Canine Parvovirus is an intestinal virus of dogs that causes severe gastro-intestinal upset.

What are the symptoms of Parvovirus?

The hallmark symptoms of Parvovirus infection are:

  • Listlessness
  • Depressed Appetite
  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • Hypersalivation
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Parvo virus can come on gradually over a few days, or sometimes in as little as 12 hours. If left untreated, most pets will die from the effects of this virus!

Which animals are susceptible to Parvovirus?

All members of the Canidae(dogs, coyotes, dingo’s etc.) and Ursine (Bears) families are able to catch parvo virus. Young puppies are usually the most severely affected by this disease because they have limited immune systems and their small weights allow them to become dehydrated easily. Certain breeds of dogs including the Rotteweiller and Doberman Pinscher are especially sensitive to this virus. Their immune systems do not appear to develop good immunity to this virus, even after vaccination.

How is Parvovirus Transmitted?

Parvovirus is a very strong virus. It can live in the environment for over a year and still remain infective. Dogs contract parvovirus by ingesting the virus from contact with an infected dogs secretions (feces, vomit, urine or saliva). The virus is so strong, that it can be transmitted on peoples clothing to the home where the dog can be exposed to it.

Why do the pets get so sick from parvovirus?

The virus causes the lining of the intestine to die off. This leaves the bloodstream exposed to the contents of the intestine. Without its protective lining, the intestine allows bacteria from the intestine to enter the blood stream. These bacteria then release toxins which cause the dog to go into endotoxic shock. At the same time, blood and protein leak into the intestine causing severe bloody diarrhea and emaciation. The virus also depresses the immune system (similar to the AIDS virus of people). Without the white blood cells to protect them, animals cannot overcome the viral and bacterial onslaught and will often times die.

Can Parvovirus infection be prevented?

Vaccinations are our best weapon in the fight to prevent Parvovirus infection. In order to ensure proper immunization, dogs should be vaccinated beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, every 3 weeks until they are 4 months of age. During this time, the pets should be isolated from other dogs to help protect them. It is important that the vaccinations be given be handled and administered properly in order to work. For this reason, we do not recommend vaccinating your own pets!

Can Parvovirus infection be treated by Our Veterinarians?

Our veterinarians have been very successful in treating Parvovirus in our hospital. Instead of the 80% mortality rate that was common years ago, we now experience about 85-90% survival rate! Unfortunately, the only way to successfully treat this disease is to hospitalize the dog and treat them for days with strong antibiotics and intravenous fluids. While this is successful in most cases, it can be fairly costly. Therefore, we always encourage preventive vaccination!

What can I do to get rid of Parvo in my house?

Parvovirus is very strong virus. It remains in the environment for months if not treated. It is not killed by many of our routine household cleaners. Diluted bleach (1 oz per quart) is the best disinfectant. For areas that cannot be bleached, Lysol can be used with less success. If your pet has recovered from Parvovirus, clean any place contaminated by urine, feces, vomit or saliva for at least 1 month after recovery.

Our veterinary team hope you find this information useful in understanding Parvovirus infection. If you have any questions about this or any other aspect of your pet’s health care, feel free to ask our doctors at (909) 980-3575.