Canine Parvovirus, or Parvo for short, is a highly contagious and very dangerous (sometimes fatal) viral illness in dogs and puppies. This virus is transmitted through contact with feces, and can be transmitted through any animal, human, or object that has been in contact with feces.

Puppies, young dogs and any dog who has not been vaccinated is at risk of contracting parvo. Protecting your puppy or dog can literally save their life.

Keep your dog parvo-free with these helpful tips:

1. Vaccinate your dogs

Puppies should receive their first vaccines at 6-8 weeks of age, and boosters at three-week intervals until they reach 16 weeks, and then again when they are a year old. Previously vaccinated adult dogs should get a booster shot ever year. Until your dog is fully vaccinated, follow the other tips below.

2. Stay away from other dogs

If you are sure the other dogs are fully vaccinated, then you do not need to follow this rule, but it is best to keep your puppy away from other dogs until they have received at least their first two vaccinations.

3. Avoid places where unvaccinated dogs could be

You should not bring your puppy to doggie daycare, the pet store, the dog park or other common dog areas since the disease is contracted through feces and this could be anywhere in these places.

4. Carry your puppy in your arms at the vet

You can also have the puppy sit on your lap. There could have been a sick dog at the vet before you, and letting your puppy walk around is asking for trouble.

5. Clean your house thoroughly

Canine parvovirus can live for a year, so it is important that you clean with a bleach solution to kill all traces of the virus if you think your home has been infected. Remember that regular soaps and disinfectants do not kill parvovirus, and the virus can live on all sorts of surfaces, from carpets to food bowls.

6. Change your shoes if you are around other dogs

If your workplace is dog friendly, or your daily walk at work is on a sidewalk through a park that has a lot of dogs, make sure to change your shoes when you get home. Of course, it’s always good practice not to wear your outside shoes in your house!

7. See the vet ASAP if your puppy is lethargic, has diarrhea or is not eating

Parvovirus does not have to be a fatal illness. While it is very serious, it is treatable with early intervention. None of the above symptoms are normal for a puppy, so see your vet immediately if something is amiss. Remember that your puppy may only have one symptom, not all three.

You love your new puppy and you certainly don’t want them to suffer from a devastating illness. Take the necessary precautions – you can’t be too careful – and enlist in a pet insurance plan, just in case something happens, so you won’t be paying out of pocket to help save your pet’s lfe.