With the ever present risk of parvovirus, also known as parvo, puppy owners have raised concerns over socialisation and its potential risks. While socialisation is particularly important for developing healthy behaviours and interactions into adulthood, it’s important to understand the risks of parvovirus and how you can help your puppy socialise and interact with other dogs in a safe and comfortable environment.

Canine parvovirus is a highly infectious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. Spread through infected faeces, unvaccinated puppies and dogs are susceptible to contracting the potentially life-threatening virus.

Learn more about why puppy socialisation matters and how you can best protect your puppy from parvovirus.

How to Protect Puppies from Parvovirus?

While socialisation is critical in a dog’s development, it’s also important to be aware of the risk of parvovirus. Before your puppy goes on walks outside and interacts with other dogs, it’s important to start the vaccination process. By receiving their first vaccination, puppies begin building up a resistance to parvovirus and can begin to interact with other dogs and explore outdoor environments with greater protection. Once your puppy receives their first vaccination and is examined by a vet, they can begin to attend puppy school, but not socialise with other dogs until after their final vaccination.

By bringing your puppy to a reputable puppy school that requires proof of parvovirus vaccinations, including our Puppy Preschool program, you can be confident that your puppy can socialise and build skills in a safe environment.

Why is Puppy Socialisation Important?

Dogs are intelligent animals with unique personalities and characteristics. Just like humans, puppies and adult dogs are shaped by experiences and interactions. In order for dogs to develop healthy and desirable behaviours, proper socialisation is important. Simple experiences before the age of 16 weeks can greatly impact future behaviour and long-term development. By exposing your puppy to a multitude of scenarios that they’re likely to encounter as an adult, you can help your puppy develop healthy and confident responses that shape them into friendly and sociable dogs.

What Age is My Puppy Safe from Parvo?

Your puppy can always be susceptible to parvovirus, even after vaccination, however vaccination greatly reduces the risk of this disease. At Vetwest, we recommend that puppies receive their first vaccinations between 6 to 8 weeks. Puppies then need another vaccination at 10 weeks old. Offering an early finish vaccine, your puppy can be taken out in public spaces 2 weeks after their 10-week vaccination. While your puppy goes through a vaccination process while they’re young, annual boosters are required for life to keep your puppy healthy and safe.

Though your puppy may be fully vaccinated, it’s wise to deter them from smelling the faeces of other dogs or animals to limit potential contact with materials that may be contaminated by parvovirus.

First Symptoms of Parvo in Puppies

Early symptoms of parvo in puppies should be treated with immediate action and attention. The best parvo treatments are administered as soon as symptoms are detected, giving your vet and your puppy the best chance to fight off the virus. Though treatments are available, parvo is sometimes fatal in young puppies. Symptoms include:

  • A sudden onset of diarrhoea, often bloody
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite or unwillingness to eat
  • Repeated vomiting

It’s important to remember that many dogs won’t show all signs of parvo. If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s best to bring your dog in for a check-up.

Learn more about the parvovirus in dogs and how to keep your pet protected.

Puppy Vaccinations

When you adopt a puppy, your vet will guide you through the vaccination process. Essential for keeping them safe, vaccinations allow your puppy to explore, grow and learn with maximum safety and protection. Vaccinations against a variety of canine diseases occur at 6 to 8 weeks and 10 weeks, providing them with the support and protection required to explore with confidence.

Check out the comprehensive puppy care guide as well as how important it is to get your puppy vaccinated.

How Can I Socialise My Puppy Without Risking Parvovirus?

Parvovirus can be life-threatening for young dogs. If your puppy is yet to have their first vaccination, it’s important to keep them away from other dogs and out of public places in order to minimise exposure to the virus. Play with your puppy indoors and incorporate toys and games to keep them engaged. After their first vaccination take them on car trips, meet new friends and family and even bring them to meet a fully vaccinated dog in a safe, uncontaminated and contained environment. If your puppy is meeting another dog, make sure that an unvaccinated dog or a dog with parvo hasn’t been in the environment before and if unsure keep them off the ground by holding them. Once your puppy receives their first vaccination, you’re able to bring them along to puppy school.

Puppy Preschool

Providing a safe and stimulating environment for your puppy to learn and develop, our Puppy Preschool gives your puppy the opportunity to grow into a sociable and well-behaved dog. With a focus on positive reinforcement, we help you develop a strong bond with your dog. Puppy Preschool gives your dog the chance to learn new skills, behaviours and interactions that allow them to become healthy and happy adults.

Requiring all puppies to be vaccinated against parvovirus, learn more about Puppy Preschool at a vet clinic near you.

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