(KLST/KSAN)- Vomiting, diarrhea, and severe weight loss. These are just some of the symptoms of parvo.

Dr. Karen Frembgen with the Knickerbocker Road Animal Hospital said there’s one main symptom that sets parvo apart from other viruses. 

“These puppies are usually very tired. they are very lethargic,” Dr. Frembgen said. “They have no energy whatsoever.”

Dr. Frembgen said there are multiple ways dogs can catch parvo. 

“If the parvo was in the soil, let’s say, and they got it on their paw and they went to go kick that paw they have now ingested that parvo and that’s how they can get it,” Dr. Frembgen said. “Or they can be eating grass outside and they can catch it that way. And some dogs will, unfortunately, eat their own excrement or other dogs’ excrement and that’s another way they can pick it up.” 

She said the most important thing to do is to get your dogs vaccinated. 

“Vaccination is very protective, but they must be vaccinated annually in order to get that and the very young puppies, the ones that are less than 4 months of age,” Dr. Frembgen said. “Even if they are getting their vaccine every 3 weeks like they are supposed to, they are still at risk of catching it until they are fully vaccinated after 4 months of age.” 

She said if your puppy can’t be vaccinated, make sure to avoid bringing them around areas that could have parvo in the soil. 

“Because, unfortunately, parvo can live in the soil for 2 years and it’s pretty difficult to kill, so if you don’t know the history of that soil that you’re about to put that puppy down on, I would not trust it,” Dr. Frembgen said.

She said it’s important to get your dogs vaccinated through a licensed veterinarian.

“I know you can pick up these vaccines at the feed store and give it yourself, but it is not guaranteed by the company to prevent parvo when you do it that way and so having a veterinarian do it will ensure that your pet is going to be protected against parvo,” Dr. Frembgen said.