Canine parvovirus, which could also be referred to as Parvo in dogs is a highly contagious and deadly disease. Parvovirus is particularly difficult to kill and the virus is programmed to attack the very cells designated to protect the dog’s body from infection.

Older dogs are more immune to parvo than young puppies because of their strong immune system.

Parvo can be prevented and as a dog owner, you have to be familiar with this preventive methods.

This disease can be prevented, so understanding the virology and pathophysiology of this virus is vital. So let’s dig into the symptoms, treatment and prevention of this virus.

Symptoms of Parvo | Diagnosis of Parvo | Treatment of Parvo | Prevention of Parvo | Questions About Parvo

Symptoms Of Parvovirus

It takes approximately 3-7 days after a dog has contacted parvovirus for it to appear ill, During those initial 1-7 days, The dog may look fine, but he/she can infect other dogs with the virus.

Common symptoms of parvo are :

  • Lethargy (Lack of energy)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Severe Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Some cases blood in stool

A Few factors that govern the severity of this disease are;

  • Age at exposure
  • Presence of maternal antibody
  • Size of the virus dose
  • Dog breed

Which Dogs Are Vulnerable To Parvovirus?

All breeds are at risk, but a few breeds that might be predisposed but breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, and Pit Bull terriers, as well as other black and tan colored dogs, may be more vulnerable to parvovirus.

Dogs under six months of age are most likely to contract it. Puppies under 6-8 weeks of age are normally protected by their mother’s genetical immunity, so they are less likely to catch it as well.

How Is Parvovirus Transmitted?

Parvo in dogs is highly transferable and the disease could be spread by any person, animal or object through direct or indirect contact with the feces of an infected dog.

How Is Parvo Diagnosed?

The Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA) test is the most trusted and common method of testing the presence of parvovirus.

The test can be completed within 15 minutes by your veterinarian, a small sample of the dog feces is required for the completion of the ELISA test. Further test could be performed for better diagnosis by your vet.

Parvo Treatment

parvo in dogs
parvo in dogs

Parvo treatment vary, depending on the severity. Your veterinarian does not have a medication that has been proven to kill parvovirus inside your dog but vet hospitalization is necessary to for the treatment of parvovirus, where supportive care is administered.

Several treatments are administered to boost your dog’s immune system to help him win the battle against the virus.

Antibiotics are administered through injection or IV drip to counter those bacterias present.
Dogs with severe parvo generally experience Vomiting and nausea.

To ease their discomfort, veterinarians usually give them an anti emetic.
Intravenous fluids and nutrients are administered a veterinarian to help the dog combat dehydration.

In more severe cases, depending on treatment, puppies can remain ill from 5 days up to 2 weeks.

For a successful treatment of parvo, time is very vital, so earlier the virus is detected and treated, the better the chances for a complete eradication of the disease.

Prevention Of Parvo

The most effective preventive technique is Vaccination, Parvo treatment cost can be expensive (running thousands of dollars) so having your puppy and dog vaccinated is highly recommended.

Vaccination is the primary tool for prevention because the parvovirus is extremely difficult to eliminate, a better alternative is to isolate puppies from unvaccinated pets or parvo-contaminated environments like public shelters until they are 8 weeks of age

Puppies born to mothers vaccinated against parvovirus disease are immune to the virus but as they get older (3-4 months old) they receive vaccinations to create their own immunity to the virus, also dogs who have experienced the disease before are also immune.

The introduction of effective vaccinations has made parvovirus much less of a threat to domesticated dogs and has help reduced the spreading of the virus in recent years.

More questions about Parvo:

Q) Can humans get parvo?
A) A person cannot get the parvo virus from a dog or cat. Parvovirus B19 only infects humans.

Q) Can My Dog Catch Parvo More Than Once ?
A) No.

Q) Where does parvo come from?
A) Parvo is a contagious virus and it mainly affects dogs, and thought to originate in cats.

Q )My Puppy Got His Vaccinations, but He Still Caught Parvo – Why?
A) There could be several reasons to this:

  • The shot(s) the puppy received were given at too young an age.
  • The puppy was severely weakened by hookworm disease
  • The puppy was already incubating or exposed to parvo before the shot was given
  • Will My Other Pets Contract It ?

Parvovirus is everywhere. vulnerable dogs are going to contract it eventually whether or not there was a parvo case within the family. The vaccine is very effective, but unusual events do occur, an expired vaccine accidentally used, a puppy given its vaccines at very tender age. etc

Parvo Neutralization

Due to the fact that Parvo is highly contagious, decontamination of areas where a parvo positive dog has been before is highly recommended.

The degree of decontamination of your home needed will depend on the number of dogs you posses.

Generally, parvovirus does not survive indoors for more than 4 weeks, but cleaning the area thoroughly is strongly advised.

The only known chemical that kills parvo is bleach, It is important to know that other household chemicals will not kill parvovirus.

The bleach should be mixed with water about 70/30 respectively, allow the bleach solution to soak before washing it away.

Chairs and carpets should be properly cleaned. Infected sheets or clothing should be properly secured in a plastic garbage bag before they are disposed or soaked in bleach and properly washed before use.

Quick Summary About Parvo Virus

  • Vaccination is the only prevention
  • The only household cleaner that will destroy the virus is bleach
  • Puppies are most Vulnerable, 80 percent of adult dogs show no symptoms;
  • Dogs that Contract parvo will show symptoms 3-7 days after being exposed
  • Canine parvovirus survival rate: Parvovirus has a survival rate of about 85%, however
  • 15 percent of puppies exposed to it could die.
  • Symptoms include: lethargy, diarrhea (usually bloody), and VomitingThe treatment could be really expensive if not detected early.

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, if your dog shows symptoms of parvovirus, please see you vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.


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