Free shipping on orders over €15

Parvovirus in Dogs – What it is, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Parvovirus en Perros – Qué es, síntomas, diagnóstico y tratamiento

Lobo Azul |

Parvovirus is a common disease in dogs, so veterinarians are more than used to treating it. It is very serious, since the animal's chances of survival are around 50% .

It must be prevented by all means and for that there is nothing better than knowing it thoroughly, knowing what it is, how it is spread, what symptoms it causes, etc., with the aim of being able to go to the vet as soon as we suspect that our dog has it.

What is canine parvovirus?

Parvo, as it is known colloquially, is an infectious disease caused by a virus that spreads extremely easily . Additionally, it is very lethal, which is a problem that veterinarians around the world have to deal with.

It affects puppies from four weeks of age, hence the importance of vaccinating when necessary, and also adult dogs that are immunosuppressed due to a health problem, so there is no need to give a booster dose every year.

There are breeds that are more likely than others to suffer from it, such as the Rottweiler , the German Shepherd or the Doberman , so prevention efforts must be redoubled if we have one of these animals at home.

How is parvovirus spread?

One of the problems with parvovirus is that it is very contagious. In fact, it has several ways to infect our pets, the first being intrauterine, so it is possible that if the mother harbors this virus, she can transmit it to the puppies.

Another route is the mouth and nose . If a dog has oral or nasal contact with an infected animal, it will become infected, and the same thing happens if it smells or licks the feces of carrier dogs , which also infect objects and surfaces.

Thus, if we think of an infected dog in a park, it is easy to imagine the number of animals it can infect, since dogs smell each other, do the same with the feces of their peers, lick each other, etc.

Between five and ten days after infection, the parvovirus begins to act. It focuses, above all, on the stomach and heart, although it also causes inflammation and infection of other organs.

What are your symptoms?

It can produce a huge variety of symptoms, and hence the importance of going to our trusted veterinarian when we notice that the puppy is apathetic and does not want to eat.

The most typical are bloody diarrhea and vomiting . Due to both, dehydration occurs that is very dangerous in puppies, and sometimes hypovolemic shock occurs due to blood loss, so that the heart is not able to pump enough blood and the death of the animal occurs.

Pain when palpating the abdomen and fever may also occur, although the most common symptom is diarrhea sprinkled with blood.

This diarrhea and blood are due to the parvovirus attacking the intestine, generating lesions that give these characteristic symptoms and favoring the appearance of infections that must be treated.

It is possible that the symptoms are very variable, since they depend a lot on the age of the animal, whether it has had any vaccinations, the viral load to which it has been exposed and even the breed, since as we have seen, some are more prone than others. others.


In most cases, experienced veterinarians do not need to do any diagnostic tests to know that they have parvo, but to confirm their suspicions they can do a blood test.

The results will give an alteration of leukocytes and lymphocytes, which are our body's defenses that fight against viruses and bacteria.

There is another simpler test that works by taking a stool sample and is quite accurate from the eighth day of infection, since before that it can give false positives.

Furthermore, while the animal is admitted, more tests must be done to see how the body is reacting and to check that the virus has not passed to the lungs, heart or spinal cord.


There is no treatment that can kill the virus right now, so veterinarians treat the animal so that its body can overcome it, alleviating the symptoms and making the dog as strong as possible when it comes to dealing with parvo .

The first thing is to stop dehydration, which is very dangerous and would kill the dog in a few hours. For this purpose, drippers with serum are used, through which the medications can be dosed without having to disturb the puppy.

Antibiotics are supplied through this catheter, because as we have already seen, bacteria are released from intestinal wounds that can end up in the blood, causing widespread infection and death.

A dog in this state does not eat and the fight against the virus lasts several days, so part of the treatment is feeding through a tube, which can go directly to the stomach or a vein, depending on what the professional assesses.

With the most serious cases, blood transfusions are also used, thus alleviating the loss that occurs due to bloody diarrhea. This technique has been used for some time in dogs, so it is completely safe and veterinarians know very well how to proceed.

Finally, a nasogastric tube, in addition to serving to feed the dog, also controls stomach pain, making it easier for the animal to start eating on its own as soon as possible, which is key to recovery.

Can Parvovirus be prevented?

Yes, it can be prevented, although not 100% as with any infection. In any case, if we take preventive measures and the animal becomes infected, what we can expect is that the disease will pass without as many symptoms and with a much higher chance of survival.

The best way to prevent this disease is with vaccination . We will ask our trusted veterinarian and we will pay attention to the deadlines regardless of what we read on the Internet.

The veterinarians in each locality are the ones who best know when this disease attacks in their area, so they are the ones who must set the deadlines to give the vaccines at the right time.

Another measure is to prevent the puppy from going outside until it has the complete vaccination schedule, or at least do so where there are no other adult dogs that are immune to the disease, but that may have the virus in them. the organism.

Many times we have heard that puppies should be carried in your arms, preventing them from touching the ground, and the reason is the parvovirus, which can wait in the feces that an animal has left in any corner.

With these measures it is very difficult for our puppy to become infected, avoiding enormous suffering, since it is a complicated disease that can kill him, and if it does not do so, he will have to spend several days at the vet fighting and creating enormous anxiety due to the uncertainty.

Other articles on canine health that may interest you:

Previous Next