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Parvovirus infection is the #1 killer of puppies. This page outlines my review on this topic. My research included an intensive search of literature on the Internet, discussions with vets in small animal practice and vet representatives for the chemical companies who produced vaccines. All of this was important and helpful, but the most influential information came from breeders and vets doing clinical trials on this disease. Parvo strikes fear in the heart of every breeder. There is no cure. Vets treat the symptoms with no guarantee of a positive outcome. Fewer than 30% of infected puppies survive. Generally, buyers are unaware of the seriousness of this disease. They grasp the need for “care” of a young puppy but often argue with me when it comes to “quarantine” protection until all the puppy shots are completed. After all, a nice warm sunny day with the whole family in the yard enjoying the puppy is why they purchased the puppy! Usually, by the time a new owner “thinks” the puppy might be “out of sorts” it is too late! PARVO—the #1 killer of puppies in this country What can I do to protect my puppy? Vaccinations, NOT everything is necessary! Our Vaccine & Prophylactic treatment protocol Hopefully, after reading this information and doing research on your own, you will be horrified at the deadly consequences of this disease and realize the need to protect your puppy. Personally, I understand new things and concepts best after they are “related” to something with which I am familiar. I decided to take the long physiological and clinical descriptions of Parvo and break them down, so they are easily understood.

First some facts:

Parvo is not new but was first identified in 1978! It is thought to have originated as a feline virus but has mutated and is highly contagious for dogs. Parvovirus also occurs in mink, fox and raccoons. Today, parvovirus is everywhere and is epidemic in many parts of the US. It is transported by insects, rodents, flies and the wind. No back yard is guaranteed to be free of parvovirus particles and the virus is resistant to extreme environmental conditions and remains viable for up to 6 months or longer. Here is a great disinfectant that works for Parvo and many other bacteria and viruses.

KennelSol 1-Step Kennel Cleaner – EPA Registered Liquid Concentrate Disinfectant and Deodorizer, Effective Against Bacteria and Viruses – 1 Gallon by Alpha Tech Pet

What is it?

I think of Parvo as a “one-two” punch for a puppy. It begins with virus infection and ends with massive bacterial infection of the intestine. There are THREE clinical stages:

STAGE 1 (transmission phase): the virus is ingested or inhaled and accumulates in the lymph nodes where initial viral replication occurs. The oral phase lasts a few days.

STAGE 2 (viremia phase): Massive amounts of newly formed virus particles enter the circulation and are transported though the body infecting many tissues and organs including the intestines and, in the case of pups less than 8 weeks of age, the heart. The viremia phase lasts approximately a week and by which time symptoms are clearly apparent.

STAGE 3 (contagious phase): The virus further replicates in the intestine and billions of the resultant virus particles are passed in the stool into the environment. By stage 3 most infected pups present with vomiting and extreme bloody diarrhea. The intestine is now so compromised that bacterial infection sets in and with the virus/bacteria literally destroying the intestine which may burst, flooding body cavity causing peritonitis. This disease has now gone from a virus infection and enteritis to a “superinfection”, a synergistic infection that is more pathogenic than that of either the virus or the bacteria if they were present alone.


Owners must be extremely vigilant in assessing the possibility of parvovirus infection. Most puppy owners don’t recognize the first symptoms, which are a decrease in activity and appetite. Your first thought may be that the children played with the puppy too long and the puppy is tired and just needs a day of rest. The stool seems normal so there is nothing to worry about. Before long, however, puppy is vomiting and/or having loose stool, although blood may not be apparent in the vomit or stool. Again, most people fail to react and often think that other things are causing the puppy to get upset. Sadly, Stage 3 follows, and young puppies are usually beyond help at this point. Again, shortly after infection puppies start showing signs and may be dead within a week.


The how's of Parvo infection

First, let’s examine “how” a puppy gets Parvo. Parvovirus is transmitted by direct or indirect exposure to contaminated fecal material from another infected dog. Now comes the scary part. You can expose puppy without realizing it! The first time may be when you visit the vet office. Think about it. The vet office is full of sick dogs/puppies and may include dogs with Parvo! Or a Parvo infected dog may have preceded you in the vet office. Consider a puppy that IS infected with Parvo.

A Parvo sick puppy has severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. As many as 30 billion Parvoirus particles can be shed from the intestines of an infected dog/puppy in every ounce of stool.

Imagine the panic and fear in the owner of this puppy. The mess, quickly wiped up with a paper towel, the puppy put outside with the diarrhea so that mess is not in the house, and finally, taking the sick pup to the vet. Over the years my vet has shared many stories with me. The saddest are about “ill-informed” owners of Parvo sick puppies. They arrive at the vet clinic with a puppy, set it down on the floor (so pup won’t throw up on them) and wait. Usually, they have NO idea what is wrong with their puppy. The puppy is sick on the floor and soon it is discovered why. The clinic is closed down for hours while disinfecting is done.


Another common “how” involves the friends of your children who want to come and play with the new puppy. You have NO idea where those children have been, what pets they have or what dogs they may have handled they are handling your puppy. What if you decide to take the puppy outside BEFORE the shot series is completed? This is the most common “how” that people share with me. Usually, they are writing to report how quickly the puppy is settling in and becoming housetrained! Everyone is taking a turn going outside with puppy and waiting until “potty” is accomplished.

When I remind these owners about the “rules”, they happily tell me that they are only taking puppy to their back yard and that all the neighbor dogs have had their shots! Stop and think about that! The neighbor dogs are covered against Parvo BECAUSE they have had all their shots BUT what about your puppy? What does any dog do when outside? It goes along the ground smelling where it last went potty or where another dog has eliminated. What about the famous “meet and greet” that dogs do? The virus can be easily spread by hands, shoes, clothing or other inanimate objects.


This outside world is also where flies, rodents and the wind can play a role. Flies instantly find dog poo and are all over it potentially spreading parvovirus far and wide. Dried feces and vomit are easily moved around in the wind or on a rodent’s feet. Remember how proud the new puppy owners were that the puppy had gone “poo” in the grass? Do you think that a fly has not noticed that too? When you think of “Parvo” this way, it should be easy to understand why I am so insistent on doing everything I can and telling you what you can do to protect puppy from this deadly disease.

What can the vet do?

The first the vet will tell you is that there is NO guarantee on saving your puppy. A Parvo sick puppy will quickly be dehydrated from the vomiting and diarrhea. The vet will need to hydrate the puppy with IV fluids, medicate the puppy to stop the vomiting and treat the now present bacterial infection with antibiotics. Vets tell me that if the puppy lasts the week it has a good chance of survival! That week may cost as much as $2000 in vet expenses! My experience supports the one-week hypothesis.

What can the new owner do?

Now that you have an understanding of the insidious nature of this disease, you will be able to better protect your pup. Washing hands before playing, changing clothes if you have been in contact with another dog, avoiding dog parks and other areas where you may contact and bring this disease home on your feet. Think about it. These are the types of precautions that we take protect ourselves from disease. Put your puppy in the same category as your baby or your grandmother. A baby and the elderly person have a hard time fighting off infection. If they get a cold, it may quickly become pneumonia, whereas someone in mid-life and good health has the immune system to keep a cold from getting serious. With a puppy it is the same. We are trying to develop the immune system to resist disease. HOW do we accomplish this? In large part by keeping stress it to a minimum. Again, stress is caused by over-handling, too much activity and not enough sleep or quiet time.

Understanding Parvo and Parvo Vaccination

The puppy initially obtains immunity from its mother’s milk during the first day of feeding. BUT how long does this protection last? The half-life of maternal immunity is about 10 days. That is, every ten days the immunity is halved. After a certain period, the puppy must be vaccinated for immune protection. It was long thought that a core series of four vaccinations beginning at 6 weeks of age, with follow up shots at 8, 12 and 16 weeks was sufficient to provide optimal immunity. Breeders typically send a puppy home with its new owners with the additional shots given subsequently. But then Parvo became an epidemic. The chances of exposure are so high it is nearly impossible to avoid any puppy from coming in contact with it EVEN when the best home care is in place.


NO room for “being squeamish”! If I am going to protect this puppy I can’t let this cute face and small size affect my shots protocol.


