Buddy & Porky’s Pet Health: The “Free” Puppy

Dear Porky & Buddy,

My next door neighbor came home with a new puppy a few weeks ago that she had gotten from a free to good home ad. I use the word “free” advisedly because a week after the puppy arrived he was at the veterinary hospital with parvo and almost didn’t make it. Now $2300 later, he is home and I guess ok, but should I be worried? My kids were playing with him and I have my own (fully vaccinated) dog.


Dear Jen,

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening. It can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. The virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors.

Because of this, you will want to take extra care if the puppy was in your house or yard. Some things are easier to clean and disinfect than others—and even with excellent cleaning, parvovirus can be difficult to eradicate. Parvo is resistant to many typical disinfectants. A solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water can be used where organic material is not present. The infected dog’s toys, food dish and water bowl should be properly cleaned and then disinfected with this solution for 10 minutes. If not disinfected, these articles should be discarded. You can also use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you’ve walked through an infected area. Areas that are harder to clean (grassy areas, carpeting and wood, for example) may need to be sprayed with disinfectant, or even resurfaced if there is any chance that a susceptible dog will be in that area.

The general symptoms of parvo are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration. Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. (Thank goodness, it cannot be transmitted to people.) But if you ever notice your dog experiencing severe vomiting, loss of appetite, depression or bloody diarrhea, contact your veterinarian immediately. Even if your dog is protected from parvo, those are serious symptoms.

The most important thing for pet owners to remember is that you can protect your dog from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations, and because you have done that you should be ok. Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. Consult with your veterinarian about how often your dog will need to be revaccinated.

As your friend found out the hard way, dogs infected with parvovirus need intensive treatment in a veterinary hospital, where they receive antibiotics, drugs to control the vomiting, intravenous fluids and other supportive therapies. This can result in considerable expense—the average hospital stay is about 5-7 days. Sadly, treatment is not only expensive, it is not always successful—so at the risk of repeating ourselves, it is REALLY REALLY important to make sure your dog is vaccinated.

On a happier note, avoid the problems of free to good home ads and do a good deed at the Oswego County Humane Society’s “Pay It Forward” adoption day on Saturday, March 13th from 11 to 2 pm at the Tractor Supply Company on Rt. 104 East, in Oswego. There will be kittens, cats and dogs for adoption, and the adoption fees for older pets will be reduced. Remember, every time a homeless pet is adopted another one can be rescued!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets. Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter

1 Comment

  1. Dear Porky and Buddy,

    My 8 year old cat won’t mouse anymore. I don’t understand why. She has always seemed to enjoy chasing and catching and eating mice but today she just ignored one that was right in front of her. We live in the country and rely upon her to keep the mice out of our home but for the last few months she has lost all interest. I’m not sure what to do. What is the problem?


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