About canine parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious & absolutely deadly viral disease that affects dogs, especially puppies.

It`s most common victims are young puppies who have not been fully vaccinated.

Most un-vaccinated puppies who catch Parvo will die without prompt and comprehensive veterinary care. The mortality rate for this virus is high.

BUT here`s the good news:

  • With early detection and immediate veterinary care it is possible for a pup to recover - although there are no guarantees (somewhere between 10% and 15% of puppies still die, even with the best treatment).
  • Afull course of puppy shots can give your pup strong protection andimmunity from Parvo.

In fact, the best protection you can give your new pup is to have him vaccinated according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) recommendations for puppy shots

This is HUGELY important and the number one, very best way, to keep your baby safe.

All the information you need to protect your puppy is on this page!

Please take the time to read it because it could mean the difference between life and death... and I`m not exaggerating!

I have seen Parvo in action, and it`s devastating.

Please do everything you can to make sure your precious pup doesn`t become a victim.

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Every puppy owner needs to be aware of the most common symptoms of a Parvo infection so that they can get immediate veterinary help if their pet shows signs of sickness.

There is no time to `wait-and-see` when it comes to this disease, ever!

Symptoms Of Canine Parvovirus

The most common symptoms of Parvo include:

  • Diarrhea -Severe, watery or bloody diarrhea is the most obvious sign ofparvovirus. This type of diarrhea is difficult to miss as it`sexplosive, foul smelling and frequent. It may be very dark in color,almost black, or thin and watery with visible blood,. Any blood in the diarrhea should be cause for emergency vet attention. There areother, less serious possibilities, but never take a chance on it beingsomething else. Get a diagnosis right away.

  • Vomiting -Severe, repeated vomiting is the second most common symptom of parvo. Ifyour pup vomits over and over again and is unable to even keep waterdown, he`s in danger of becoming dehydrated very quickly. In a youngpuppy the dehydration itself can be serious enough to cause major healthproblems, even death. It`s this total dehydration that is responsiblefor the death of many parvo puppies.

  • Fever - Puppies with canine parvovirus will usually run a fever of 103 - 104F or higher. It may not happen immediately though.

  • Lethargy - Extreme lethargy (tiredness), a total disinterest in their surroundings and complete lack of appetite are all classic symptoms of parvo. Of course, lethargy is often present in other diseases or illnesses, but if it`s coupled with any of the above symptoms, canine parvovirus should be seriously considered.

BUT, you need to know that all of these symptoms can appear in other illnesses as well, and it`s not possible to diagnose Parvo on the basis of symptoms alone.

The only way to know for sure if Canine Parvovirus is what`s making your pup sick is to have your veterinarian run some tests.

A fecal test (when your vet tests a sample of your puppy`s feces for the virus) is often used, and a blood serum test is also available.

Both of these tests can give provide a quick answer, but they can also show `false negatives` (ie no virus shows up in the tested sample).

This type of test can also show a `false positive` if your pup has been vaccinated with the live vaccine within the previous 2 weeks.

So, let your vet know when his last vaccinations were given.

Parvo Virus. Image - Wikimedia Commons License

There`s more than one strain of Parvo, and each one can affect apup differently.

There is a strain that targets the heart and canresult in very sudden death. This is most often seen in very youngpuppies (under 8 weeks old).

First seen in the late 1960`s, scientists and researchers areaware that different strains of Parvo are constantly evolving andemerging.

Recently a new strain (CPV-C2)was discovered in the USA, whichaffects both vaccinated, adult dogs as well as puppies (it also seemsto be able to be transmitted to cats).

Strains which have a cardiac component can cause sudden death by heart attack/heart failure, usually totally unexpectedly, and sometimes in a puppy who seems to be recovering from the initial symptoms.

Canine Parvovirus Transmission

Parvo is transmitted through contact with the feces of an infected/sick dog.

couple walking their dog in the par

Canine Parvovirus is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS, just one stool containsmillions of live virus cells and can infect many dogs/puppies.

The virus can be found in the stools of infected puppies several days before any symptoms show up, and for at least 2 weeks after a puppy has completely recovered.

