Parvovirus Cleaning in the Home Environment
Parvovirus is short for the medical term parvoviral enteritis. Canine parvovirus is one of the most feared diseases that can hit dogs of any age if they have contact with contaminated feces or visit a place that an infected dog has visited. This disease is dog specific and does not infect children or other animals. Clinics see hundreds of cases each year, making parvo one of the most common diseases that dogs can obtain. Read about the history of canine parvovirus here.
The most susceptible to parvo are young puppies that have not had their full round of booster shots. Adult dogs that are over one year of age and vaccinated have a very low chance of catching the virus but may develop a mild illness and shed the virus for a short period of time. Any dog that becomes infected with canine parvovirus could be in a fight for their life once symptoms start to appear.
Early recognition and treatment is key for a successful treatment plan which will likely include medicine to prevent vomiting, hydration therapy, and tube feeding. Symptoms of this dangerous disease include but is not limited to vomiting, diarrhea with blood, lack of appetite, lethargy, and life-threatening dehydration.
Vaccination at the right times remain the best way to prevent this disease, along with preventing access to high traffic areas until they have had all their shots. You will want to disinfect everything completely before bringing home any dog if your house is infected with canine parvovirus. All of your dog’s belongings will need to be disinfected or pitched if they cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected.
First you need to understand that this virus is shed in high numbers by infected dogs into the environment so it presents a large threat to other dogs. Parvovirus is commonly accepted to live up to 5 years in most environments. There is a period of time between exposure and the dog showing symptoms which is referred to as the incubation period. The time varies from dog to dog, but it takes about 5 to 12 days for a dog to show symptoms once infected with this virus.
Disinfecting Against Parvovirus
There are multiple methods that you can use to disinfect against canine parvovirus in your house which vary in costs, safety, time, and effectiveness. You will want to research each disinfectant before you commit to using it as you want to get everything cleaned the right way, the first time.
Canine parovivirus can be disinfected by several disinfectants which include bleach, Trifectant, Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, and pool shock. Pinesol, ammonia, quaternary ammonium based disinfectants, and house based cleaners do not disinfect against parvovirus reliably and may actually help spread it.
The cheapest disinfectant to use would be bleach. Bleach is diluted by mixing 4 ounces of bleach per gallon of cold water. You can make a spray or a tote mixed with the solution. Anything dunked into the tote or sprayed with bleach must be allowed to sit for 10 full minutes before rising the bleach off. Prior to soaking or spraying the item with bleach, you will want to make sure you pre-clean the item with dish soap to remove any feces as most disinfectants require that an item is visually clean to work. The dish soap must be rinsed off with water prior to the actual disinfectant being applied.
Trifectant and Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide are commercially bought disinfectants and work much the same way. The difference is that they come with mixing instructions, a material safety data sheet, and they generally work better than bleach. Trifectant and Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide are safer, better smelling, dilute better, and have greater strength when used on bedding and dirty items when you compare them to bleach.
Both Trifectant and Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide are rapid acting which mean that most of the virus is killed within the first 3-5 minutes. Commercial disinfectants are more expensive but may well be worth knowing the environment was disinfected well.
While there is no product available for carpets that is completely safe, there is some ways to reduce the number of virus particles in the carpet. You can do a thorough shampooing or steam cleaning several times then waiting at least 6 to 8 weeks before bringing in any new dog. Most of the time Trifectant will work on carpeting without any problems. However, it is recommended that you test a small portion of carpet before using it for this purpose.
You may also spray your yard with disinfectant if you desire to do so. I would mix 5 gallons of water with 24 ounces of bleach then power spray your yard. Please note that bleach will kill any and all plants, grass, or flowers. Trifectant may be used in a power sprayer which is much less likely to kill your plants or flowers. No guarantees can be made regarding which disinfectant will not kill flowers, plants, or grass.
It is also important to know that parvovirus can be spread by your shoes and on your clothing. You will have to spray and disinfect your shoes along with laundering your clothing to prevent contamination. It is also ill advised to go over to any friend’s houses that have dogs until you have done a complete disinfection of your house.
Post-Care for Parvo Infected Houses
You will want to wait about 30 to 45 days from the day your dog got sick to bringing in any other dogs. A dog recovering from parvovirus may still spread the virus for a while after recovery.
While it is somewhat safe to bring in a new puppy after 3 to 4 months post disinfection, it is highly advised to have the puppy in a safe room until all shots are completed. The best safe room would be where the parvo infection load is present in the lowest numbers.
Most dogs that recover from parvovirus develop a very powerful immunity to parvovirus and will likely never obtain this disease again. However, you still need to vaccinate him against other diseases he may catch such as distemper. It is recommended that vaccines be given 3 weeks post treatment for protection against the other diseases he can catch.
Puppies receive 2-3 booster shots after the initial vaccination which is typically given around 8 weeks old. The booster shots are given 3-4 weeks apart, with the final vaccination being administered around 16 to 20 weeks of age. Afterwards, they will want to have a booster shot every year for ongoing protection. Puppies that are already past 16 weeks of age may receive one vaccination then follow the one booster shot per year schedule.
Vaccination schedules and preventive care plans vary from veterinarian to veterinarian based on your individual pet. The best plan of action is to have your dog examined by the vet so he can determine what medical or preventative work is required.