Although it didn’t appear in domestic dogs until the mid-1970s, parvovirus quickly established itself as a widespread problem in nearly every environment. Not every exposed dog becomes ill, but if a dog’s immune system is unable to combat the virus, it spreads to the gastrointestinal tract, where it destroys structures critical to the absorption of nutrients. The result is severe diarrhea. Parvovirus isn’t often fatal, but it can cause potentially deadly dehydration or septic shock.
► Recommendations: Ideally, puppies receive their first “parvo” vaccination at 6 weeks and have subsequent injections every three to four weeks up until 14 or 16 weeks of age. Give a booster within one year of that series and again every three years thereafter. Mature dogs can be initially vaccinated with a single dose and then again every three years.