Obviously if your puppy licks or eats the stools of a pup/dog who has Parvo then he`s going to be infected as well.

This disease is so easily transmitted, and so virulent, that your pup only has to come in contact with a very tiny amount of infected material to get sick.

Video: Puppy suffering from canine Parvovirus

For example if he gets just a little feces on his paws or coat, and then cleans them by licking, he`s going to get sick.

If you get some of the virus on your hands, shoes or clothing and then your pup comes in contact with them, he`s going to get sick.

If he sniffs or licks a dog who`s been infected, chances are he`s going to get sick.

So, in addition to making sure your pup gets all his shots taken care of on time, you need to make sure that Fido doesn`t come in contact with any puppies or dogs who could be sick until he`s fully vaccinated.

That also means keeping him away from any public areas where other dogs might have access (such as parks, playgrounds, highway rest areas, stores, city sidewalks...) and only allowing him to be around older puppies and dogs who are fully vaccinated.

YOU need to be extra careful too. Don`t wear your outdoor shoes inside the house and wash your hands carefully after being in contact with other dogs.

Other animals can unintentionally spread Parvo, and if you live in the country you need to be extra careful about this.

Birds and small mammals can carry the virus on their paws and track it through your yard.

Of course it`s impossible to completely eliminate this kind of risk, but do keep your puppy in a well fenced area that isn`t accessible to wild animals, and don`t allow him to run around an acreage or fields until he`s had all his shots.

If your pup survives Parvo, he remains infectious for at least two weeks after being pronounced fully recovered. It`s very important to keep him isolated at home and away from other pups/dogs for at least two weeks, preferably three during this time.

Canine Parvovirus Treatment

Because Parvo is a virus, it can`t be cured with antibiotics, but antibiotics are used to treat the secondary infections that usually go hand-in-hand with this disease.

The main treatment for canine parvovirus is hospitalization where your pup/dog can get...

  • Rest
  • IV fluids to combat dehydration 
  • IV antibiotics to treat any secondary infections

This is called `supportive care`.

New/additional treatment options......


The anti-viral drug Tamiflu has shown promise when given to puppies/dogs who are showing early symptoms of Parvo.

It`s not a `cure` but given early enough (as soon as possible after onset of symptoms) it can help prevent the virus from multiplying and getting stronger.

Also, if given to pup who have been exposed to Parvo but aren`t showing symptoms yet, it MAY prevent onset, or make it less severe.

If your puppy or dog has been exposed to Parvo, or is diagnosed with it, definitely ask your vet about Tamiflu.

It can`t hurt and it just might help!

Plasma Transfusions

One of the newer, `cutting edge` treatments currently being used (and studied) for Canine Parvovirus is a Plasma transfusion.

Blood plasma is rich in proteins, many of which are great healers. It also boosts blood volume (often lost through dehydration) and increases the white blood cell count (white blood cells fight infection).

Statistics show that around 80% of puppies will die from Parvo if they`re not treated quickly, this type of care is absolutely essential if you want your puppy to have the best possible chance of survival.

It`s vitally important to get the treatment started right away, that`s why any puppy who`s showing sudden onset symptoms of diarrhea and/or vomiting and who seems lethargic or disinterested in food or his surroundings, needs to be seen by a vet IMMEDIATELY.

Even a 24 hour delay wait could cost your precious baby his life.

veterinarian examining beagle pup

Individual puppies can react quite differently to this disease,and although early diagnosis and treatment is vital, it`s not aguarantee of recovery.

The most acute phase of the illness usually lastssomewhere between 7 and 14 days, and if a puppy survives this long hehas a good chance of making a full recovery.

Some puppies can get very, very sick for a fairly long period oftime, but eventually recover.

Others can get sick extremely quickly, anddie just as quickly. Still others can get sick, appear to be improvingand then die unexpectedly.

The lucky ones are very sick for almost 2 weeks and then slowly regain their strength and start on the path back to normal life.

It`s not always the biggest `strongest` puppies that win the battle either, you simply can`t tell by looking.

