What Are the Early Signs of Parvo?
Parvo symptoms can worsen quickly, and the disease can be fatal. If your dog shows any of the following early signs of parvo, see your veterinarian immediately:
Key takeaway Canine Parvovirus is a serious condition that affects young puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Knowing what the symptoms of parvo are can help you and your veterinarian act immediately to give your pup the medical attention they need. Taking preventative measures and promptly acting when your pet begins showing some of the symptoms of parvo in dogs, such as vomiting and diarrhea, can protect your dog and prevent the disease from spreading.
If you’ve had a puppy before or are considering getting one in the future, you’ve probably heard of and been warned about parvo. Parvo gets a lot of talk around it and while you may have heard of it, you might be wondering what are the symptoms of parvo in dogs and how you can treat it.
Canine parvovirus, often referred to as parvo, is a highly contagious virus that commonly affects puppies. However, the disease can pose a risk to unvaccinated adult dogs as well.
While parvo can be a life-threatening disease, knowing the prevention strategies, signs, and symptoms are key to making sure your pup remains healthy and safe. Common symptoms and signs that your dog may be suffering from parvovirus can include diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting, depression, dehydration, and if left untreated, can result in septic shock and death.
If you’re looking to ease the worries you have for your pup, we’ve got you covered.
Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and most commonly affects young pups under four months of age and unvaccinated dogs.
Canine parvovirus is a relatively new virus in dogs, with some of the first cases and discussions about the disease dating back to the 1970s. The virus can be found in essentially any environment, living in soil for up to a year, but before you panic, a number of other causes can lead to a puppy actually contracting the virus, like your pet’s immune system.
When a dog contracts parvovirus, they can be contagious within 4-5 days of the virus entering their system, often before the incubation period has been completed and your dog begins to show signs and symptoms. Your pup will remain contagious throughout the time they are sick and for around 10 days after they’ve received treatment.
Dogs can contract the virus by coming into oral or nasal contact with infected feces or by coming into contact with objects or an environment that has been contaminated with parvo. The virus can remain viable in a contaminated environment for over 6 months and be transmitted to many animals.1
The last thing any new puppy owner or dog breeder wants to hear is a diagnosis of parvo. Parvo in puppies is unfortunately a common disease with deadly consequences, which is why it is important for anyone dealing with puppies on a regular basis to be aware of the symptoms of parvo and what to do about it.
Parvo in puppies is caused by the canine parvovirus. This virus is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact with an infected dog or by indirect contact with a contaminated object. Your puppy is exposed to the parvovirus every time he sniffs, licks, or consumes infected feces. Indirect transmission occurs when a person who has recently been exposed to an infected dog touches your puppy, or when a puppy encounters a contaminated object, like a food or water bowl, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. That’s why it’s so important to use a parvo disinfectant.
The Merck Veterinary Manual classifies the virus as a disease of the stomach and small intestines, as this is where the virus does the most damage. The virus prefers to infect the small intestine, where it destroys cells, impairs absorption, and disrupts the gut barrier. Parvo in puppies also affects the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, and in some cases can also affect the heart.
Puppies ages six weeks to six months are the most susceptible to parvo. Puppies younger than six weeks old still retain some of their mother’s antibodies, assuming that the dam received her full series of parvo vaccinations. Puppies are vaccinated against parvo at approximately 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. They are vulnerable to the disease until they have received all three shots in their vaccination series, which means owners need to take extra precaution during this time to prevent their puppies from contracting the virus. Puppies should receive a dose of canine parvovirus vaccine between 14 and 16 weeks of age, regardless of how many doses they received earlier, to develop adequate protection.
The severity of parvo cases varies. The stress of weaning can lead to a more severe case of parvo n puppies, as stress weakens the immune system. A combination of parvo and a secondary infection or a parasite can also lead to a more severe case of parvo in puppies.
To top it off, certain breeds of dogs are at an increased risk of parvo:
Identifying Parvo Poop & Other Signs Of Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus (CPV or commonly referred to as “parvo”) is one of the most serious viruses that dogs can get. Thankfully, it is very preventable with proper vaccination.
This virus was discovered in the 1970s and rapidly became a serious threat to canine health. This is primarily because the virus is hard to kill, can live for a long time in the environment, is shed in large quantities by infected dogs, is highly contagious, and is often fatal without appropriate treatment. This is why the parvo vaccine is considered a core vaccine for puppies and dogs.
While the highly effective parvovirus vaccine has decreased the risk to properly vaccinated dogs, this disease is still widely prevalent, especially in puppies and poorly-vaccinated adolescent dogs.
Here’s everything you need to know about parvo in dogs—how to protect your dog from it, the signs of parvo you should look for, and what to do if you your dog is showing symptoms.0:02