Parvovirus and How to Keep Your Pups From Getting It

puppy with their parents

Animals have their own set of viruses to avoid, but unlike us, they aren’t dodging something like COVID-19. Instead, various domestic animals are exposed to something we know of as parvovirus.

There is a parvovirus for almost every species, and each has its distinct symptoms. However, in this article, we will discuss the parvovirus found in dogs. We will explain the nature of the canine parvovirus, how it infects dogs, and how you can avoid it.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is a dangerous disease among dogs. The start of this virus started almost out of the blue in 1978. No one knew how it began, and veterinarians just discovered that specific puppies and adult dogs were dying of the same symptoms.

Upon further studies, they found that a virus is doing all these things, with a very high mortality rate. It caused a worldwide epidemic, affecting thousands of pets and causing many to die. Eventually, a vaccine was found to combat the virus.


Much like any virus that exists in the world, it has its own set of symptoms. The most common symptoms of canine parvovirus are:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • fever
  • Bloody diarrhea

There are differences between canine and feline parvovirus, especially regarding symptoms, but both are considered to be quite fatal when not given appropriate care.


There are many ways parvovirus can infect dogs. However, it mainly infects young pups, with infection rates reaching over 90% for unvaccinated puppies. On the other hand, adult dogs seem to be impervious to such a disease, with much lower infection rates (less than 10%).

Parvovirus is transmitted through dog feces, in where a pup or a dog sniffs it, and the virus enters through their nostrils. However, it can also be transmitted through physical and sexual contact among pets. Additionally, adult dogs without symptoms can also transmit the virus in the wild, making this a highly transmittable disease.

small puppy



The most common way to prevent parvovirus is through vaccination.

Puppies initially get their defenses against parvo from their mother. This is why many pups that are at least one to two months old don’t get the virus. However, these defenses eventually fade away, and without vaccination, the pup is very vulnerable to infection.

Most vets offer vaccination against parvovirus, especially among puppies. It’s important that you bring your puppy to the vet once they reach two months of age to get vaccinated. Do not walk them or let them out of your home if they haven’t finished both of their vaccinations. Furthermore, they should not have contact with other dogs in the neighborhood.

Avoid giving your puppy toys from other dogs as well if they haven’t been vaccinated. Parvovirus can live for a very long time on certain surfaces. Sometimes they can even live for years.


One of the common reasons why pups get parvovirus is through transportation. Some dog owners tend to transport their pups in unsafe ways. The only safe way to transport your pups is through a professional dog transport service. Ensure that this particular service disinfects their vehicle and their containers for dogs.

Moreover, ensure that such a service keeps track of each service they do. A tracker can certainly help them warn you if they have transported a pet who had the virus. Make sure your pet’s transportation is safe before anything else, so they don’t get the virus while in transit.

What to Do If Your Pet Gets Infected?

If your pet shows the symptoms indicated above, they must get veterinarian care immediately. You cannot take care of your pet that has parvovirus, nor is there a cure for it. The best thing you can do to combat the virus is to keep your pet hydrated and fed, but they are likely to avoid your attempts.

Under vet care, your pet can receive IV fluids to ensure that they stay hydrated. However, this does not mean that they would survive. Mortality rates depend entirely on the duration of the virus and if they are under vet care or not. Under vet care and during the onset of the virus, survival rates can reach up to 70%. However, late vet care can decrease your pet’s overall survival rate to 20%.

Pay attention to your pet whenever you can. The very first shows of parvo are diarrhea and lethargy. Make sure you can get them to the vet by then.

Parvovirus has claimed the lives of many dogs. Don’t let it happen to your pet. Protect them as much as possible from this harmful virus.

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