What is Parvo in Dogs

Parvo (in dogs) is the common name for the Canine Parvovirus. It is a highly contagious virus which affects dogs more than cats, although there is Parvo virus in cats. It is a disease spread through direct or indirect contact with feces. The common symptoms of Parvo include sever vomiting and dysentery (diarrhea). In most cases, surviving parvo requires veterinary hospitalization.

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Does My Puppy Need a Parvo Vaccine?

The short answer is YES! Puppies with Parvo are far more likely to die without a vaccine than with the vaccine. In fact, the Parvovirus vaccine is highly recommended and quite effective in preventing parvo.

What is the Parvovirus Vaccine Schedule?

  • 8 weeks
  • 11 weeks
  • 14 weeks
  • 17 weeks
  • At 1 year MLV Distemper/ Parvovirus

After that, 1 to 3 years depending on risk factors


What are the Signs of Parvo

Symptoms of Parvo vary depending on the dogs age, if they have been vaccinated for the parvovirus, and the type of Parvo the dog is infected with. Basically, there are three types of Parvo related illnesses.


When a dog has been vaccinated, they can be a carrier of the disease and show no signs or symptoms. However, they are contagious to other dogs. Therefore, if you have an unvaccinated dog or a puppy less than 6 months old, keep them away from strange dogs.


Cardiac Symptoms

While it is less common, the cardiac version of Parvo exists. Outward signs are little except the dog may have difficulty breathing. What happens is the dog has severe inflammation and necrosis (cell death) in the heart muscles. This makes it hard for the dog or puppy to breathe. Puppies less than 8 weeks of age are most likely to die from this form. Older dogs can survive but will have scarring on the heart.

Intestinal Parvo Signs

This is the most common type of parvovirus present in dogs. It causes severe trauma to the intestinal tract, which leads to secondary bacterial infections. 85% of affected dogs are less than 1 year old. Many times it is before a puppy can receive the full set of vaccinations.


Outward Signs of Intestinal Parvo in Dogs

  • Lethargy – not moving a lot
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea – foul smelling odor and severe diarrhea
  • Intussusception – when a section of the inflamed intestinal tract telescopes into itself. This is an emergency.
  • Fever

Symptoms of Parvo generally occur within 12 hours of being infected. Dogs need medical treatment for this disease to survive.

How is the Parvovirus Treated?

  • Hospitalization – Veterinary hospitalization is most likely required, due to the severe dehydration of the dog.
  • Antibiotics – Since Parvo is a virus, there is no antibiotic for the disease, although antibiotics can be given for the secondary diseases.
  • IV – IVs are given to keep the dog hydrated and to provide electrolytes while the puppy is recovering from the illness.
  • Anit-Nausea Medication – Anti-nausea medication is often given to stop the vomiting allowing your puppy to take in water and food orally.

Are Some Dog Breeds More Susceptible to the Parvovirus?

Yes, there seems to be a link with certain dog breeds and a higher infection rate of Parvo. The dog breeds most likely to get Parvo include:

  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman Pincher
  • German Shepherds
  • Pit Bulls
  • Labrador Retrievers
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