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 Parvo

Dogs with parvovirus will often exhibit:

  • Lethargy

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • Depression

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

How Parvo is Spread

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.

Young dogs and those who have not been vaccinated against parvo are at increased risk of contracting the virus.

Diagnosing Parvo

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

Treating Parvo

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

Treating the symptoms of 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 parvo will succumb to the virus.

Preventing Parvo

Parvovirus can be prevented. All dogs—puppies and adults—should receive a 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 1 year old. Throughout life, dogs should receive vaccines on a regular schedule appropriate for their lifestyle.

Until your puppy is at least 4 months old, avoid areas where other dogs gather, like dog parks and boarding and grooming facilities.

Because parvo is resistant to many disinfectants, it can be difficult 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 your dog begins to show signs of parvovirus, contact our office immediately.