canine parvovirusCanine parvovirus is considered a core vaccination for dogs, and you have probably heard it mentioned briefly during a pet’s wellness appointment. Some of us know a bit about the disease, or may even know someone who has lost a puppy or adult dog to canine parvovirus.

Because parvo is so prevalent, and so deadly, it’s important for pet owners to be aware of the specifics surrounding its symptoms, how it’s contracted and treated and, most importantly, how you can prevent it from becoming a reality for your pet.


Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and transmitted through contact with an infected dog, an infected dog’s feces or belongings, and even people who have come into contact with an infected dog.

Parvo works by attacking a dog’s white blood cells, including those that line the intestinal tract, bone marrow, and heart muscle. The symptoms of parvo generally appear within 3-7 days after infection and include:

  • Severe vomiting
  • Foul smelling diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

Cause For Concern

The persistent vomiting and diarrhea associated with parvo can quickly cause a pet to become dangerously dehydrated, and the damage to the intestines can result in septic shock. This is of particular concern in puppies due to their weaker immune systems.

Because there is no cure for parvo, treatment consists of taking measures to keep the animal hydrated, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary conditions or infections from occurring. Puppies are more susceptible to parvo, but unvaccinated adult dogs are also at risk.

Preventing Canine Parvovirus

As with most medical conditions, prevention is always preferable to treatment. Canine parvovirus is preventable through the administration of a safe and effective vaccine.

If you suspect that your pet has parvo or has been exposed to parvo, please bring him or her in to see us immediately. It’s important to keep infected pets quarantined from other pets, and to practice good hand washing protocol at all times.

At Volunteer Veterinary Hospital, we recommend that puppies receive their first round of vaccinations between 6-8 weeks. Adult dogs should also be vaccinated to prevent the contraction and spread of parvo. If you aren’t sure if your pet has been vaccinated, give us a call to schedule an appointment.