Dog parvo symptoms are of great concern to many dog owners and
breeders. This article will help you to identify dog parvo symptoms and
learn what you should do if you detect them in your puppy.
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.
Dog parks and dog walks on highways 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
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.
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 ½-cup of bleach per gallon of
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%. Return to
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.
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. Return to top
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!