parvovirus in dogs: What Every Owner Should Know About Parvo in Dogs

You have probably heard of parvovirus in dogs and are interested in knowing how to recognize it.

Parvovirus is a very common viral disease in dogs that can be fatal, especially in puppies, as their immune systems are still very weak. It is transmitted orally and is very contagious.

This disease is not transmitted to humans, but it can be lethal for your dog. It is therefore important to know its symptoms and characteristics, to act quickly at the slightest suspicion. It is also essential to properly deworm our dogs and vaccinate them against the disease, in order to prevent its consequences.

Parvo in dogs

What is parvovirus?

Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that affects reproducing cells, for example, those lining the intestinal tract. It can also affect the heart and red blood cells.

The disease is transmitted by oral contact with infected feces, as the virus remains in them in large quantities even several weeks after infection. The virus is spread by being carried in the dog’s hair and feet, as well as in shoes and other contaminated objects. It affects dogs of any age, although the most severe cases occur in puppies.

Not all breeds are equally resistant to the virus. Doberman Pinschers, Pit bulls, Labradors, and Rottweilers, for example, are more easily infected than other breeds and suffer more severe symptoms, although parvovirus can affect dogs of all breeds and ages.

How to detect parvovirus in dogs

We always advise you to visit your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog or puppy has symptoms of parvovirus. However, if it is impossible for you to visit a veterinarian or you prefer to do it quickly at home, you can opt for a parvovirus test.

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How parvovirus develops and how to treat it.

The incubation period of parvovirus lasts between four and five days. Thereafter, the acute phase of the disease occurs, during which dogs suffer from depression, vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs have a high fever (41°C), while others have no fever. Puppies may have a recumbent belly and abdominal pain. The diarrhea contains mucus and blood, and they quickly become dehydrated.

In some cases, puppies have cardiac inflammation, although this is now less common due to vaccination of breeding bitches two to four weeks prior to conception. With this, we achieve that the antibodies of the little ones increase and they are more protected.

As it is such a serious disease, whenever our puppy presents vomiting and diarrhea, we will consult our veterinarian in case it is parvovirus. We must not forget that this disease requires veterinary attention and that, unless it is a mild case, it is possible that the dog will be hospitalized to correct dehydration and administer electrolytes, in addition to controlling vomiting and diarrhea.

There is no specific treatment for this disease, so what is done is to stimulate the dog’s immune system to prevent it and treat dehydration and other symptoms.In addition, antibiotics are often administered to prevent septicemia and other bacterial complications that are the usual cause of death in dogs.

It is important to know that during the first 48-72 hours, death of the dog can occur, with dehydration being the biggest problem. To try to avoid it, we will provide fresh water in small quantities and frequently, as well as the serum recommended by our veterinarian. Also, we will prevent the dog from eating during the first 24-48 hours in order to avoid vomiting and diarrhea.

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How to prevent the spread of parvovirus in our dogs

It is very important to thoroughly clean and disinfect the housing of infected animals, since it is a very resistant virus that withstands most cleaning products and is able to live for months outside a dog. The most suitable disinfectant is household bleach diluted in water, which should be left on the contaminated surface for about 20 minutes before rinsing.

Most cases of parvovirus (although not all) can be prevented by vaccination during the first eight weeks of the life of the dog.

In the first few weeks of life, the puppy is protected by the mother’s antibodies, but as these begin to diminish, it is necessary to administer the vaccine. Puppies between 6 and 20 weeks of age are more prone to contracting the disease if exposed to it. Therefore, it is necessary to isolate young puppies from other dogs, as well as from potential sources of infection, until they complete the vaccination series. It will be necessary to administer the vaccine annually.

Parvovirus Vaccine in Dogs

Available vaccines protect against all current strains of parvovirus. All puppies should receive a series of two to four vaccinations from 8 to 16 weeks of age.

Current vaccines are more effective than older vaccines even in the presence of maternal antibodies, which reduces the risk of transmission between the period of waning maternal antibodies and the period of acquired immunity from the vaccine.

Until the puppy receives all its doses, at 16 weeks of age, it should not be exposed to other dogs or to sources of infection. Therefore, he should not be taken out into the street until the series of vaccinations is completed.

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To maintain immunity, an annual vaccination will be necessary.

Breeding bitches should be vaccinated two to four weeks prior to whelping to ensure high levels of antibodies in their colostrum.

This is a complicated virus to cure. The dog may suffer a relapse months after appearing to be cured, especially if the disease was severe and had a heart condition.


  • Parvovirus is a serious and highly contagious viral disease.
  • It is transmitted by oral contact with infected feces.
  • The virus is carried in the dog’s hair and paws, as well as in contaminated shoes and objects.
  • It is often necessary to hospitalize the dog to fight dehydration and diarrhea.
  • Antibiotics will also be administered to prevent secondary illnesses.
  • Puppies are especially prone to the disease.
  • Parvovirus can be fatal within 48-72 hours due to bacterial complications.
  • The Parvovirus is resistant even months after leaving the dog, so thorough disinfection and proper cleaning must be maintained.
  • It is very important to administer the necessary vaccinations from the time the dog is a puppy.
  • Puppies should not be in contact with other dogs or foci of infection until 16 weeks of age, when they have received their first complete series of vaccinations.
  • The symptoms of parvovirus are mainly listlessness, vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes they have a high fever.
  • These are symptoms common to many diseases. If they occur, consult your veterinarian.
  • If your puppy suddenly has vomiting and diarrhea, suspect parvovirus.
  • See your veterinarian immediately to prevent complications.
  • Consult your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may have caught the virus.

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