Dogs are some of the coolest creatures on the planet, but as with any biological life form, they are vulnerable to dangerous viruses that live in the environment. One of those viruses your puppy or dog is particularly vulnerable to is Parvo. A virus infects the cells of a host, replicating itself and eventually taking over. Fortunately, there is a pet vaccination for the Parvovirus, and it should be high on your list of priorities where your dog's health is concerned. 

What Is This Disease?

Parvovirus is a dreadful, highly contagious disease that may affect your dog's intestines or heart. Intestinal Parvovirus is more common, but either could be fatal, or at least very difficult and expensive to endure for both you and your pet. With intestinal Parvo, a dog's body fails to absorb nutrients, leading to dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and a slew of other awful symptoms. The cardiac form of this disease most often targets young puppies, even still in the womb, affecting their tiny heart muscles. 

Young or old, Parvo is nothing to mess with. It's not something you want to go through or put your canine friend through.

How Do Dogs Catch Parvo?

Unfortunately, the Parvo virus can transfer from an infected dog's fecal matter to any person, object, or other animal. Young puppies may be exposed prior to getting their shots, and older dogs who've not been vaccinated are very vulnerable. The Parvo disease is robust, surviving in an environment for a year or more when left unchallenged. Ordinary cleaners and household disinfectants will not eradicate the threat of Parvo, making it necessary for you to clean with bleach and as thoroughly as possible. Don't trust anything other than bleach unless it's recommended by your veterinarian.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Dog?

Your puppy is most vulnerable prior to vaccination and should not be left to wander around any place where other dogs freely roam. If you can't be sure his puppy pals have been vaccinated or aren't infected (with anything, not just the Parvovirus), avoid exposing him to others until your vet says it's okay. Have him vaccinated on schedule, and keep him protected even at the vets, by holding him, rather than allowing him to explore the waiting room. If he's squirmy, pop him in a small pet carrier and keep it off the ground.

If you've adopted an older canine and not yet had time to have him vaccinated against this virus, keep him in your own yard and away from all other animals. Not knowing what a dog has been vaccinated against is scary, so depending on where you adopt from and if they have records, proceed immediately to your own vet for helpful advice. Be careful using online ad and other mediums for adoption, too, because people may not be totally honest about their dog's medical history, and Parvo is not something you want to take a chance with.

What Other Vaccinations Does Your Canine Need?

Beyond this dreaded virus, your dog needs other vaccinations as well. Puppies should follow a regular, veterinarian-recommended vaccination schedule, and if you've adopted an older dog, he may need special attention, depending on what shots he's had, if you're aware of that information. Rabies, Lyme disease, influenza and other shots may be needed every year or couple of years. Your vet will explain the core (necessary for all puppies or dogs) and non-core (risk-dependent) vaccinations and how they apply to your individual circumstances. Missing any one of these other shots could be crucial, so be diligent with the vaccination schedule and keep meticulous records so you always know that your precious pup is protected.

Don't take chances with Parvo or any other threat to your dog or puppy, for that matter. Knowledge is power, and it will keep your pet healthy. Know what shots your canine friend needs, when he needs them, and what else you can do to protect him.