Parvo in dogs – How to prevent and treat parvo?

Parvo in dogs

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease of young puppies. Puppies are mostly affected between 6 weeks to 6 months of age. You need to take some precautions to prevent this disease. Here I am going to provide you with a detailed guide about parvo in dogs and how you can avoid this disease in your favorite pal.

Parvo in dogs in 2020

Canine parvovirus has different strains, but the highly contagious and fatal disease is caused by canine parvovirus 2(2,2a,2b,2c). Canine parvovirus is a DNA non enveloped virus that requires rapidly dividing cells for replication. It evolved for over ten years and became pandemic in the 1970s.  The virus will begin to shed in the faeces after 4,5 days of exposure.

The spectrum of myocardial disease in individuals with canine parvovirus is broad, and they suffer from canine parvovirus myocarditis. A dog will die due to congestive heart failure.

Breed predilections

Some breeds are more prone to canine parvovirus than others. Here are the lists of the following:

Rottweilers, Doberman, Labrador retrievers, and german shepherds are considered to be more susceptible to canine parvovirus than other breeds of dog.

Mean Age of Infection

The disease is most commonly seen between 6 weeks to 6 months of age and most common in younger, but the vaccination has dramatically decreased the incidence of illness.

Parvo symptoms

Some typical symptoms of the disease will lead you towards the diagnosis of disease.

  • There will be loss of energy, lethargy, loss of appetite and profuse diarrhea with rapid, severe weight loss.
  • Dehydration with rapid heart rate.
  • Moist tissues of mouth and eyes. Eyes may be pale red or yellow due to blood-filled within the vessel or due to jaundice.
  • There will be bloody diarrhea with smell due to the sloughing of the intestine.
  • Vomiting
  • Intussusception is the folding of one segment of the intestine into another section.
  • When your veterinarian palpates the abdomen, there will be abdominal pain.’
  • Sometimes the body temperature will become lower due to vomiting and diarrhea.

What are the risk factors of the parvovirus?

  • Breed predilection.
  • Drug therapy will lead to immunosuppression.
  • Breeding kennels with a large number of puppies and incomplete hygienic measures.
  • Vaccination failure and incomplete vaccination procedures.

Diagnosis of parvovirus

Dog with incomplete vaccination protocol and unvaccinated dogs are the most susceptible. Veterinarians can diagnose the disease with the help of virus isolation, Polymerase chain reaction. There will be some pathological findings that need to be considered while treating parvovirus. Your dog will have a thick intestinal wall, and there will be the presence of blood in the stomach and intestine. Intranuclear viral inclusion bodies are seen in the epithelial cells and throughout the squamous cells of the upper GIT tract. Histological examination is usually an essential diagnostic factor in determining the diagnosis of disease.

Steps for Health Care

  • Proper hospitalization for your dog is a must
  • Intravenous fluid therapy for nutrient losses should be necessary.
  • Colloid therapy for the loss of protein in diarrhea is the priority.
  • Transfusion with plasma and hyperimmune serum in case of more severe infection is a way to go for your dog.
  • The activity should be restricted because the virus will continue to shed  4,5 days after exposure

What are diet changes during parvo infection?

  • Food and water should not be given with vomiting. Proper diet and water should be given 24 hours after vomiting.
  • You can use feeding tubes for your dog. Early enteral nutrition may improve clinical outcomes.
  • Providing nutrition through the parenteral route should be the priority.
  • Glutamine supplementation has been given to improve the health of intestinal cells
  • A proper diet of brands like Nestle Purina should be your priority.

How to treat parvovirus?

  • Always consult with your veterinarian for the treatment of parvovirus.
  • In order to stop vomiting, antiemetics like metoclopramide can be given.
  • H2 blockers like ranitidine and famotidine are the drugs to use by your veterinarian. They regulate the gastric motility and prevent your dog from developing a gastric ulcer
  • Antibiotics like 3rd generation cephalosporins are the way to go in case of parvovirus infection because they have significant efficacy against gram-negative bacteria, and the dog is severely affected by a secondary bacterial infection in canine parvovirus 2.
  • Intravenous Fluid therapy with a Lactated ringer solution will be necessary because there will be a loss of sodium and potassium. In the case of diarrhea, we mostly use a lactated ringer solution to counter metabolic acidosis.
  • Activated protein C and interferon will be treatment protocols in the future.
  • A veterinarian can also administer fluid under the skin or into the abdominal cavity If the owner has financial constraints.
  • Surgery is an option If there is a problem of intussusception.

How to monitor patients?

  • There will be a chance of survival in case of parvovirus, but usually, the mortality may reach up to 30 percent
  • Immunity in canine parvovirus infection is longterm if the animal survives from infection.

How to prevent parvovirus infection?

  • Proper vaccination procedures are the way to go to prevent this disease.
  • Modified live vaccines should be used to minimize the effect of maternal antibodies because maternal antibodies are present in puppy blood for up to 18 weeks, and they will counter the influence of vaccines.
  • Breeds with high risks require a more extended vaccination protocol extending up to 22 weeks of age.

Possible complications

  • Sepsis
  • Presence of toxins in the blood known as endotoxemia
  • Shock
  • Folding of one segment of the intestine into another which is known as intussusception

Frequently asked questions about parvo in dogs

How can we identify parvo in our dogs?

Bloody diarrhea is usually the first clinical sign in the case of parvo Because parvovirus cause sloughing of the intestine, so diarrhea with blood and smell is an important clinical finding.

Can parvo kill my dog?

Yes, parvo can kill your dog because there is a loss of ions, and your dog will die due to dehydration.

What food can I use for my dog in the case of parvo?

Boiled chicken and rice are the most used feed in the case of parvovirus infection.

Which procedures should be followed if my dog has vomited in parvo?

Intravenous fluid therapy is an essential procedure.


So parvo is a contagious disease, and you need to take preventive measures to save your dog from this disease. I hope you like the article parvo in dogs, feel free to ask any questions. You can also read some interesting information here. Here is a guide about Shih Tzu with a sensitive stomach.


Dr. Louise Cosgrove

Dr. Louise Cosgrove

veterinarian for 10+ years currently running a veteran house and I am here to serve my knowledge over the internet.

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