Because you obviously will want to do whatever it takes to save your precious pet if he gets sick, vet care isn`t an option, it`s an absolute necessity.

But you do need to know that the level of care needed to give a pup a fighting chance is comprehensive and expensive, but it`s his only chance.

Having a pet dog health insurance plan in place can help prevent your credit card from being maxxed out, or your savings account from being decimated if your little one gets sick.

I don`t say any of this as `scare tactics`, the urgency of the situation is very real.

I`ve experienced first-hand the devastating speed with which this disease strikes, and the horrendous and heartbreaking outcome that can result even with the best of care. Sadly the cardiac component can still kill a puppy who has been diagnosed and treated quickly, but this is thankfully much more rare than the intestinal strain of Parvo.

Rottweilers are `my` breed and I have also have a website devoted to them. On that site there is a story submitted by a Rottweiler owner chronicling her puppy`s fight (and eventual recovery) from Parvo.

It`s a story I think every puppy owner should read - regardless of their puppy`s breed - as it shows the grim reality of the disease.

You can check it out here....

Angelika`s Story

The earlier a puppy is diagnosed, and the faster he receives treatment, the better his chances of survival.

This is why it`s so important to get your pup to a vet immediately if you are even slightly concerned that he may have contracted Canine Parvovirus.

Even if it means a 40 minute drive to the 24-hour emergency pet hospital in the middle of the night. Do it right away, it could mean the difference between life and death!

Aftercare For Puppies Who Have Had Parvo

sick dog recovering in be

Although your little one may have survived the disease itself, he will probably look a very sorry sight when you get him home.

He will most likely have lost most of his body fat, and his headand paws will look much too big for his frame.

His eyes may still bedull, he`ll have little appetite and be very tired.

This can be quite frightening, but it`sperfectly normal. He`s been through a terrible ordeal and needs time torest and recover.

Give him plenty of chance to sleep and rest, that`show his body will repair itself.

Don`t worry too much about his appetite, offer good nutritiousfood and let him eat what he wants. His appetite will come back as hestarts to feel better.

Do make sure he gets plenty of water, andyou can even add unflavored Pedialyte to his water if he`ll drink it.

In spite of his initial condition,you`ll be surprised how quickly your puppy will `bounce back` if he`smanaged to fight off the canine parvovirus.

Video: What Is Parvo? - Canine Parvovirus - Cure For Parvo

Within a few weeks hislittle body will start to fill out, his appetite and strength willreturn and soon he`ll be his old self again.

He`ll also usually have a life-longimmunity to canine parvovirus.

However he will still be at risk of transmitting the virus to other dogs for two to three weeks after being pronounced `recovered`.

During this time it`s important to keep your pup away from other dogs or puppies so they don`t get sick.

I recently got an email from a visitor to my site, Dawn, whohas had her own experience with Parvo. She wanted to share thisinformation with other puppy parents in the hope that it may help....

`We had two puppies get parvo. Six from the same litter got it andthe 3 that received veterinary attention survived, the 3 that didn`t,died.

Our 2 survived but a few months later both of them got demodectic mange, which I understand is an immune problem.

My feeling is that the amount of antibiotics they took to combatthe parvo - which is what saved them - led to the mange. So we got themtreated for that, but I also started feeding them yogurt very day withthe idea of increasing the levels of good bacteria in their intestinaltract. In humans it`s believed that low levels of good bacterial lead toimmune problems, so why not dogs too?

Luckily both our puppies are fine now, but if I ever had apuppy get canine parvovirus again I would feed yogurt for severalmonths after they return from the vets.

I think Dawn has a very good point there, and after a battle withParvo a puppy certainly needs all the help he can get. Anything that canhelp rebuild his immune system has got to be a plus.

A pro-biotic product especially designed for dogs and cats such as Only Natural Pet Probiotic Blendis another excellent way to help restore the balance of microbes in your pets` digestive system.

Thanks Dawn for taking the time to share your experience. I appreciate it.

Decontamination & Disinfection - Killing The Parvo Virus

It`s important to know that the parvo virus itself is extremely hardyand difficult to `kill`.

