How Do Dogs Get Parvo

How Do Dogs Get Parvo

Parvovirus infection is the most common virus that is found and developed in dogs in the United States.

What makes Parvovirus so common is how highly contagious the virus is and how difficult it is to kill this virus. In reality there is no cure for this virus; however, there are preventative measures that you can take as a pet owner to make sure that your pet is safe.

For instance, a vaccination for this disease is highly recommended and is one vaccine that should be given to your pet as a young puppy. Even though the vaccine does not cure the Parvovirus infection it helps with controlling the virus and helps prevent death.

There is little known about this virus; therefore, it is important to take the correct precautions and to educate yourself as a pet owner to make sure you are keeping your dog/puppy safe.

What is Parvovirus?

Parvovirus is an infection that is commonly found in dogs and especially in young puppies. This virus is highly contagious as it spreads from dog to dog by direct contact with their feces.

Since there is no direct cure for this virus it is life threatening and often leads to death of young puppies.

There are precautions you can take as a pet owner to make sure that you decrease the chances of your dog developing a parvovirus infection in their lifetime.

It is also important to keep in mind that dogs from pet stores, animal shelters, and breeding kennels are a higher risk with regards to developing this virus.

There are two types of a Parvovirus Infections:

The two Parvovirus infection can affect your dog in different ways.

Cardiac Parvovirus Infection – is known to cause cardiovascular and/or respiratory failure in dogs.

Although, this type of Parvovirus infection is less common in dogs, but if found it is most likely in really young puppies. This is because it usually transmitted when the mother is infected by the disease herself and when the puppy is still developing in the uterus.

This type of Parvovirus infection is the most dangerous because it targets the main muscle the “heart”. As a result, it makes it even more difficult to fight off the virus and decreases the strength of the immune system.

Unfortunately, with this type of virus in young puppies there is little to no signs of the virus being present. Therefore, it can come on suddenly and in most cases results in death.

However, if your dog and/or puppy survives there will be complications down the road later.

But, if you vaccinate your puppy at a young age the chances of them developing Cardiac Parvovirus Infection will decrease.

Intestinal Parvovirus – is most commonly known and is passed through oral contact of the virus. It is generally transmitted through feces and infected soil that has small traces of the virus in it.

Even uninfected dogs with limited contact can cause an immediate development of the virus.

It is spread by ingestion of the virus which goes into the bloodstream. The virus is then attaches itself to the cells and destroys the white cells and the tissues inside the intestines.

However, if the disease is caught immediately it can prevent death.

What Makes Parvovirus so Dangerous?

What makes a Parvovirus infection extremely dangerous is that there is no cure and it is really contagious.

Furthermore, because this virus attacks the white blood cells of the body (which protects the dog from infections) it makes it even more difficult for dogs to fight off the virus.

Symptoms of Parvovirus Infection:

There are many symptoms that you can see with your dog and/or puppy if they are being infected from a Parvovirus infection.

However, because this virus is an acute illness, symptoms will show signs within 3 to 7 days.

Here is a list of possible symptoms:

  • Weakness because of a decrease presence of white blood cells
  • Distinct odor later on
  • Low body temperatures
  • Pain and discomfort in the abdominal area
  • Heartbeat becomes fast paced
  • Mouth and eye dryness
  • Dehydration because of lack of fluid absorption
  • Affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients
  • Weakened immune system
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Drowsy
  • Diarrhea

How Do Dogs Get Parvo?

Parvovirus infection is highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact of an infected dog and/or indirectly through feces and/or an oral route.

The virus is most commonly known to be transmitted through pet stores, animal shelters, and breeding kennels.

This is because a Parvovirus infection is highly resistant and can survive for months at a time and can be stored and live in ground soil up to a year. It is even resistant towards most and almost all cleaning products and weather changes.

Therefore, if you dog get improper or no vaccination it is more likely for your pet to develop a Parvovirus infection.

In addition, certain breeds of dogs are more likely to develop this virus.

Some of the breeds include: Rottweiler’s, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs.

There is no evidence why these dogs are vulnerable towards this infection.

What is the Diagnoses of Parvovirus Infection?

When it comes with diagnosing if your dog or puppy is infected by a Parvovirus infection, it is important to be aware and educate yourself of what your veterinarian does and what he or she looks for. This way you can be more aware of the illness and catch the signs at the early stages.

Some of the diagnoses treatments that your veterinarian would include the following:

Physical Examination: this would consist of your veterinarian looking to see if there is dry gums, rapid heart rate, sunken eyes, drowsiness, weakness, concentrated urine, fever, low body temperature levels, weight loss, abdominal pain, and discomfort.

