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What is Parvovirus?
What is Parvovirus? Sick dog.

Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral infection that can be lethal to dogs.

Parvo still continues to be a common illness that kills many puppies. Despite safe and effective modern vaccines, puppies still have several days or weeks when they may be at risk of infection.


What are the symptoms of parvovirus?

  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea, often containing blood.
  • The feces have a telltale odour.
  • The dog will be lethargic and feverish, have abdominal pain, and may refuse to eat.
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances will result from the loss of body fluids, and hypoglycemia


Many adult dogs who come in contact with the virus will show few, if any symptoms, but may become carriers of the disease. It is unusual for an adult dog who is current on their parvo vaccine and yearly boosters to contract the disease.

Diagnosis by a Vet

Diagnosis is made by the dog’s age (usually less than six months), a physical exam and the symptoms present.

Parvo symptoms resemble other diseases and are often misdiagnosed. Canine parvovirus is positively diagnosed through a lab test of the sick dog’s blood or feces. A dog showing signs of severe or bloody diarrhea and vomiting should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Early treatment is vital to the dog’s recovery.

How do dogs get Parvovirus?
The virus is eliminated in the dog’s feces and is transmitted when another dog orally contacts the virus.

How long does parvovirus last?

Parvo is hardy, resistant to high heat or freezing temperatures, and will live in the environment for 6 months. It will live on inanimate objects and can be brought into a home or yard on shoes, clothing, hands, visiting pets, or car. It may also be transmitted by rodents and insects. Household bleach is the only chemical that is able to deactivate the virus.

Dogs with weakened immune systems or intestinal parasites are especially susceptible to intestinal system damage.

How will a Vet treat a dog with parvo?

The incubation period of the virus is seven to ten days, and the dog will begin excreting the virus in their feces three days after exposure.

Dogs suffering from Parvo should be isolated from other dogs and their quarters should be cleaned with a bleach solution of one-half cup bleach to a gallon of water. Any gowns or gloves used should be disposed of and shoes should be cleaned with the bleach solution. Treatment consists of replacing the fluids lost through vomiting and dehydration.

Severe cases will be given an electrolyte solution intravenously, and milder cases may be given subcutaneous or oral fluids. Antibiotic therapy may be given to treat secondary bacterial infections, and drugs to control vomiting may be administered. If vomiting continues despite the drug treatment, blood transfusions may be needed to avoid an anemic condition.

Can a dog with parvo survive?
Prompt professional veterinary care is necessary; home treatment of canine parvovirus is very difficult and does not have a good prognosis. Any other dog in the household should be current on its parvo vaccine and kept away from the sick pet and any contaminated areas.

How can I prevent my pet from getting parvovirus?

Avoid exposing your puppy to other dogs or their feces, or places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks and kennels, until the series of vaccinations is complete, and have the puppy examined by a vet at the first sign of symptoms so that prompt, lifesaving treatment may begin if necessary.

Vaccinations are usually given in a series to lessen the puppy’s risk of infection during this window of susceptibility.

Puppies less than six months old are the majority of parvo cases. Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and other black and tan breeds seem to be more susceptible to the virus.

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