Dog Parvo Symptoms

Dog parvo symptoms are of great concern to many dog guardians. This article will help you to identify dog parvo symptoms and learn what you should do if you detect them in your puppy.

Puppy held by a vet
Parvo is a very serious disease, especially for puppies.

Parvo in raccoons and other animals

Raccoons and minks have been known to have forms of parvo, but they appear to be unrelated to canine parvo. The "good" thing about parvo is that it rarely, if ever, crosses into other animals or humans. The virus is closely related to feline panleukemia, but does not cause cats to become ill. Neither does dog parvo cause human parvo virus.

Although there is a cardiac variety of parvo which causes entirely different signs of disease, the most common dog parvo symptoms are caused by the intestinal form of the virus. The disease most commonly affects puppies under six months of age, and can often be fatal. Therefore, it is vital that you learn to recognize dog parvo symptoms as early as possible.

How can parvo be transmitted?

What typically happens is that a puppy eats infected soil or feces, picking up the virus, which travels to the lymphatic system in the throat and begins dividing rapidly. The virus begins pouring out of the lymph system and into the bloodstream where it attacks any rapidly dividing cells in the body. The biggest problem caused by dog parvo symptoms is when the virus reaches the intestinal tract, where it begins "eating" the intestinal wall.

Parvo can be picked up at dog parks
Dog parks are common places to contract the parvo virus.

The destruction of the intestines is what causes the key dog parvo symptoms of bloody diarrhea, strong feces odor, lack of appetite, and clear, foamy vomit. Eventually, the virus ruptures the intestinal wall, spilling feces into the abdominal cavity which causes a major infection there. The dog quickly dies from a combination of the abdominal infection and dehydration from the intestinal disturbance.

Parvo vaccine

The most important thing you can do to prevent dog parvo symptoms is to get your dog vaccinated. Puppies are the most common victims of dog parvo symptoms because the antibodies your puppy gets from his mother's milk interferes with the vaccines commonly given to puppies. Vets don't know exactly when the passive immunity from the mama dog stops, allowing the vaccine to begin creating active immunity. For this reason, puppies are usually vaccinated at 6 - 8 weeks, then again every three or four weeks until the dog reaches about 4 months of age. This allows at least one of the vaccines to reach the dog at a time when the passive immunity has worn off, preventing any chance of your dog developing dog parvo symptoms. Dogs are then given a booster shot yearly to maintain the immunity.

vaccine needle
The best defense against dog parvo is vaccination.

How to kill parvo virus

Once your puppy has had an episode of dog parvo symptoms, you must take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease to other dogs in your home or neighborhood. The parvovirus can live as long as five months on surfaces and is resistant to many of the common disinfectants you may think to use. The only effective disinfectant is bleach, diluted at a ˝-cup of bleach per gallon of water.

A dog recovering from dog parvo symptoms will still be contagious for up to a month. Your dog must be kept isolated from all other dogs, and you must be vigilant at picking up all of your dog's stools as soon as they hit the ground. Use the chlorine bleach solution to wash all surfaces your dog may have touched, including food and water bowls, bedding, linoleum floors, crates, even your yard. This will undoubtedly kill your grass, but it will keep your other dogs from dying!

And make no mistake about it, parvovirus is 90 - 95% fatal if untreated. Even with treatment, there is no guarantee dog parvo symptoms will not kill a puppy. A puppy who contracts a very virulent strain must be treated nearly immediately to save him. The lesser strain can result in horrible illness, but treatment generally reduces the mortality of dog parvo symptoms to 10%.

Treatments for parvo

Treatment is aimed primarily at undoing the damage created by dog parvo symptoms. The diarrhea and vomiting that are hallmarks of the infection quickly cause the dog to become dehydrated. The dog is typically hospitalized while IV fluids are given to prevent further dehydration. Vitamins, sugar, and potassium are added to the IV to prevent malnutrition. Anti-nausea medications can prevent further vomiting. Antibiotics may be given to protect against secondary bacterial infections. Once the dog gets to the point where he can take food by mouth, very bland food is given to help prevent dog parvo symptoms from recurring.

