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Kern County is no stranger to parvovirus -- for some time now, we've suffered from disproportionately large rates of the disease. The epicenter of the problem appears to be the Kern County Animal Control Shelter, where dogs are under an exceptionally high risk of parvovirus infection, according to Animal Control Director Jen Woodard. If you live in Kern County, protect your dog with regular parvovirus vaccinations.
Parvovirus is a highly contagious canine disease that, once contracted, is often deadly and difficult to treat. Most cases of parvovirus are seen in puppies aged six weeks to six months, although the disease can infect older dogs. At Thurman Veterinary Center, we recommend a round of three parvovirus vaccinations in puppies at beginning at six to eight weeks of age and repeated at ten and 12 weeks of age.
When you adopt a new puppy, it's vital to have him tested for parvovirus right away. The virus has an incubation period of up to two weeks, so a puppy that looks healthy when you get him may later become sick and die. More than one Kern County resident or rescue organization has unwittingly acquired a sick animal.
The virus's incubation period is what supports its spread. To make matters worse, parvovirus is incredibly hardy. It can live in the soil for up to one year. It's resistant to most disinfectants and is spread through direct contact or the feces of infected dogs.
Once a puppy or dog comes down with parvo symptoms, he'll need to be admitted into an animal hsopital for treatment -- but the virus is so virulent, even round-the-clock care in an animal hospital might not save him.
Canine parvovirus commonly infects the intestines. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, extreme weight loss, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Dehydration and weakness occur quickly, as the virus inhibits the body's ability to absorb nutrition. You may notice inflammation of the soft tissues in the eyes and mouth, and your dog's abdomen may be sensitive to the touch. Some dogs exhibit an abnormally low body temperature instead of a fever.
If your dog contracts parvo, get him to our vet center right away for treatment. Though there's no cure for parvovirus, supportive care may save his life. Intravenous fluids can combat your dog's dehydration and meet his nutrition needs, while medication can ease his vomiting and diarrhea. Veterinary supervision in an animal hospital will also be necessary to protect your dog from the very real possibility of secondary infection.
About 70 percent of adult dogs diagnosed with parvovirus survive, but that survival rate is lower for puppies, because their youth and lower immunity makes them more susceptible to infection. Even after your dog recovers, he'll be weak and vulnerable to disease, and will remain contagious for at least eight weeks.
If you live in the Bakersfield, CA area and your dog is not already vaccinated for parvo, visit Thurman Veterinary Center and set your dog up for a long, happy and healthy life.
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