Distemper, parvo are preventable dog diseases

Dogs are interested in something at the Western Arizona Humane Society-managed Kingman animal shelter.

Dogs are interested in something at the Western Arizona Humane Society-managed Kingman animal shelter.

KINGMAN – There are a couple viral infections that cause major health challenges to animals. You may recently have read about dogs entering the Kingman Western Arizona Humane Society facility with distemper. The unfortunate fact is distemper and parvo, both caused by a virus, can be prevented with regular immunizations. Dogs need not suffer from either disease

Canine distemper is a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye. Unvaccinated puppies and adolescent dogs are most prone to the disease.

Puppies under four months of age should not be taken to public parks until the series of immunizations is complete. The Arizona Humane Society has described it this way: “The canine distemper virus, an extremely contagious, whole body, viral disease, is shed in bodily secretions of infected animals and spread via inhalation.

“Once inhaled, the virus moves to the lymph nodes where it begins reproducing. The virus then spreads to the blood and the cell lining of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital and central nervous system of infected animals.”

There is no cure, but symptoms can be treated to keep the animal comfortable. Chances of survival depend upon the strain of the disease and the strength of the animal’s immune system. In simple words, it’s a nasty disease.

Canine parvovirus (parvo) is a highly contagious viral disease that is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs under 6 months of age. The disease is caused by direct contact with the virus, which can reportedly live on surfaces up to a year. It is also resistant to most cleaners, which makes it difficult to kill the virus. Bleach is the only known effective way to clean surfaces.

According to petmd.com, “Heavy concentrations of the virus are found in an infected dog’s stool, so when a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool, it will contract the disease. The virus can also be brought into a dog’s environment by way of shoes that have come into contact with infected feces.”

Think about it. Just a walk along a beach or in the park can pick up this virus and cause infection with unvaccinated dogs.

It is not known why, but certain dog breeds, such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

There are two types of parvovirus. The cardiac form affects puppies from 6 weeks to 6 months old and affects the heart muscles. This form of parvo is often fatal.

The major symptoms associated with the intestinal form of a canine parvovirus infection include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting and severe weight loss. A major concern is the loss of bodily fluids, which can cause dehydration.

Unvaccinated dogs housed in the close quarters of breeding kennels and shelters are very susceptible to viral infections. That’s one reason immunizations should be current. The Western Arizona Humane Society has stringent protocols for cleaning and begins administering immunizations as soon as an animal is turned over to the intake facility. Two vaccination clinics are held annually as a community service. These events provide low-cost immunizations for anyone needing the rabies or DAP boosters. Protect your animals with these important immunizations.


The Western Arizona Humane Society, 1100 Empire Dr., is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with kennel hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 855-5083 for details.