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Animal House: A Killer Virus

local pups
Flickr via Creative Commons
An unvaccinated puppy is vulnerable to the deadly parvovirus.

Responsible pet parents always get their animals vaccinated when they're young. One common vaccination is for the highly contagious and deadly parvovirus.

  • Parvo is a highly contagious virus. Without previous vaccinations against it, when a puppy is exposed, it can cause a gastrointestinal illness. Without immediate professional treatment, it is potentially deadly.
  • When a puppy is nursing, it gains natural protection from its mother against parvovirus. Once weaned, that protection vanishes and puppies must be vaccinated.
  • Once infected, the virus moves swiftly. If your puppy is vomiting and listless, get him to the vet immediately for treatment. It's possible to treat parvovirus, but it must be done soon after infection.  In spite of treatment, there's still a high mortality rate from this disease.
  • It's a puppy's natural curiosity that puts it at risk for parvovirus. It can be transmitted in two ways. The first is by direct contact through the nose and mouth with infected feces, which can happen when a dog sniffs or licks a surface or another dog that has been contaminated with feces. The second way is through indirect contact, since the virus can survive on clothing, flooring and bedding after its been contaminated.
  • You can protect your dog from parvovirus by consulting with your veterinarian about getting the appropriate vaccinations.

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.