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July 17, 2012 at 9:57 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Parvo: The Deadly Virus

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

What is Parvo?

Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus mainly affecting puppies and dogs through contact (direct or indirect) with feces. This disease, although very dangerous and highly contagious, has only been around since the late 1970's.

There are two types: Cardiac and Intestinal

Intestinal Form: Severe vomiting and diarrhea

Cardiac Form (less common): Respiratory or Cardiovascular failure in young puppies

The virus can be in the feces for up to three weeks following the infection. If your puppy or dog is diagnosed with Parvo, inform your friends, family, and neighbors who may have dogs that have been in contact with your puppy or live near you, as they will need to take precautions for their pets as well.

How Do I Protect My Puppy or Dog?

Vaccination is your only prevention. Because this virus is hardy and can be found surviving on feces and other organic material (soil) for over a year, it is extremely difficult to avoid in some areas. Parvo can even survive extreme temperatures.

Vaccinating your puppy or dog is the best way to help protect them. Make sure your dog is also parasite free, as the virus is more deadly if the puppy or dog is infested with worms or other internal parasites.

If your puppy has been diagnosed with Parvo, they will require immediate veterinary care. It is important that you take the precautions of disinfecting the areas your puppy or dog have been in. Bleach is the only known disinfectant that kills this virus.

TRAINER TIP: If your puppy is not vaccinated, do not introduce or let your puppy play with other dogs you don't know. Avoid areas such as dog parks for playtime and walking trails. Also, take care while walking your little puppy to avoid other dog's feces left on the ground by irresponsible pet owners. It is best to avoid walking your little puppy until fully vaccinated unless you can do it only on cement, avoiding grass and dirt areas.

What are the Symptoms?


Loss of Appetite


Diarrhea (usually bloody)


Dehydration (caused by vomiting and diarrhea)


Endotoxemia (toxins escaping into the bloodstream)

Odor (usually in the later stages of the infection)



What Type of Treatment Is Given?

Sadly the survival rate of this deadly disease is very small. It will depend on several variables like: age of your pet, how advanced the disease is, and how aggressive the treatment is.

Long term hospitalization will be required due to severe dehydration and damage to intestines and bone marrow. Fluids with injections of medicines will help counteract the discomfort of the bowels and intestines being inflamed. They will also rehydrate your puppy or dog. Sometimes a blood transfusion will be required to help build immunity in a very sick pet.

Depending on the severity of the disease hospital stays can be 2 days to 2 weeks, and there is no guarantee, even afterwards, that your pet will survive. With no treatment pets can die within 48-72 hours.

Parvo is a very serious and deadly disease that can easily be prevented through vaccinations and protecting your puppy from other dogs until their series of shots has been completed.

Vets have heard all the excuses in the book when it comes to a puppy or dog that gets this virus:

  • I've been so overwhelmed at work that I haven't had time to make an appointment to get my puppy or dog vaccinated.
  • I didn't have the money. (Seriously, how can you afford a puppy or dog in the first place?)
  • I didn't realize vaccinations were that important?

Please~your puppy or dog is worth more then excuses, vaccinate to protect and keep them healthy.


Wikipedia - Canine Parovirus

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