Biochemical Tests: a blood test that provides significant amounts of detailed information about your pet’s health.  Through a simple blood test, it can reveal elevated liver enzymes and electrolyte which are symptoms of a Parvovirus infection.

Urine Analysis: a urine sample can be taken from your dog or puppy and can be studied through its color and it can reveal elevated liver enzymes and electrolyte which can be symptoms towards a Parvovirus infection.

Abdominal Radiographs: is a specific x-ray that develops an image of the organs and the structures that are present in the belly area. Through this test, it can show signs of intestinal obstruction which can be caused by a Parvovirus infection.

Abdominal Ultrasounds: is a test that develops an image to see and examine organs in the abdominal area. Through this test, the veterinarian can see enlarged lymph nodes in the body and see if there is fluid that is filled in the intestines.

Blood Cell Count: through a blood cell count the veterinarian can see if there is a low white blood count. This will indicate that there is a possibility of the Parvovirus infection being present in your pet.

Vomit Sample: a vomit sample can be used and studied to see if there is a presence of the virus in the sample.

Preventing a Parvovirus Infection:

Since there is no cure for a Parvovirus infection it is important as a pet owner to take extra precautions and preventative measures when it comes to your pet.

Firstly, it is tremendously important to be up to date with the vaccinations. The first vaccine should be given at 6 to 8 weeks of age and the booster shot given four weeks after. Then another vaccine should be given at 16 to 20 weeks of age and another when your pet is a year old.

If your dog is an adult and has never been vaccinated they should complete the full vaccination process.

It is also important to take extra precautions when other dogs come into contact with your dog and your dog being in contact with other dogs.

In addition, it is also important to recognize that the only cleaning product that seems to work towards Parvovirus is Bleach, but it is safer just to throw out your dog’s toys and bedding.

Treatments for Parvovirus Infection:

There is no real cure for a Parvovirus infection; therefore many veterinarians focus on curing the symptoms, preventing the infection and the environments.

Intravenous fluid nutrition therapy is sometimes used for maintaining a dog’s normal body fluids if they have experienced diarrhea and/or dehydration as one of the symptoms of a Parvovirus infection. Medication may be given to help boost the immune system in your dog so they are strong enough to fight off the illness.

In addition, Pet Meds may be given to treat symptoms like vomiting and nausea. As a pet owner, you can find discount pet medications on Antibiotics also can be given to treat bacterial infections caused by the virus.

In the majority of the cases, the survival rate in dogs and puppies is 70% if diagnosed and treated quickly. In most cases, treatment requires your dog to be hospitalized for a few days. Moreover, it is important to understand that there is no cure for this illness which is why it is so important to make sure your dog and/or puppy goes through the vaccination process.

Management of a Parvovirus Infection:

After your dog and/or puppy have been treated for the Parvovirus infection it is important to take the right steps afterward to manage their health.

For instance, in most cases this virus will weaken the immune system; this means that your pet will be more prone towards getting sick and ill. Therefore, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian ways to help build up your dog’s immune system again.

It is also a good idea to choose food that is easy for your dog to digest to help with the recovery process.

In addition, your dog and/or puppy will be at risk for at least another two months. This is why it is important to put your dog into isolation during this time; which will protect your dog and other people’s pets.

It is important to clean and/or in some cases get rid of your dog’s toys, products and/or beddings. This is because it may have traces of the virus which means that your dog can be infected again.

The importance of telling other pet owners:

It is important and crucial to let your neighbors and friends that have dogs if your dog has been infected by the Parvovirus infection before.

This is because it will allow their dogs to avoid developing the disease by staying out of contact with your dog. In addition, you can share your knowledge about how to prevent the virus so they have a higher likelihood of their dog not attracting the illness.

Can Humans get the Parvovirus Infection?

Yes, humans can get and develop the Parvovirus infection called Parvovirus B19.

However, it is different from the virus that your dog can develop. This means you cannot get the virus from your dog and that also means your dog cannot get the virus from you.

Myths & the Truths about the Parvovirus Infection:

  • Myth – Adult dogs do not get the virus
  • Truth – Young dogs are more easily affected by the virus
  • Truth – The virus does not have a cure
  • Myth – Vaccines give 100% protection for your dogs (there is no cure just prevention)


The Parvovirus infection is extremely dangerous towards your dog if infected. Unfortunately, if not prevented and/or treated most dogs and/or puppies that have this virus which leads to death in most cases.

It is easily transmitted and it is almost impossible for kennels to not be exposed to this disease. Therefore, if you got your pet from a kennel it is even more important to stay cautious.

It is important to get your dog vaccinated as it is the safest and most effective prevention you can take as a pet owner. It is even recommended to vaccinate your puppy at a young age as they are more likely to develop this illness then.

If you have any concerns or question it is always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian.


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