Dog receiving I.V. treatment
IV fluids are a usual treatment for dog parvo.

There has been talk of a home remedy for puppy parvo, but nothing has been proven. Some reports claim that Tamiflu reduces the severity and duration of parvo virus in dogs. Others recommend a natural herbal formula from Amber Technology called Parvaid. Keep in mind that there is no clinical evidence that these alternative treatments for canine parvo are effective.

Although parvo puppies can be of any breed, black and tan dogs, such as Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers seem to be most susceptible to the disease. They are also most likely to show more severe dog parvo symptoms as adults. The symptoms of parvo in dogs are the same as parvo symptoms in puppies. However, it is important to remember that an adult dog may be exposed to the virus without ever showing any dog parvo symptoms because of the adult dog's immune strength. The lack of dog parvo symptoms doesn't mean that the dog cannot pass infected feces to other dogs. This further underscores the need for early and repeated immunizations.

Puppy held by a vet
If your puppy displays parvo symptoms, get them to the vet quickly.

Because puppy parvo are so deadly, it is important you pay careful attention to any dog parvo symptoms your dog shows. If you even suspect an infection, get your dog to the vet immediately. Many puppy diseases show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, but few are as deadly as parvo. The fecal odor, known as "parvo smell" may be tough for you to identify, but your vet will likely recognize it the minute you bring your puppy in. Supportive therapy must be provided immediately, even if the diagnosis is not yet confirmed. If your dog makes it through the first three or four days of parvo symptoms, he is likely to live. However, if you ignore the diarrhea or try to treat it at home, you risk losing your little bundle of fur quite rapidly. The best advice is not to ignore dog parvo symptoms, particularly in puppies. Better to have a non-parvo puppy treated than to have an infected puppy die from dog parvo symptoms!


Leave a comment on this article here!


Lyssa Hodges
parvo is very deadly..i just lost my little bundle of fur to parvo today!!(02/15/2009).she had the most common symptoms...we did everything that we could do to save here....
Im treating my 6 month pitbull now for parvo, she is on the Ivs fluids anti's etc 4 days in and lookin like she will make it, just watch out for the Vets no 1 wanted to take her!! we kept trying and finnaly found a vet to take her and the bill is gona be 2500-5000
My puppy is in the vet's office right now with parvo. She has been there since Monday and looks good I guess every puppy in the litter has died but her and I read that if she can live 4 days recovery is very high. I only had her a week before she got sick but I fell in love with her the first time I saw her and hope she gets well.
Article and comments are quite valuable. Reading as much as I can before I get my puppy. Based on comments provided, this disease is very common. Now I'll be afraid to take the pup outside!
We just got a black lab puppy and found out he hasparvo,he is in the vet hospital as I sit and type he has been in for 2 days hopefully he will pull through.
Janet Ford
I've written an article on on how to treat your puppy for parvo at home.
Parvo is very deadly for puppies. In short - If you have a puppy acting depressed, sick or under the weather and you can't even get it to eat a hotdog or something of high value as that - Take them to your vet ASAP. Parvo is dangerous and not to be taken lightly. Sheila
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My Sierra (Cockapoo) came from a litter of 8 along with another litter of 8 and all puppies had Parvo. Michelle owner of Smokey Pine Pups moved to her livingroom to sleep next to the puppies. There were only 6 really sick pups that needed daily vet visits. She didn't loose any of the puppies and offered her clients their money back if they didn't want to chance taking a Parvo puppy. I am happy to say that 4 1/2 years later Sierra is a happy, healthy mischievous dog who is the love of our lives.
My dog survived Parvo 11 years ago and never again got sick after that thank God. But I was very devistated and saving his life ate up my savings. First he had to be hospitalized for a week. While he was in the hospital, I had to theroughly and I mean theroughly disinfect my apartment and that was a very expendsive and big job. However, I was not going to take risks with his health. Then coming home, I hired a nurse for him and made him special chicken soup to nurse him back to health,
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