Canine Parvovirus: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

by Manya Vaish

Whether you are at home, in the park, or on the street, your pooch’s safety is in your hands. And the best way to protect your pooch is by giving them scheduled vaccinations.

Parvovirus vaccine for dogs

Photo by Vanessa Serpas on Unsplash

Canine Parvovirus (CPV) often known as Parvo is the worst nightmare for every dog parent. It is a highly contagious viral infection that affects dogs, particularly puppies that are between six weeks to six months old. It’s just in a matter of days that a perfectly healthy and playful dog can get extremely ill.

Timeline for Parvovirus Vaccine

For preventing parvovirus infection in your dogs, give them proper vaccinations and boosters. Initial vaccination of three doses should be given between six and sixteen weeks of age.

On the other hand, adult dogs should initially be given two doses, three to four weeks apart. Boosters should then be given annually.

You can find the full list of schedules for all the vaccinations for your dogs here.

What is Canine Parvovirus?

Parvovirus is a highly infectious disease that causes acute gastrointestinal illness in dogs. The infection is preventable through vaccines but if dogs do not receive timely vaccinations, the disease can be fatal and cause death as well.

The parvovirus attacks cells in the dog’s intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients for the body. The dogs thus become weak and dehydrated.

Parvovirus vaccination and schedule for dogs

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But what makes this virus so dangerous for your dogs?

Parvovirus is considered to be a deadly disease in dogs because of the ease with which it transmits through the canine population. The virus can spread either by direct contact with an already infected dog or through contaminated feces, or the environment. The virus can also infect kennel surfaces, food and water containers, leashes, and hands and clothes of people handling infected dogs.

Being resistant to heat, cold, and humidity, the virus can survive in the environment for a long period. Even a small trace amount of feces from an infected dog can infect your dogs if they come in contact.

Forms of Parvovirus

The parvovirus in dogs manifests itself in two different forms:

1. Intestinal Form- It is the more common form of parvovirus which affects puppies between the age of six weeks and twenty weeks. The virus can be transmitted both by direct and indirect contact.

Dogs/puppies suffering from intestinal form of parvovirus might show the following symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

2. Cardiac Form- Less known form of parvo is the cardiac form. The virus attacks the heart muscles of fetuses or young puppies (less than eight weeks old), often resulting in death.

 Puppies suffering from a cardiac form of parvovirus might show the signs like:

  • Crying or gasping for air
  • Weakness
  • Inability to play and inactivity
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Problem while nursing

Not all dogs have the same symptoms but in case you observe any such symptom, immediately concern your vet.

How to Prevent Deadly Parvovirus?

Parvo is a preventable disease. And the best way to protect your dogs from parvovirus is by following the correct protocol for your dog’s vaccinations and keeping them in good hygiene. Unvaccinated dogs are at higher risk of getting infected. So, always make sure that your pooch gets proper vaccinations and boosters.

Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs should not be exposed to the outside environment. Also, to avoid environmental contamination and spread of intestinal parasites, always pick up your dogs’ feces immediately.

Is Parvovirus Infection Treatable?

Well, parvovirus is a viral infection and there is no real cure for it. But you can avoid the infection from occurring in your dogs by giving them timely vaccinations.

Parvovirus vaccine for your dogs

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Dogs suffering from or suspected to have canine parvovirus are immediately isolated to prevent the spread of infection. The main goals of treatment include supportive care, restoration of fluid in the body, and prevention of secondary bacterial infection.


Parvovirus can have serious consequences over your dog’s health. Make sure your pooch gets vaccinations at appropriate ages and protect them most in their early age. If you suspect your dogs showing any parvo signs, immediately consult your vet!

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