canine parvovirus canine parvovirus is a potentially fatal highly ...

Parvovirus And Your Dog

Parvovirus (commonly called Parvo) is a viral disease that affects dogs. It is far more common in puppies than adult dogs and can have serious ramifications for the infected animal, including death. Parvo grows best in the rapidly dividing cells of the dog’s intestines. As the virus attacks and kills these cells it causes massive diarrhea and halts or slows the creation of white blood cells. In young puppies it can often directly infect the heart, leading to death.

The symptoms of Parvo start with fever, depression, and lethargy. The dog will usually experience a loss of appetite as well and then eventually show more sever signs like vomiting and diarrhea which is often bloody. Once the virus reaches this stage dehydration and death usually follow.

Parvo is carried and transmitted by dogs. The vomit and feces of an infected animal will also carry the virus which is rather resilient and can survive outside the dog’s body in the surrounding environment for as long as nine months. Sometimes an adult dog can be infected by the virus and show no symptoms but act as a carrier transmitting the virus to the other animals it comes into contact with.

There is no cure for Parvo. Dogs that are infected will die of dehydration without treatment. That treatment primarily consists of providing fluids, giving repeated blood transfusions, and preventing dehydration. The mortality rate in dogs affected by Parvo is about 20% if the dog receives treatment in time. Without treatment, about 80% of those infected will die from it. It is a very serious disease.

Parvo tends to affect some dog breeds more than others. Dobermans, Rottweilers, and other black and tan dogs have a greater chance of contracting the virus. The reason for this is unknown but the fact that these dogs are at higher risk does not mean that owners of other types of dogs can rest easily. Dogs of any breed can become infected.

While there is no cure for Parvo, puppies can (and should) be vaccinated against it at an early age. Most vets recommend puppies be immunized starting at six weeks of age with vaccinations continuing until twenty weeks of age. Proper immunization is the best way to prevent a dog from contracting Parvo.

About the author: Kirsten Hawkins is a dog lover and animal expert from Nashville, TN. Visit for more information on dog health, the care of dogs, and dog travel.


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11 Responses to “Parvovirus”

  1. Roberto S. says:

    okay today i came back home from work and there was a 5 month old german sheperd and he has parvovirus. and my one year old dog was there close to him. my dog got hes vaccine for parvovirus but im worried he still might get it. so wat should i do ? should i take him to the vet. to check if he has the disiese? or does the vaccine proctect him? pleeassee heellppp im soooo wooriied!

  2. Admin says:


    In spite of what vets will tell you, vaccinations do NOT guarantee immunity from Parvo. In fact, Parvo shots can actually give a dog the virus (as well as causing both short- and long-term problems, which include chronic inflammation and cancer)!

    The best way to keep your dog healthy is to make sure his immune system is strong. For that, we advise no chemicals of any type (i.e. no vaccinations, no dewormers, no cheap commercial dog food, no access to household or garden chemical products).

    The dog food we use with our own dogs is called Triumph – it’s chemical-free, made in the USA, and is nutritious, unlike most commercial brands which contain ingredients you probably don’t want to even think about.

    Finally, we recommend giving a daily maintenance dose of a couple of natural, herbal products – see our Daily Maintenance Kit for details.

  3. Angie says:

    What are the long term effects of parvovirus in dogs?
    Also are parvo survivors thinner than other dogs who’ve never had parvovirus? My yorkiepoo is kind of on the skinnier side and I was just wondering could having parvo be a possible cause.
    He eats Merrick’s puppy plate for dry food and sometimes I’ll give him the canned stuff(also by Merrick’s). He also gets carrots or peaches.

  4. TIM says:

    I had a Wolf Hybrid who caught Parvo twice after he was vaccinated. Just keep an eye on your dog. You cannot mistake the smell of Parvo in a dog’s feces.

  5. Bel12 says:

    How long do puppies who recovered from Parvovirus continue to shed the virus in their stool?
    I wanted to adopt a puppy who recovered from parvovirus and was cleared for adoption twenty days ago. I have older dogs at home. Can they get sick? My older dogs titer test read 1:5 which is immunologic response to the vaccine. 1:5 or greater is immunologic response. Do you think it is safe?

