Canine Parvovirus


Canine Parvovirus is a very serious and deadly, highly contagious, viral pathogen affecting canine patients worldwide. The virus is very difficult to kill, and, if not cleaned appropriately, can stay in the environment for months, infecting numerous animals. The virus can also be spread from other animals or carried on clothing or shoes. On contact with the cells in the mouth, the virus can spread very rapidly using the lymphatic system and bloodstream infecting numerous cells throughout the body. It destroys the inside lining of the intestine.

History and Clinical Signs

Animals become sick within 4-14 days of exposure, while some animals can be infected but not showing clinical signs. It can infect dogs anywhere from 6 weeks to 2 years of age and even older if not properly vaccinated against the virus.

Animals Usually Present With:

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite to not eating
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea

If left without treatment, canine parvovirus kills more than 70% of the patients that become ill.


There is an in-clinic test specifically for parvovirus. Other diagnostic testing include full blood work including a CBC/Chemistry along with abdominal imaging to rule out other potential causes of clinical signs or secondary conditions related to the virus.


Requires aggressive supportive care including fluid therapy, antibiotics, antiemetic (anti-nausea medications), and nutritional support

  • Hospitalization is required for most parvoviral infections
  • Hospitalization can last anywhere from 48 hours to 7 days depending on how debilitating the patient is on presentation
  • If hospitalization is unavailable, aggressive outpatient treatment is implemented


The biggest preventative mechanism is appropriate vaccination. All dogs need the canine parvovirus vaccine at least 2 weeks apart. As puppies, usually we start at 8 weeks of age and administer every 2-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. If they are older than 16 weeks of age, then they just need to have the two vaccines given 2-4 weeks apart. Puppies/dogs should stay away from dog parks and unvaccinated (or unknown) dogs until they have had a few rounds of vaccinations. Disinfection of the canine parvovirus is also key using a bleach solution – a 3% dilution; (half cup per gallon of water) prepared daily and applied after removal of organic matter (all dirt).