If you're thinking of adopting a puppy, parvovirus is something that you need to be familiar with. If you haven't heard of parvo, what you need to know is that it's highly infectious, it comes in two forms (intestinal and cardiac), and there's no cure for it. Symptoms of intestinal parvo include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Cardiac parvo often presents with no symptoms, but it can have symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and fever. While some dogs do recover with medications and IV fluids, many dogs who contract the disease will die from it. The virus can affect dogs of any age, but puppies are especially at risk, particularly if the puppy has been taken away from its mother too early. Take a look at some of the most important things you can do to protect your puppy from parvo.

Use A Carrier or Keep Your Puppy in Your Lap At the Vet

It's a common misconception that parvo is airborne. It's not – the virus is passed through contact. The thing is, parvo is a very hardy virus that can live a long time on many surfaces, which means that your dog can pick it up just by touching something that an infected dog touched.

That means that at the veterinarian's office, as well as other places where sick dogs may have been recently, like the pet store, the groomer's, and the dog park, are all possible hazards for your puppy. You can simply avoid taking your puppy to the groomer's, the pet store, or the park until they're old enough to be vaccinated, but you can't avoid the veterinarian's office. So your best bet is to keep your puppy on your lap when you're in the waiting room at the vet's office, or keep them in a carrier. That way, you can be sure they won't pick up any germs from the floor.

Disinfect Your Home If A Previous Pet Had Parvo

If you're adopting a puppy for the first time, and you've lived in your home for some time, there's probably no reason to worry about parvo at home. But if you previously owned a dog who contracted parvo – or if you suspect that your last dog might have died from parvo – then you'll want to be sure that your home is free of the virus before you bring home a new puppy.

Parvo can live on surfaces inside of your house, as well as in your yard. Even freezing temperatures won't kill the virus – instead, cold weather can preserve it. The virus can also remain in the environment for as long as seven months. What does effectively kill parvo is bleach. To disinfect your yard, remove all feces from the yard and use a solution of one part bleach diluted in 30 parts water. Keep in mind that bleach will kill grass and plants. Inside the house, use ¾ cup of bleach diluted in a gallon of water to disinfect surfaces. The bleach should remain on the surface you're disinfecting for at least 10 minutes. Bowls, bedding, and toys that have come in contact with a parvo-infected dog should be thrown out.

Vaccinate Your Pet

The importance of making sure that your pet is vaccinated against parvo as soon as they're old enough can't be understated. While the vaccine can't completely guarantee that your pet will never contract parvo, it does greatly reduce the chances. A vaccinated dog may also be more likely to survive parvo if they do contract it. The parvovirus vaccine is highly effective, with minimal risk of side effects, so it's well worth getting to protect your pet.

Your puppy should normally receive parvovirus vaccinations at 6, 9, 12, and 15 weeks of age. This is usually administered in a combination shot, which also contains vaccinations for adenovirus cough and hepatitis, distemper, and parainfluenza. If your puppy is at increased risk for parvo, your vet might administer a separate vaccination for parvo only as early as 5 weeks. After the 15-week vaccination, your pet should receive a yearly booster.

Parvo can be frightening for puppy owners, but it is preventable. Take steps to keep your environment free of parvo, keep your pet out of areas that could possibly expose them until they're vaccinated, and follow the vaccination schedule your vet recommends, and your puppy should remain safe and healthy. To learn more about vaccinating your puppy, check out a site like http://www.marcumroadvet.com.