It can live on multiple surfaces and in theground for a long period of time.


When in the soil, canine parvovirus is not dramatically affected byheat, rain, cold, frost or any other climatic condition. If the groundis frozen it basically puts the virus into a `dormant` state and whenthe ground thaws there is still a risk of contamination.

If you don`t treat/disinfect the ground, this is what you can expect....

Areas in direct sunlight - contamination lasts approx. 6 months, but could be longer

Areas in shade - contamination lasts approx. 8 months to 1 year


Parvovirus becomes inactive much more quickly indoors than it does outside. Normally contamination will last for approximately 1 - 3 months inside your home.

rottweiler with bucket and brus

Obviously, if your pup has had Parvo and survived, he`s no longerat risk from the re-contamination but other un-vaccinated dogs and puppiescould easily become infected if they come into contact with the livevirus in the ground.

Although it`s impossible to say that anything will completelydestroy parvo-virus, the most effective decontamination method is to usea solution of household bleach and water.

You can clean everything - floors, toys, walls, crates etc. -with a bleach/water solution (a 1:30 solution is often suggested,personally I would tend to make it a little stronger, perhaps 1:20).

You can also spray or soak the ground outside with this samestrength solution and use it to clean any concrete/asphalt areas yourpuppy may have used.

It`s important to make sure the bleach:water solution remains onthe surfaces/objects that you`re cleaning for at least 20 minutes.

Soak bowls, toys, mats and so on in the solution if possible, or atleast wipe over thoroughly and don`t dry off right away. You can rinseand dry them after the 20 minutes is up.

Although it`s not practical for many surfaces/objects, steam-cleaning is aform of sterilization that will deactivate the parvo virus.

It`s always a good idea to steam clean carpets if you`ve had an infected puppy in the home. The fibers in carpets can trap traces of the virus which may remain active for several months.
Steam-cleaning or sterilizing bowls, toys etc. is also pretty easy, especially if you have a steam sterilizer for baby bottles or something similar.

Here`s a heart-felt warning from a devastated dog owner who lost a litter of 7 week old puppies, and their momma, to Parvo....

`My son just lost his dog, and her litter of puppies, to Parvovirus. We took them all to the vet just as soon as we noticed that the mom wasn`t well... but it was too late, and that was within a 24 hour period. One minute they were fine, the next.... well, it`s a very sad day here. I urge everybody, PLEASE vaccinate your furbabies! It will certainly reduce the risk of suffering the heartbreak we are going through now.`

Vaccinations save lives - and it`s important to make sure that all pups and adult dogs receive their shots on time. It`s that simple. 

Canine Parvovirus Prevention

english bulldog pup getting vaccinated

There are two main ways that you can protect your pup from catching Canine Parvovirus in the first place (and as you`ve seen, that is much preferable than trying to treat it!).....

  • Making sure your pet gets all his vaccinations on time, and gets the full 3 sets (or 4 if he`s one of the especially vulnerable breeds)
  • Keeping him away from other puppies, dogs and public places until he`s had all his vaccinations

Getting the proper vaccinations, at the right time, are the #1 best way to protect your pup from Parvo.

A full series of shots need to begiven before your little guy (or gal) is fully protected. These need to be given 3 times over a periodof about 6 - 8 weeks.

But one set of shots, or even two, is no guarantee of immunity, even pups who have started their vaccinations are still atrisk until all 3 sets have been given.

It`s also good to remember that immunity doesn`t happen the instant that third shot is given.

I`d recommend waiting at least 48 hours before taking your pup out and about, just to be safe.

Also, there are some breeds, notably Rottweilers,Doberman Pinschers and Pitbulls (and other black-and-tan and bully-typebreeds), that seem to be especially vulnerable to Parvovirus.

This is because theyhave a genetic predisposition to this disease and are more likely tocatch it - and die from it.

Even when fully vaccinated thesebreeds don`t always reach a level of protection that most others will.

For puppies of these breeds, it`s recommended that they get a fourthcanine parvovirus vaccination at around 16 weeks (can be done at thesame time as the Rabies shot)

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