6 week old pups survived parvo, now what?
My female Australian Cattle Dog who had at the time 5, 4 week old pups, sustained a nasty foot injury and was treated at the vets office. During my visit there, I over heard the girls discussing how they were almost out of Parvo test kits and needed to order more.
Having had experience with this horrible virus before, the thought made me cringe, and stuck in my head. During her recovery, we were required to have her bandages changed every other day at the office to check for infection, in fear of losing the foot! Long story short, The minute I heard her vomiting in the night, my worst fears were confirmed.
She and all the pups had contracted Parvo, as well as my 7 month old girl, and my 2 year old, who had already had the virus as a pup. So this actually leads up to a couple of questions; I was under the impression that they develop an immunity to the virus once they have been exposed, I am thinking this is not so?
And, how long after the symptoms are gone, are the pups contagious? I plan on placing them into new homes, but would never want to infect anyone else! I understand about the environment/bleach/shedding the virus in the stools etc... But I want to be SURE I am not unknowingly spreading it around! Should I have them retested? If so, after how long, I guess is what I am asking.
Thank you, Erin.
I'm sorry you had to deal with this horrible virus, it really is vicious. However, you're lucky that they survived, many many puppies don't. The fact that you were aware of the symptoms and acted so promptly has a lot to do with their survival, you were very proactive which is great.
I'm not a vet, so anything I can advise here is personal opinion or knowledge I've gained over the years. When it comes to your puppys' health always trust your veterinarian and consult them for advice first.
As far as I know, puppies are contagious (ie shedding the virus in their stools) for about 3 - 4 weeks after contracting the virus. However, I would recommend checking with your veterinarian for confirmation on this. However, the virus can live in soil for years, and isn't affected by heat, weather and so on. It can also live on floors, carpets etc. for 6 months or more. It is very difficult to eradicate.
As for the immunity issue. Again, as far as I know, once a pup has recovered from Parvo it will have a lifetime immunity - TO THAT PARTICULAR STRAIN of the virus. In females I believe this is passed on to any puppies she may have, but again I would double-check that with your vet.
The problem is there are many different strains of the Parvovirus (similar to the ever changing strains of flu in humans). Immunity to one strain doesn't help if the dog then encounters a different one.
Recovery from Parvo can be slow to begin with. Some strains affect just the intestines and digestive tract, others have a cardiac component which attacks the heart. It usually takes 7 - 10 days for a puppy to be 'out of the woods' in terms of recovery, but it can take several more weeks for it to regain it's strength, weight etc. During that time the pup needs good nutrition and lots of rest.
I wish you and your pups/dogs, the very best of luck and hope they all recover well. You can read more about Parvo on my Canine Parvovirus page.