LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Springtime is often a great time to take your new pets outside, but veterinarians are warning that the Parvovirus, mostly found in puppies, is more prevalent this time of year.
Parvo can be life threatening to puppies and young dogs. It attacks the immune system, causing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The virus is transmitted through ingesting infected animal feces.
The earlier an owner vaccinates their puppy, the less of a chance they have to contract parvo. This virus can live anywhere, and educating yourself is the only way to know how to prevent it.
Kendal Hughes of Sterling, lost a puppy to parvo three years ago. It was her first dog, and she had no idea what the virus even was when her puppy started showing signs.
"I just assumed he had been sick and you know, worn out the last few days,"
Hughes said. "He had just got shots… I thought he might have been a little sore and stuff from that."
Jennifer Webb, a veterinarian at the Lawton Veterinary Hospital, says they get around three to four calls a day about potential Parvo infections this time of year.
"Parvo is in the environment all the time," Webb said. "It is everywhere, and because we are a transient community, where we have lots of people in and out of housing, then we have it in lots of places that other people do not have it in."
Webb says the virus can be treated with supportive care and a lot of fluids. However, she says, the best advice she can give dog owners, is to become more aware and take precautions.
"Keep your puppy in your home environment until they're vaccinated," Webb said. "It looks like fun to have a puppy. To play dates, go to the park, or go to the lake with your puppy. But until they're fully vaccinated, they are at risk. And it is everywhere in our environment. And so many puppies come down with it, so I would just keep them at home."
Hughes has since gotten another puppy and she says she's made a point to educate herself about the virus, so it doesn't happen again.
"I try not to let my dogs play with other people's dog toys now, just because you just never know if they've had a previous dog that had it."
Webb says if you have a new puppy, even if you think your puppy has been vaccinated, it's best to take them to a vet, so they can confirm if they are truly fully vaccinated or not.
Webb also says it's important that the puppy has the full two rounds of vaccines past the age of 12 weeks, in order for them to be fully immune.