Canine parvovirus, commonly referred to as parvo, is a potentially fatal and highly contagious disease that affects the intestinal tract, white blood cells, and heart muscle of dogs.

Signs of canine parvo

Dogs with canine parvovirus will often exhibit:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Depression

The vomiting and diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and death. 

How canine parvo is spread

Canine parvovirus is highly resistant, capable of living in the environment for months on objects like food bowls, clothes, shoes, and floors. It is spread when a person, animal, or object comes into contact with an infected dog’s feces. 

Puppies and older dogs who have not been vaccinated against canine parvo are at increased risk of contracting the virus. 

Diagnosing canine parvo

To diagnose canine parvovirus, we may conduct various laboratory tests, including a fecal examination, blood tests, and others.  

Treating canine parvo

While there is no medication to treat canine parvovirus, the symptoms of the virus can be treated and controlled with antibiotics, IV fluids, and medications to control the vomiting and diarrhea and other supportive care measures.

Treating the symptoms of canine parvovirus and working to boost the dog’s immune system is quite expensive and will typically require about a week in the veterinary hospital. These measures are not always successful; many dogs diagnosed with canine parvo will succumb to the virus, which is why it is essential to prevent the virus.

Preventing canine parvo

Canine Parvovirus can be prevented. All dogs—puppies and adults—should receive a canine parvovirus vaccine as part of their core vaccines. Puppies will often be given a “5-in-1” vaccine, which protects against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. An initial vaccine is required, and several boosters will follow until the puppy is one year old. Throughout life, dogs should receive vaccines on a regular schedule appropriate for their lifestyle. 

Until your puppy is at least four months old, avoid areas where other dogs gather, like dog parks and boarding and grooming facilities.

Because canine parvo is resistant to many disinfectants, it can be challenging to eradicate. If there has been an infected dog in your yard or home, be sure to meticulously clean the area and nearby objects with a solution of 1:32 parts bleach to water. 

If you suspect your dog has symptoms of canine parvo, contact our office immediately and let us know the signs your pup is exhibiting. It is essential to remain in your car once you arrive at our veterinary clinic and wait for one of our staff members to get your furry friend to avoid contaminating our lobby.

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