Canine parvovirus, the highly contagious viral illness in dogs severely affects gastrointestinal tracts and is caused by CPV-contaminated feaces, animals, soil or environment in general. Learn how to spot CPV in dogs, treatment options and prevention measures.
The canine parvovirus (CPV) is an extremely contagious
viral infection that usually manifests itself in two distinct
Intestinal CPV, that is characterized by severe
diarrhoea (usually bloody), lack of appetite (anorexia),
weight loss, fever, lethargy and vomiting. Dogs can contract
the illness through oral contact with CPV-infected faeces,
fomites, or soil. Once ingested, the virus quickly replicates
specifically in the lymphoid tissue present in the throat,
before entering the bloodstream, where it attacks the rapidly
metastasizing cells in intestinal crypts, bone marrow, and
lymph nodes. The CPV causes destruction and necrosis of the
intestines, and depletion of lymphocytes in the lymph
bacteria that commonly inhabit the intestines then undergo
translocation, where they cross into the bloodstream with
bacteremia (Clostridium, Salmonella and/or Campylobacter)
resulting in sepsis. At this point, Systemic inflammatory
response syndrome (SIRS) sets in, leading to a range of
complications, including but not limited to acute respiratory
distress syndrome (ARDS), endotoxemia and hypercoagulability
of the blood. Dogs with CPV are likely to contract
intussusception, where one part of the intestine prolapses
into a different part of the intestine. 3-4 days
post-infection, the dog becomes an asymptomatic carrier and
the virus tends to shed in the faeces for almost 3 weeks. CPV
can be especially fatal, if the 'host' canine is infected
with intestinal parasites and/or infested with worms.
Cardiac CPV, that adversely affects the heart
muscles of really young puppies (6 weeks to 6 months), often
resulting in death. Due to the widespread practice of
administering neonatal vaccinations and mandatory CPV tests,
Cardiac CPV overall is not very common. Puppies with CPV
experience breathing difficulties caused by pulmonary edema
and heart muscle necrosis. In extreme cases, the disease can
cause lesions and attack the brain, kidneys, lungs, adrenal
cortex, and liver. Dogs surviving CPV are usually left with
fibrosis that is characterized by the accumulation of excess
While puppies tend to be easily susceptible to CPV, more
than 80% of grown-up dogs show absolutely no symptoms, making
early detection of the disease a difficult process. In case of
severe CPV, dogs are likely to die within 48 to 72 hours if
immediate treatment by fluids is not administered. In the more
common form of CPV, mortality remains 10%. Breeds with tan and/or
black colour like Rottweilers, