Dear Porky & Buddy,
My next door neighbor came home with a new puppy a few weeks ago that she had gotten from a “free to good home” ad.
I use the word “free” advisedly because a week after the puppy arrived he was at the veterinary hospital with parvo and almost didn’t make it. Now $2,300 later, he is home and I guess OK, but should I be worried?
My kids were playing with him and I have my own (fully vaccinated) dog.
Ah, the horrors of “free to good home” adoptions.
Many humane societies and rescue organizations are happy to take unwanted litters of puppies, keep them isolated until their health status can be verified, and then find them good safe homes.
That puppy was lucky that he ended up with someone who could afford the care he needed.
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening, especially for puppies. It can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces.
The virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors.
Because of this, you will want to take extra care if the puppy was in your house or yard. Some things are easier to clean and disinfect than others — and even with excellent cleaning, parvovirus can be difficult to eradicate.
Parvo is resistant to many typical disinfectants. A solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water can be used where organic material is not present. The infected dog’s toys, food dish and water bowl should be properly cleaned and then disinfected with this solution for 10 minutes.
If not disinfected, these articles should be discarded. You can also use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you’ve walked through an infected area. Areas that are harder to clean (grassy areas, carpeting and wood, for example) may need to be sprayed with disinfectant, or even resurfaced if there is any chance that a susceptible dog will be in that area.
The general symptoms of parvo are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.
Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. (Thank goodness, it cannot be transmitted to people.)
But if you ever notice your dog experiencing severe vomiting, loss of appetite, depression or bloody diarrhea, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Even if your dog is protected from parvo, those are serious symptoms.
The most important thing for pet owners to remember is that you can protect your dog from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations, and because you have done that you should be OK.
Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. Consult with your veterinarian about how often your dog will need to be revaccinated.
As your friend found out the hard way, dogs infected with parvovirus need intensive treatment in a veterinary hospital, where they receive antibiotics, drugs to control the vomiting, intravenous fluids and other supportive therapies.
This can result in considerable expense — the average hospital stay is about 5-7 days. Sadly, treatment is not only expensive, it is not always successful — so it’s especially important for everyone to make sure their dogs are vaccinated.
For a safe adoption, see the Oswego County Humane Society’ pets online at www.oswegohumane.org.
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Phone is 207-1070. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org Check out our website at www.oswegohumane.org