April 28, 2017 2:11 pm
Updated: April 28, 2017 2:46 pm

What is canine parvovirus and how can it hurt my dog?

WATCH: Veterinarian Dr. Julie Schell joins Global Calgary to explain what canine parvovirus is and what the common symptoms are.


The Calgary Humane Society remained closed on Friday after two dogs that entered the shelter on Monday tested positive for canine parvovirus.

The two dogs have since been euthanized, and all of the animals at the shelter are being quarantined and monitored for the disease.

READ MORE: Public asked to stay away from Calgary Humane Society due to deadly parvovirus

BELOW: Learn more about parvovirus and the symptoms associated with the disease.

What is canine parvovirus?

According to the Calgary Humane Society website, canine parvovirus (often called “parvo”) is a virus that can cause severe inflammation of the intestines in canines.

“The virus infects cells of the intestine leading to structural changes that prevent dogs from properly absorbing nutrients.”

“Canine parvovirus is a dangerous and extraordinarily contagious virus that spreads easily between unvaccinated dogs.”

WATCH: Phil Fulton explains the parvovirus situation at the Calgary Humane Society.

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The humane society says if not caught early and treated “aggressively” parvovirus infection can be lethal.

“It is one of the most devastating and strong viral particles,” warned Dr. Julie Schell from the Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital. “We call it ‘ubiquitous in the environment,’ meaning it’s everywhere.”

“It’s the most devastating disease I’ve ever seen as a veterinarian … it’s probably as bad as an AIDS virus for a dog.”

What are the symptoms of canine parvovirus?

According to the Calgary Humane Society, symptoms of parvo include severe vomiting and diarrhea, which is often bloody. They say affected dogs will be lethargic and lose their appetite. They may also be dehydrated and have a fever.

“Symptoms of canine parvovirus will typically develop after an incubation period of three to 10 days in infected dogs,” a blog on the humane society website states.

How do I prevent my dog from contracting parvovirus?

Vaccination is the best way to protect your dog from contracting parvo.

Schell suggested vaccinating your puppy as soon as possible, usually around eight weeks old.

“Before then we’ll have the mother vaccinated, usually at the time of breeding,” she explained. “Because she will transfer protection to her puppies – short-term protection – through the mother’s milk.”

What dogs are most at risk of developing a parvovirus infection?

Unvaccinated dogs, puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems.

Can a parvovirus infection be transferred to humans or other pets? 

“Fortunately not,” Schell said. “Humans do not seem to be infected by it. Same thing with other species.”

However, Schell said other canine species can contract the illness, including wolves, foxes and coyotes.

For more details on the temporary closure of the Calgary Humane Society, visit CalgaryHumane.ca.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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