Our dogs are just like family to us, something that every dog owner and dog lover knows. We do our best to ensure the health, happiness, and safety of our dogs. However, just like with humans, dogs can and do get sick. It is up to us to recognize the symptoms, treat the illness, and if possible, prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Parvo, otherwise known as the parvovirus, is one of these illnesses which dogs are susceptible to. Parvovirus is a pretty serious viral infection that can lead to other life threatening illnesses, so it is something that needs to be recognized and dealt with immediately. Let’s talk about everything there is to know about parvovirus and your dog.

What Is Parvo?

Parvo is also known as canine parvovirus. It is a very highly contagious disease which can result in other more severe life threatening illnesses. This is a very fast acting virus that works to divide the cells in a dog’s body. The most severely affected parts in a dog’s body is usually the intestinal tract. This virus can also attack a dog’s white blood cells. If the dog is very young and still developing, it can also damage the heart and cause lifelong cardiovascular issues.

The Symptoms Of Parvo

If your dog has parvovirus, there are certain symptoms which you should be able to recognize. If your dog has parvo, the following symptoms will usually be displayed;

  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Severe diarrhea (horrible smelling & bloody).
  • Dehydration.

One of the big issues with parvo is that the diarrhea and vomiting lead to severe dehydration, which can be deadly in a fairly short amount of time, especially for a younger dog that has not yet reached maturity.

Which Dogs Are Prone To Contracting It?

The reality is that all dogs can contract the parvovirus, but some dogs are more susceptible than others. Dogs who have not been vaccinated as well as dogs that have not yet reached full maturity are the most susceptible to it. Foxes, wolves, and other members of the canine family are all susceptible to it.

There are some breeds that are more susceptible to contracting it than others. These breeds include Rottweiler’s, German Shepherds, Staffordshire Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, and Dobermans.

How Is Parvovirus Transmitted?

The number one place where parvovirus comes from is from a dog’s feces, or in layman’s terms, their poop. It can be transmitted by any person, animal, or even inanimate object that comes into contact with a dog’s feces. This virus can survive on inanimate objects such as toys, carpets, food dishes and other items for several months, which is why it is so dangerous. The good thing is that dogs can immunized towards the parvovirus.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Thankfully, diagnosing parvovirus is pretty simple. You can take your dog to the vet and they will use something called an ELISA test kit. This kit can detect the parvovirus in your dog’s stool and it only takes around 15 minutes.

How Can Parvo Be Prevented?

The best way to make sure that your dog never gets parvo is by vaccinating them. This is a vaccine that should always be administered for puppies. A good 5 in 1 vaccination is the best way to go. Of course, also making sure that your dog does not eat feces is another big prevention method. Cleaning up after your dog, especially if it is not yet house trained is another way to help prevent it.

How Is Parvo Treated?

The number one thing to keep in mind here is that treatments are not always successful, so the best treatment is a preventative one, or in other words, the vaccination. Generally speaking, dogs with parvo need to be kept at the vet’s for 5 to 7 days, given lots of very strong antibiotics to kill the virus, and kept on intravenous fluids to counteract the dehydration caused by the severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Once again, even with great care from the vet, this disease can often be fatal, so prevention, quick treatment, and the experience of a good veterinarian are essential to the survival of your dog.


Parvovirus is very contagious and very deadly, so make sure to follow all of our tips because the life of your dog may depend on it. We have also covered dog flu here.