What You Need to Know about Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus, or “parvo” for short, is a dangerous disease. All dogs are susceptible to parvo, but because it’s easily prevented, parvo most commonly sickens puppies and unvaccinated adults.

How Do Dogs Contract Parvo?

Highly contagious, parvo is a resilient virus that can survive indoors or outdoors for up to a year regardless of the temperature or humidity. Parvo spreads via direct exposure between dogs or exposure to the feces or vomit of an infected dog. Dogs can become infected from interacting with other dogs, playing with contaminated toys, ingesting contaminated food, digging in the dirt, drinking from a public fountain or puddle, or frequenting areas with other dogs.

Canine Parvovirus Symptoms

Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow, resulting in symptoms including:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
Infected dogs become severely dehydrated, putting them in a critical condition. Untreated, parvo can lead to sepsis and death.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Parvo

We can quickly diagnose parvo with an inexpensive fecal ELISA test. Most dogs recover with prompt treatment, which includes supportive care to manage symptoms and keep a dog strong, such as:
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Anti-diarrhea and anti-vomiting medications
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics

How to Prevent Your Dog from Contracting Parvo

Fortunately, parvovirus is easily prevented with proper vaccination. At six to eight weeks, puppies should receive their vaccinations and begin a regular schedule of booster shots every three to four weeks. Adult dogs typically require a booster every few years, or immunity can be estimated with a blood test. If your puppy hasn’t completed her rounds of vaccinations or your dog is overdue for a booster, avoid places with other dogs like dog parks, doggy daycare, and pet stores.
The vaccination for parvovirus is typically included in a dog’s regular schedule of core vaccinations. If you’re not sure whether your dog has been vaccinated for parvo or is due for a booster, we welcome you to contact Tanglewilde Veterinary Clinic in Houston today.