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Everything You Need to Know About Parvo in Dogs

Dogs are susceptible to certain diseases just like humans. The difference is that a person can go to the doctor on his own, while a canine depends on its owner to take it to the vet.

It is very important to be aware of our pet’s health because although some diseases heal on their own and are not usually dangerous, others can represent a great risk to its life. Among these diseases, we will talk about canine parvovirus in this article.

Parvo in Dogs

What Is Parvovirus In Dogs?

It is one of the most serious viruses that dogs can suffer from. Parvovirus can be deadly in any breed of dog, especially puppies.

This disease was born in 1967 and quickly became known in various parts of the world due to how dangerous it was for dogs. This virus is very resistant and difficult to eliminate.

It is extremely contagious and can be found on any surface or object already contaminated with this virus, such as toys, food and water bowls, clothing, etc.

Parvo affects certain cells in the body of this animal, causing damage to the bone marrow and intestinal tract. This virus affects both puppies and unvaccinated dogs regardless of their age.

How Is Parvovirus Transmitted?

Contrary to what many people think, parvovirus is not transmitted through the air. This highly contagious virus is usually spread through the feces of infected dogs. Remember that these animals can defecate in many places where certain objects are exposed to trace feces.

That is why a dog can get this disease just by licking the ground or any object exposed to the virus, such as toys, clothes, bowls, etc. Keep in mind that even a human could infect a dog with parvovirus simply by coming into contact with another infected dog.

For example, if you pet a dog with parvovirus and then touch a healthy dog, you are likely to infect it.

Several studies have confirmed that 90% of dogs that have come into contact with this virus will suffer from this disease at some point in their lives if they have not been vaccinated.

What Symptoms Does a Dog with Parvovirus Present?

Parvovirus is highly contagious in these animals and can become extremely dangerous if not treated early. We don’t want our dogs to be at risk of dying simply because we are unaware of the symptoms of this virus.

Why is it important to know each of the symptoms? A dog with parvovirus can exhibit similar symptoms to canines suffering from other diseases.

If your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, it is important that you take it to the vet immediately:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Fever 
  • Vomiting
  • A strange odor emanating from the canine
  • Bloody diarrhea 
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration

Now that you know the most common symptoms that a dog with parvovirus can present, it is essential that you take your pet to the vet immediately when you detect any of them.

Even though it could be a minor health problem, you should still prevent any unfortunate situation. Parvovirus will not go away on its own; it requires immediate veterinary attention.

Who Can Get Parvovirus from a Dog?

Many people who have infected dogs are afraid because they think their pets are going to infect them, but that is not the case. Keep in mind that humans have their own version of parvovirus, and dogs have their own.

This means that an infected animal of this type cannot transmit the virus to a human and vice versa.

Now, it is important to remember that if you come into contact with an infected dog, you could infect another healthy dog ​​simply by touching it, as the virus will remain on your clothes or even your hands until you wash thoroughly.

On the other hand, cats can get canine parvovirus. These animals can suffer from a disease called feline panleukopenia which is actually a type of parvovirus. However, although a dog can infect a cat with this virus, the feline parvovirus cannot be transmitted to a dog.

Parvovirus Stages

All viral infections develop in several stages. The parvovirus has the same, and they are the following: 

Exposure to Infection

The first stage occurs when the dog is exposed to the virus either through the feces of an infected dog or through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. Parvovirus is so infectious that even a small amount of fecal material can affect the canine.


The incubation period for parvovirus is between 3 and 7 days after the virus has come into contact with the dog.

The virus will seek out rapidly dividing cells in the body and multiply itself to attack other parts, such as the cells lining the small intestine or bone marrow. Parvovirus can also infect the heart, affecting some of its functions, but it is more common in puppies than adults.

First Symptoms

Remember that between 5 and 8 days after being infected, a dog may begin to show the first symptoms. These symptoms may vary depending on the canine’s organism.

Disease Development

Once the incubation period has passed, the virus has already taken over the parts of the body that it needed to infect.

The attack of parvovirus in the body of a canine will affect the white blood cells that are responsible for protecting the body from viruses and bacteria.

However, as there is a reduction in white blood cells, the canine’s body will not be able to protect itself against the virus, so it can easily affect the GI (Gastrointestinal Tract).

This is serious since this structure will not be able to prevent the movement of bacteria to the intestine or absorb nutrients, which in turn will cause the symptoms that we have already mentioned above.

Treatment and Recovery

Treatment of a dog infected with this virus should begin early (as soon as this disease is detected). Once treatment has started, the animal should slowly begin to show improvement.

Keep in mind that the recovery process for a dog with parvovirus is quite slow, so it is important to complete treatment and be patient. In addition, the recovery time also depends on how severely the parvovirus affects the canine.

How to Prevent My Dog ​​from Being Affected By This Virus?

The most important step to prevent this disease in your dog is to vaccinate it when it is a puppy. A large percentage of canines affected by parvovirus end up dying because they were not vaccinated.

Keep in mind that you should give not only your pet one vaccine but also several throughout its life. That is why it is important that you consult your veterinarian for more information.

In case your pet is infected with this virus, the most effective treatment consists of fluid therapy. A canine with parvovirus needs to be hydrated at all times, especially if it has lost its appetite. Infected canines are usually hydrated intravenously or orally.

The treatment could vary depending on the severity of the virus, so you should not medicate your pet without first consulting a veterinarian.