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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Infection control

Dear Think Tank,

I've heard a rumour that there's been an outbreak of parvo locally. I have a very elderly small dog and I've not boosted her as she really is just pottering in the garden these days as she's happier where she knows now her sight and hearing are quite poor.

I'm aware you can walk diseases in on your feet, what can I use to cut down the risks of walking it in?

Many thanks,

Jo Rayner, by email 

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

As you intimate in your question, the best form of protection against parvovirus is vaccination. I can quite understand why you have not kept your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date, although I do hope you are still having her regularly examined by your veterinary surgeon so that any problems can be detected at as early a stage as possible.

It does, however, leave her vulnerable to contracting parvovirus even if she does not leave your garden. Parvovirus is highly resistant in the environment. Rumours can be unfounded but if you have any inkling of this rumour being credible then I think I would keep your dog confined to barracks, at home and in your garden. For yourself, I would limit the contact you have with dogs, and avoid going where dogs are walked because it can indeed be carried inadvertently by shoes and clothing. 

Parvovirus can be shed in the faeces of asymptomatic dog so you could be totally unaware of having been in contact with an infected dog. Removing shoes and outer clothing before walking into the house would be a sensible precaution. You could potentially set up a footbath at all the entrances to your home for you and your visitors to dip their shoes because, fortunately, there are disinfectants which will deactivate parvovirus.

I do hope this helps to reassure you. Please contact your veterinary practice for further advice should you have any more questions, and for an update on the situation in your area.


  1. Dear Jo

    You could give her homoeopathic nosodes for parvo - you can get these from Ainsworth's homoeopathic pharmacy (if you ring them they're always very helpful) or from a homoeopathic vet if really worried, you could keep a bottle of Parvaid, a herbal product sold by Grandma Loves the Dog: - there is a full description on the website re: how it works and when to use it. My feeling is that elderly dogs are usually immune, and even safer if not going out on walks, but I do keep my old boy "boosted" by giving him homoeopathic nosodes (in fact he's only ever had these, as he suffered vaccine damage as a puppy).

  2. Rosie says,

    Sue, a friend of mine had a lovely elderly Border Terrier who was unvaccinated against parvo as she rarely went out and it was assumed she would be immune. Some other friends bought a puppy from a breeder and visited her home. Sadly, Sue's dog became ill shortly afterwards and died. It turned out to be parvovirus that caused her death and it was subsequently discovered that the breeder's kennels had an outbreak of parvo. The puppy was absolutely fine, I assume she had protection from her mother's vaccination. I would be very careful if you think there's an outbreak locally and follow Alison's advice on disinfection.