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AHS Vets On Pets: Avoid Parvo and Distemper by Vaccinating Your Pet

Written by: Kimberly Ring
Valerie-Moser_AHSBy Dr. Valerie Moser   As the temperatures begin to increase, so too do the number of parvo and distemper cases we see each day.   These two canine diseases are extremely dangerous and highly contagious, but you can help protect your dog and limit their chances of contracting either ailment through regular vaccinations.   Canine Parvovirus, or parvo, is an often fatal, viral disease in dogs that attacks the intestines. It’s commonly spread via feces of infected dogs and symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, high fever, depression and loss of appetite. These symptoms (vomit, diarrhea, lethargy) can also be signs of the often fatal, whole body distemper virus which can also be spread via feces and inhalation. The distemper virus also presents with respiratory symptoms, such as nasal discharge and cough. It can also cause callusing of nose/foot pads and has the potential for neurological symptoms such as seizures and twitching.   Puppies are most susceptible to the parvo and distemper viruses, therefore, it is imperative that they receive all of their vaccinations beginning at 6 weeks of age with booster shots given every three weeks until the puppy is between 18-20 weeks old. Once the initial series of shots is complete, adult dogs will need their immune system boostered annually to protect against parvo/distemper and other diseases. However, please be sure to consult with your veterinarian to ensure the best vaccination schedule for your pet.   Because parvo and distemper are highly contagious, please be extremely careful when taking your pets to communal areas such as dog parks or other public places with unknown dogs, as infected pets can easily spread the disease to other dogs, which can lead to a community-wide outbreak. Puppies who have not been fully vaccinated should not attend communal areas until they have had all of their booster shots. In addition to puppies, unvaccinated dogs are at high risk for contracting both diseases.   If you suspect your dog has parvo or distemper, it is critical that you take them to a veterinarian immediately and isolate your pet from other dogs within the home. In addition to being quarantined, treatment for parvo includes IV fluids, around the clock monitoring, anti-nausea medications and antibiotics. Pets must often be hospitalized for at least two days or as long as long as a week. If the dog is not treated by a veterinarian, the chances of survival become very grim. Sadly, there is no specific treatment for distemper.   AHS’ two public clinics provide low-cost vaccinations every Friday on a first-come, first-serve basis from 8 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Vaccinations are just $19 each and there is no office visit charge.   If your dogs are not vaccinated, please take advantage of this low-cost service and help protect both your furry friend and the pets in our community.   Don’t put your pet’s life in danger. Please vaccinate.   Dr. Valerie Moser is veterinarian at the Marge Wright Veterinary Clinic. She joined the AHS staff in November 2013 after spending years working at Maricopa County Care & Animal Control, as well as private veterinary practices in Arizona, Kansas and Missouri. Dr. Moser has a passion for reducing pet overpopulation and shelter medicine and is a member of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.
April 20, 2014