In just the past month, Denver Animal Shelter has seen more than 50 cases of parvovirus in stray and owner surrender dogs coming into the shelter. Canine parvovirus (parvo) is severely contagious, preventable virus that is often fatal in young dogs. To help prevent the spread of this deadly virus, Denver Animal Shelter will be offering free parvovirus vaccinations for dogs 1 year and under on a walk-in basis from August 3–31.
What is Parvovirus?
Parvovirus is a virus that attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal tracts. Puppies are most at-risk for contracting parvo, but all dogs can be affected. The virus is transmitted through the feces and vomit of infected dogs and puppies. The virus can live in feces for about two weeks and can exist in the environment (floors, surfaces, etc.) for many months. Because it is so difficult to kill, the virus is easily transmitted by “fomites” such as the hands, clothing, or shoes of anyone who comes in contact with it. Some common symptoms include:
· Loss of appetite
· Severe diarrhea (usually bloody and/or foul smelling)
The severe vomiting and diarrhea in dogs often causes extreme dehydration, and can become fatal quickly (within 48 to 72 hours). If you see your dog displaying symptoms of Parvovirus infection, take them to see your veterinarian immediately. The virus can become fatal rapidly and the recovery process can be lengthy and very costly.
Although the virus can attack dogs and puppies of any age, it is most commonly found in dogs under one year old. The highest incidence is seen in puppies 6 to 24 weeks old.
How is Parvovirus Prevented?
Protecting your dog from parvovirus is easy. The best (and only) way to do this is to vaccinate them against the virus and keep them under control; dogs allowed to roam are more likely to come into contact with the virus. Because puppies are the most at-risk, vaccinations are usually recommended at 6 weeks of age, and then need to be boostered at 9, 12, and 16 weeks.
Denver Animal Shelter is located at 1241 W. Bayaud Ave. Free Parvo vaccinations are offered on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p. m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Denver Animal Shelter also offers a reduced fee vaccination clinic every Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. which includes rabies, distemper/parvo, and a 1-year license for just $35.
For more information about the Denver Animal Shelter, visit www.denveranimalshelter.org.