What Is the Parvo Virus?





  • Once parvo manifests itself in the stomach lining the dog cannot properly absorb liquids and nutrients, leading to weakness and lethargy.


  • Some of the first symptoms of parvo are vomiting, diarrhea and a general malaise that overtakes the animal. Loss of appetite and a terrible-smelling, bloody stool will follow, with severe cases causing dehydration and possible death.

  • Vaccinations are available for parvo, with the shots beginning at 6 weeks of age and continuing until the dog is 5 months old for them to be the most effective. The majority of veterinarians recommend an annual booster for parvo, according to Working Dogs.com.

Time Frame

  • Parvo exists in the feces of infected dogs and can remain infectious for as long as five months. An exposed dog usually takes from a week to 10 days to show any signs of the parvo virus and to test positive.


  • A puppy that lives through its battle with parvo often is weak and sickly for the rest of its life. Some will suffer a form of congestive heart failure brought about by the ailment, sometimes years after the dog has apparently recovered from the illness.



Parvovirus, or parvo, is an incredibly contagious virus that can cause severe illness and eventually death in puppies, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Parvo cannot be cured, so any animal that displays the symptoms should be immediately taken to a veterinary hospital. Diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, not eating and fever are all symptoms of the parvovirus.

Instructions, how to spot parvo

    • Watch your dog for signs of depression or lethargy. These early symptoms occur between three and 10 days after your dog is exposed to the virus. He may not be his usual playful self and he may sleep more than normal. (Reference 2)

    • Observe the dog’s feces. Parvo often attacks the cells in the intestine, causing watery diarrhea. As a result, a dog with parvo may quickly become dehydrated. (Reference 2)

    • Look for vomiting episodes with or without signs of abdominal pain. In some dogs, the stomach contracts, causing them to tuck their abdomen in and upward. (Reference 1)

    • Check very young puppies for the cardio version of parvo. This less-common form of the virus spreads from the mother dog to her unborn pups and they frequently die soon after birth. The virus attacks the young heart muscle, causing cardiac arrest. (Reference 1, page 78)

    • Take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as you suspect parvo. Some dogs survive the virus if they receive prompt emergency treatment that involves the intravenous fluid replacement. Your veterinarian may order a blood serum test to make a quick diagnosis. (Reference 1)



Instructions, how to treat parvo

    • Take your puppy to see a veterinarian soon after it is born. Between birth and the puppy’s first visit to the vet, keep the dog away from other animals that may be carriers of the disease. A veterinary visit will ensure that your puppy’s vaccinations are up to date, and the doctor will inform you of specific preventative methods to keep your dog safe. The article “Canine Parvovirus” on the Claws and Paws Veterinary Hospital website states that if your puppy does contract parvovirus you must take him or her to the vet for hospitalization. Hospitalization ensures that experienced veterinary professionals can monitor your pet’s health while giving the pet the antibiotics and hydration necessary to effectively treat the symptoms of the virus.

    • Keep your animal’s habitat clean. The Claws and Paws Veterinary Hospital article “Canine Parvovirus” suggests you use a solution of 4 oz. liquid bleach and 1 gallon water to clean any solid surfaces that come into contact with your pet or their stool. Thoroughly clean bedding, collars, crates and kennels, floors and favorite napping or playing areas.

    • Limit your pet’s exposure to other animals. Puppies are especially susceptible to parvo virus, so be sure that during walks your pet does not come into contact with other dogs’ solid waste or vomit. Keep your puppy away from other sick animals, and try to keep it at home for grooming or training. Places where dogs frequently gather can be breeding grounds for the virus, so investing in a grooming kit and a few training tools will go a long way in preventing development of the sickness. Use a kennel crate or large carrier to keep your puppy away from other sick animals if they reside in the same home. Also change your puppy’s bedding daily to prevent the accumulation of waste.