How Contagious is Parvo?

How Contagious is Parvo?

Q (Question): We had a German wirehaired pointer puppy 15 months ago that died of parvovirus within a week after we got her. We bleached the area she used outside, bleached the carrier, burnt the bedding, and cleaned the carpet and furniture.

Although we have the chance to get another bird dog, we are afraid. Is it safe? This pup is three months old and has had three series of the 7-in-1 puppy shots, and is happy and healthy with her littermates. Just as a little more info, we also have three adult dogs living at the same place, all vaccinated and healthy. --NM

A (Answer): Getting and maintaining a healthy puppy is a major problem for any dog owner and must be handled as a cooperative venture among the new pup owner, the breeder and their veterinarians. While parvo is not caused by parasites, it is important that the pup be as free of intestinal parasites as possible so the gut is healthy and able to ward off the parvovirus. Also, good nutrition is important not only for the growth of the pup, but also for the development of the immune system, again to ward off the parvovirus.

Cleaning and disinfection are OK, but for the most part they are "feel good" exercises. A cup of Clorox to a gallon of water is a good viracidal agent, but it only works on nonporous surfaces free of organic matter. You cannot do much about the yard except let time take care of it. Your older dogs can carry the virus and shed it without showing symptoms, but again, time should take care of that.


I would concentrate more on the pup's immune status. I'm not a believer in these multivalent vaccines that you mentioned. I think they really overload the young dog's immune system, and I like to concentrate on the two diseases that can kill your dog: parvo and distemper.


To accomplish this, I give a distemper/parvo vaccination at six weeks, a parvo booster at nine weeks, a distemper/parvo booster at 12 weeks and, finally, a distemper/parvo booster at 16 weeks of age. Part of the basis for this schedule is that the immune system of the pup is not able to respond to its maximum until 16 weeks of age.


Now that you are looking at a 13-week-old pup, you need a plan that will get it into your house with the best chance of surviving. I would do the following: Have the breeder take the pup into their veterinarian and draw a blood sample to send in to Cornell University's Animal Health Diagnostic Lab for titers on both distemper and parvovirus. This will help clarify the pup's risk level.

Also consider leaving the pup with the breeder until it is vaccinated at 16 weeks, and then give it another 10 days to develop an immune response to the vaccine. I don't like the latter suggestion very well, however, because I feel puppies should go to their new homes when they are seven to eight weeks of age.

The obvious question that this last comment brings is, doesn't such a young pup have even more vulnerability? Probably not. The young pup is protected by the passive immunity it receives from its mother's milk, and this immunity can last up to 10 to 12 weeks of age.


Recommended for You

Why your four-legged youngster need a specific formula Health & Nutrition

Puppy Food for Hunting Breeds

Tony J. Peterson

Why your four-legged youngster need a specific formula

A few common tools will keep your pup clean and comfortable in the field. How-To

Grooming Tips for Gun Dogs

Dave Carty

A few common tools will keep your pup clean and comfortable in the field.

Take advantage of these several little drills each day to keep the bad habits away. Training

Overlooked Training Opportunities for Retrievers

Tom Dokken

Take advantage of these several little drills each day to keep the bad habits away.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 7

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 7

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 7

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

A gun-shy dog is created, not born, and once the damage is done, gun-shyness can prove impossible to cure. Puppies

Introduce Your Pup To Gunfire The Right Way

Gun Dog Online Staff

A gun-shy dog is created, not born, and once the damage is done, gun-shyness can prove...

From the 2019 SHOT Show, here are a several new upland shotguns that caught our attention. Shotguns & Ammo

New Upland Shotguns for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

From the 2019 SHOT Show, here are a several new upland shotguns that caught our attention.

Whether you're building or buying a new dog kennel, following these simple guidelines will ensure a safe and comfy home for your favorite hunting buddy. How-To

How To Build the Perfect Dog Kennel

Jerry Thoms

Whether you're building or buying a new dog kennel, following these simple guidelines will...

See More Stories

More Health & Nutrition

Canine nutrition, supplements, and health-care products designed to keep your gun dog at the top of its game. Health & Nutrition

Performance-Boosting Products for Gun Dogs

Tony J. Peterson - October 04, 2019

Canine nutrition, supplements, and health-care products designed to keep your gun dog at the...

Find out why quality is worth the investment for your pup! Health & Nutrition

Why High-Performance Dog Foods Are Worth The Price

Tony J. Peterson

Find out why quality is worth the investment for your pup!

Follow these tips to make sure you keep your dog hydrated and healthy during long hours of hunting! Health & Nutrition

How to Keep Your Gun Dog Healthy and Fit

Tracy Breen - September 20, 2018

Follow these tips to make sure you keep your dog hydrated and healthy during long hours of...

See More Health & Nutrition

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.