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Parvovirus is preventable if proper vaccinations are given

Veterinary assistant Jessy holds Bo, a puppy who had already been exposed to Parvovirus by the time he entered the shelter. He has since recovered and been adopted into a family.  [Photo Provided]
Veterinary assistant Jessy holds Bo, a puppy who had already been exposed to Parvovirus by the time he entered the shelter. He has since recovered and been adopted into a family. [Photo Provided]

It’s that time of year where hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of puppies are entering animal shelters across the country. It’s no different at Oklahoma City Animal Welfare.

One of the biggest struggles that shelters face is keeping these puppies healthy throughout their stay at the shelter. This is challenging because many of the puppies that come into the shelter are not vaccinated and have been exposed to disease before arriving. The most common disease in puppies that shelters see is Parvovirus.

Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that is usually life threatening, especially when not caught early. The virus affects the immune system attacking the white blood cells. It progresses rapidly, which is one reason that it can become life threatening very quickly. Any dog is capable of contracting the virus, however puppies and unvaccinated young adults are most susceptible.

The most common symptoms are lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The virus is hearty and can live in an environment for months and sometimes years.

The good news is the disease is preventable. Most veterinarians recommend beginning to vaccinate at around 6 to 8 weeks old and then booster every 3 to 4 weeks until about 4 months of age, and then yearly after that. It’s important that you consult with your veterinarian for what they recommend for your pet.

Oklahoma City Animal Welfare vaccinates all incoming dogs 4 weeks and older for parvovirus in an effort to reduce the risk of the spread of this deadly disease.

Recently, a shepherd mix puppy named Bo entered the shelter and had contracted the virus before arriving. The staff quickly fell in love with Bo and knew they had to try and save him.

Previously, when a puppy in the shelter contracted the parvovirus there were very few options other than euthanasia. Treatment could last weeks and usually involved hospitalization. The risk to the other shelter animals was high. Thankfully, due to some newer treatment methods and through donations from caring citizens, the shelter was able to treat Bo. He survived and was able to be placed into a loving new home.

The shelter staff recognizes that treatment is not always an option, but when it’s possible, saving pups like Bo is worth the effort. If you would like to help save other animals like Bo, you can donate online at the shelter’s website www.okc.gov/animalwelfare or in person at 2811 SE 29 St.

 

Jonathan Gary

Jonathan Gary is Oklahoma City Animal Welfare superintendent. He has worked at Oklahoma City Animal Welfare for 18 years, working in all areas of operation leading up to his promotion to superintendent in August 2016. Read more ›

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