How do dogs get parvovirus? Dog
owners have most likely heard of the term “PARVO” when they’re in the process
of getting shots for a new dog or puppy. Parvo is a fatal and highly contagious
disease among canines. An infected puppy can be saved if symptoms are caught
early and treatment is administered accordingly. However, parvovirus is also
costly to treat.
If your puppy catches parvo, he
has better chances of surviving if he’s hospitalized. The mortality rate for
untreated cases of parvo is a worrisome 91%. The virus moves fast and is
comparable to panleukopenia in cats. Parvo can cause death in puppies within
2-3 days after first symptoms begin to appear. It’s very important that you
seek medical attention immediately if your puppy exhibits signs of parvo.
So how exactly how do dogs get
parvo and what are the symptoms? Parvo is transmitted through contact with an
infected dog or contact with contaminated feces, surfaces, and even people.
Puppies can pick up the virus from contaminated food and water bowls, leashes,
kennel surfaces, or by being handled by people who’ve had contact with infected
How do dogs catch parvo? Dogs and
puppies love to sniff, lick, and explore their surroundings. If your puppy
hasn’t had the parvo vaccination and is exposed to an infected dog or surface,
the risk of catching parvo is very high. Parvovirus is highly resistant to
heat, humidity, and cold for long periods of time, which is what makes it so
Parvovirus Known Symptoms
Parvo may either be intestinal or
cardiac. Intestinal CPV is the most common form of parvo in dogs, whereas a
canine’s ability to absorb nutrients is severely affected. Early symptoms
• Loss of appetite
• Lethargy/ weakness
• Anorexia/ weight loss
• Pale gums
Within 48-72 hours, symptoms may
• Bloody diarrhea
• Abdominal pain
Cardiac CPV almost always results
in sudden death, as the virus destroys the heart muscles. The infected puppy
will experience difficulty in breathing due to accumulated fluid in the lungs.
This form of parvovirus is extremely rare, however, thanks largely to the
availability of parvo vaccines.
If you notice any of the early
signs of parvovirus in your puppy, you’d want to consult the vet immediately.
It’s also imperative that you call ahead to your vet and relay your suspicions
that it might be parvo. This will give the clinic time to isolate other dogs in
the clinic to prevent the infection from further spreading.
The vet will make a parvovirus
diagnosis based on blood, stool, and additional diagnostic tests. At present,
there is no known cure for parvovirus. A dog that has been infected will
undergo intensive care for the treatment of symptoms including dehydration,
diarrhea, and vomiting.
As parvo weakens the immune
system, there is a risk of secondary bacterial infections. The vet will monitor
for additional complications and may likely administer antibiotics to deal with
possible infections. He will also ensure that the puppy receives proper
nutrition through fluid therapy.
Survival rates for hospitalized
cases is 68% to 92%. Puppies that pull
through the first three days have a good chance of making a full recovery.
Recovery times vary, but on average, a puppy will take about one week to fully
Parvovirus is deadly to canines,
but the good news is that it’s preventable. Here are some important reminders
to protect dogs, especially puppies, from the disease.
1. Vaccinate your pet.
Puppies should be given parvo
vaccinations according to schedule, usually at 8, 12, and 16 weeks. All dogs in
your household that’s older than one year can further strengthen immunity
against the virus through booster shots, as recommended by your vet. The
vaccine is essential for nursing dogs as well, as they pass crucial antibodies
to puppies in the first few weeks after birth.
2. Minimize socialization for puppies.
Socializing your dog at an early
age is extremely important, but for younger puppies, it’s best to minimize
contact with random dogs or exposure to public places. If you’re going to
socialize your puppy, do it with dogs you know and in a more controlled
3. Keep dogs away from fecal waste.
When taking them for a walk outside, keep a close watch on your dogs to make sure they don’t sniff or go near other dogs’ or animals’ fecal waste. If your dog or a neighbor’s dog has been infected, you need to conduct a thorough cleaning using bleach, indoors and outdoors, to prevent the virus from spreading.
Can dogs get parvo if vaccinated?
Yes, but the risk of catching the virus is reduced dramatically for dogs that have been vaccinated, compared to unvaccinated dogs.
What age do dogs get parvo?
Canine parvovirus or CPV is a highly contagious virus that can be caught by all dogs. Unvaccinated puppies six weeks to six months old are the ones that are most at risk.
Can dogs get parvo twice?
Yes, but it’s extremely rare for a dog to be infected by parvo twice. A dog that has successfully recovered from parvo would have developed immunity against the virus.
Can dogs get parvo after shots?
Yes, but the chances get even lower as they complete their full parvo shots.
Can dogs get parvo at any age?
Yes. Puppies are the most at risk but the disease can be caught by older dogs as well.
Can dogs get parvo more than once?
Rarely. If it happens, the
infection would likely be caused by a different or a wilder strain of the
Why do dogs get parvo? Dogs and puppies get parvo when they are exposed to the virus either through contact with an infected dog or surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Parvo is fatal to canines, especially puppies but it’s a disease that can be prevented through the administration of vaccines and preventing contact with sick or unvaccinated dogs.