FACTS ABOUT PARVO
There has been a lot of hubbub on the news and on the internet lately about parvo. Here are a few facts:
Puppies need to be vaccinated starting at about 8 weeks old, every 3 weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. The reason for this is that mom's antibodies interfere with the vaccine. After 16 weeks, mom's antibodies aren't there anymore, so the vaccine will work in one dose. If the pup presents for his first vaccine over 16 weeks old, he will be protected by one dose of Modified Live parvo vaccine.
Remember that vaccines given by owners may not be as effective as those from your vet. Vaccines at feed stores are often of poor quality, or may not have been stored properly. For the best protection, make sure your puppy is vaccinated on a good schedule by a veterinarian. Puppies less than 16 weeks of age should not be allowed to go to dog parks, etc. where they could be exposed to parvo. Once they have had a shot after 16 weeks, they should be able to play in parvo and not catch it.
Adult dogs only need to be vaccinated for parvo every 3 years, as the initial vaccines probably give lifelong immunity, but we booster them occasionally just to help the ones whose immunity may drop.
As far as the current outbreak, we have not seen any parvo in well vaccinated dogs. Dogs with parvo have very characteristic symptoms. First they stop eating, then they vomit, then they get diarrhea, usually after several days of being sick. If the first symptom is bloody diarrhea, it probably is not parvo.
I am not trying to downplay the importance of any illnesses that other vets are seeing in the area, but merely pointing out that there is no reason for people with healthy, well vaccinated dogs to be worried about parvo.
Please keep your puppies safe, and if your pet is showing signs of illness, bring them to the vet!
Vickie J. Averhoff, DVM