NEVER ASSUME that because you keep a clean house…because you live in a gated community… because your friends’ or neighbors’ dogs have had all their shots…


the ONLY way your puppy is safe is if the puppy is ONLY handled by residents of the house, puppy NEVER goes into the back yard, puppy MUST be in a crate on your lap when going to the vet for follow up shots.  Take your own towel for the puppy to stand on when they are on the exam table.  Everyone in the vet’s office should have gloves on when handling your puppy.

vet offices are FULL of germs and most of them have been treating PARVO infected pups at some point during the week!

We got Parvo From a Vet Office!

Our Vaccine & Prophylactic Treatment Protocol

Excerpts from Dr. Jean Dodd’s recent publication entitled: NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY

“Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months of age. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age it produces lifetime immunity for the pet. If another MLV is given one year later the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little to no effect. The titer is not “boosted” nor are more memory cells induced. Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-medicated haemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines”.

Prophylactic Treatments used as Preventatives

COCCIDIOSIS: WHAT IS IT? Coccidiosis is caused by an opportunistic protozoan and results in diarrhea. Although puppies are often infected with Coccidia, initially and from their mother’s feces, infection is usually asymptomatic, unless the puppy becomes overstressed. Most puppies are never physically affected by this protozoan. Occasionally, however, puppies may be stressed when they are weaned and/or when they go to their new homes. OVER-handling by new owners, can also bring about sufficient stress to cause coccidiosis.  OURCHOICE of a PROPHYLAXSIS is Baycox (Toltrazuril) research shows it eliminates coccidia. EAR MITES: WHAT ARE THEY? Ear mites are more common in long floppy eared dogs. My vet laughs and says, “Schnauzers naturally have dirty ears”! The ear mites thrive in the warm moist area where the air flow is restricted. Ear mites feed on epidermal debris & ear wax. They burrow into the ear, causing inflammation which the body responds to by producing more wax. Characterized by dark reddish brown or black debris in the ear canal; resembling coffee grounds. Dogs pass them around. OUR CHOICE for PROPHYLAXSIS is Revolution.  This is a flea and tick product that also works well for ear mites.   Be sure to tell your vet that your puppy has already been treated with this product.  Refer to the date on the vaccination record attached. For LONG term care, you should put the puppy on REVOLUTION by Pfizer. This product is superior to anything on the market and unlike other market “flea products” it is the ONLY one that eliminates skin and ear mites. You will find complete ordering information on the site. FACTS ABOUT WORMING—I suggest multiple worming before age ONE, consistent routine worming throughout the dogs’ life.  REMEMBER, your pet will re-infest while meeting another dog (and you know how dogs greet each other!), sniffing feces left from another animal, sniffing the ground.


Worm eggs can live in soil for several months. Adults/children playing or digging in soil/sand can and do transmit the eggs orally. Thorough cleaning of the area that pets use for potty and washing hands thoroughly whenever you have worked in the soil will prevent contamination.


Hookworms: appear as small white or red dish-brown segments less than an inch long. These worms “hook” onto a pet’s intestinal lining and feed on their blood. They release eggs into the intestine, which are then passed through the feces. Hookworms cause blood loss, which can be fatal to puppies.

Roundworms: almost all puppies are born with round worms. They are exposed through the mother’s milk or contaminated soil. White or yellow-white stands approximately 2-7″ long (like strings of spaghetti) can be observed in vomit or feces. Tell-tale sign of roundworms is rough coat, bloated belly, diarrhea and vomiting, but most infections are not apparent.

Tapeworms: seen most often in freshly passed stools; segments are white or pinkish-white and resemble grains of rice. Normally harmless, but annoying. Two types affect dogs in the US–the flea tapeworm is the most common. Be sure to protect your dog through the “flea season”. The other type involves the dog biting into a hose animal such as a rabbit, mouse, squirrel etc.


You will note on the HEALTH RECORD that worming began at age 6 weeks. This is easily kept up by the owner. Many brands of wormers are available at various prices at pet stores. Select a wormer that treats multiple types of worms. Carefully follow the instructions on the box. Worming your pet is simple.


The easiest and most inexpensive, all-around, deworming treatment available is fenbendazole (Safe-Guard, Panacur). It is virtually 100% effective against all four types of canine intestinal worms.

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