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PARVOVIRUS

Canine Parvovirus is an extremely contagious viral disease, which if left untreated, quickly becomes life-threatening. Parvovirus is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their faeces and can be especially severe in puppies which are not yet protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination.


Parvovirus has two very distinct presentations, one a cardiac and the other an intestinal form. The most common signs of the intestinal form are dysentery and severe vomiting.


The cardiac form shows as respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies. Treatment will usually demand isolation to prevent the spread of the virus and in most case veterinary hospitalisation as blood plasma transfusions and other intensive care management may be needed along with Intravenous fluids and medications to control vomiting and diarrhoea and to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Parvovirus dogs with parvoviruscan affect dogs of all ages, statiscally most cases occur in puppies between 6 to 20 weeks old.

Parvovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted by animal, person or inanimate object which comes into contacted with an infected dog's feces.

With extreme resistance, the virus can survive in the environment for months, and can survive on inanimate objects such as dog bowls, shoes, clothing and flooring. Parvovirus is also resistant to many disinfectants.


The most effective disinfectant is household bleach made to a 1:32 dilution. The bleach must be left on the contaminated surface for 20 minutes before being rinsed.

Death can reach 91% with untreated cases.

Canine parvovirus will not infect humans.

Parvovirus is a virus which quickly results in death if left undiagnosed and untreated, it has a distinctive smell in latter development and can be transmitted by fecal contact of even inanimate objects several months after having made the original contact.

It was in the early 1970's when the virus was first described and now is commonly called PARVO.


Parvovirus will attack rapidly reproducing cells such as those lining the gastrointestinal tract and also attacks the white blood cells.


Unfortunately, when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscles and subsequently creates lifelong heart problems.

Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent septicemia and other bacterial complications, which are a common cause of death.


With treatment, the outcome depends on factors such as the virulence of the specific strain of parvovirus, the age and immune status of the dog, and how quickly treatment is started. Most puppies which are under good veterinary care will recover without complications.

To correctly diagnose Parvovirus, veterinarians will look at clinical signs and laboratory testing. The Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test is a  common test for parvovirus. The ELISA test kit is used to detect parvovirus in a dog’s stool, and takes about 15 minutes.


Because this test is not 100% sensitive or specific, the veterinarian may use additional tests and bloodwork to confirm diagnosis.


The best way to prevent Parvovirus is to be vacinated and be up to date on all boosters. Some vacines will cover several illnesses with a single dose.         

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So, what is Parvovirus or Parvo as it’s commonly known?

The virus is officially known as Parvovirus, the disease caused by the virus is commonly called Parvo.

The virus first appeared clinically in 1978, and the effects were sever, with an epidemic in dogs of all ages.

Since the virus was ‘new’ at that time, no dogs had been exposed or vaccinated, since the vaccine didn't exist at the time, dogs of all ages died from the infection.  

The virus can adapt over time, something that is common to most virus types, and other strains of the virus have appeared since 1978. The best protection came when vaccinations were available and managed vaccinations began to be administered.

Canine Parvovirus is believed to have been a mutation from the Parvovirus, also known as Feline Distemper virus.

Parvo has an incubation period that averages four to five days.


This is followed by the acute illness which usually begins with vomiting ,depression, loss of apetite and diarrhea (a very disctint and recognisable smell with Parvo).


Some dogs will show no fever, whilst others have high fever up to 106°F (41.1°C).


Diarrhea is profuse and will contain mucus and blood, this can lead to a secondary life threatening problems of dehydration, which develops rapidly.

parvovirus in dogs

Parvo is a killer!