialise your puppy before it has completed its vaccinations.

The incidence of parvo varies between areas. Talk to your veterinarian about the local parvo risk, and an appropriate vaccination and socialisation programme for your puppy.