  6. cm30324 says:


    Here is what we know about how contaminated an environment is likely to be:

    Infected dogs shed virus (in their stool) in gigantic amounts during the 2 weeks following exposure. Because such enormous amounts of virus are shed, there is a HUGE potential for environmental contamination when a infected dog has been there.

    It is important to realize that because the canine parvovirus is so hardy in the environment, it is considered “ubiquitous.” This means that NO ENVIRONMENT is free from this virus unless it is regularly disinfected.
    A parvoviral infection can be picked up ANYWHERE though it is easier to pick up an infection in an area where an infected dog has been present simply because of the larger amounts of virus present in a contaminated area.

    Dogs’ & cats’ immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus (MLV) vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces an immunity which is good for the life of the pet (i.e. canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper)(15- p35, 20, 21, 23) Modified live virus vaccines must replicate to stimulate the immune system. If another MLV vaccine is given, the antibodies from the first vaccine block the replication of the new virus. The actively acquired immunity in effect neutralizes the antigens of second vaccine, and there is little or no effect. (8,15,16,19,23a,23c) The titer (level of immunity) is not “boosted” nor are memory cells expanded.
    Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary (6), they subject the pet to the potential risk of adverse reactions like allergic reactions, Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (4, 21) (a disease where the dog rejects its’ own blood) and Injection Site Fibrosarcomas for cats.
    The AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents has stated: There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of modified live virus vaccines.

    Booster vaccines” or annual re-administration of modified live virus vaccines like
    distemper and parvo virus do not provide added protection. In previously
    vaccinated adult animals the antibodies from previous vaccinations block the
    new vaccine. Antibody levels are not increased, memory cells are not increased.
    (23 a)

    The duration of immunity for modified live virus vaccines like K9 Distemper and Parvovirus
    have been proven to be 7 years by challenge and 15 and 7 years respectively by serology. Memory cells persist for life.(23a,23b)

    Titers of antibody levels do not accurately predict immunity or lack of immunity.

  7. Victor A says:

    How long does the Parvovirus last and when can i get another puppy?
    How long does the Parvovirus last and when can i get another puppy Iwant to get A German Shepherd puppy but im scared that if i buy one he could die and we could have wasted 300 to 500 dollars for a puppy that died what should i do?

  8. Ashley Sewell says:

    not likely – parvo works by attacking and destoying the crypt cells lining the small intestine; after the virus has run its course, the cells of the GI tract restore themselve (replication/replace occurs frequently in the small intestinal lining).

    but, talk with your vet about your concerns – he/she might be able to find another reason for the unthriftiness of your pet – parasites, poor diet, etc

  9. lauriechabot says:

    On July 14, my doberman was diagnosed with the parvovirus. I had her into the vets office 9 times in 5 days. They had given her IV’s each time. I took her home on the 22. She is almost back to normal. She is playing, and drinking, and eating somethings. She has lost any appitite for her normal dog food, so I have been giving her canned food. She still has diarrhea. I called the vet and she told me to give her immodium and yougert. So I have been doing this. Last night for the first time since I brought her home she vomited. She has not had a bowel movement since Saturday night/Sunday morning. Now she is turning down the canned food. Is it possible that she is getting the virus all over again??
    As to the useless answer that michellereducf posted. She did have all of her vaccines, and she is up to date on all of them!!!!! If you actually know anything about vaccinations you would know that they are not 100%. In spite of proper vaccination, a small percentage of dogs do not develop protective immunity and remain susceptible to infection. Since she is a doberman pinscher she is more susceptible to parvo. But thanks to the rest of you for all of you answers.
    She holds down her food for about 18 hours before she actually has a bowel movement. Like I said she has only vomitted once since she has been home.

  10. mama woof says:

    I would get a vaccinated dog from a breeder. If you just want a pet, you can get one for less than 500 dollars. Just tell the breeder you want one that has had at least two vaccines. And then you keep up the vaccines every 3-4wks until she is 5mo old–20wks. Parvo is horrible, but if your dog’s immune system is ready to fight it off, it won’t hurt her.
    You won’t get rid of the parvo in your home for several months to a few years. Your only choice is to get the dog’s immune system prepared. Don’t get a blue dog. Get the regular GSD coat. Blue coats have immune problems in many breeds.

  11. JR says:

    Yes she could have a relapse she should not have been released until she was holding down food water and no diarhea.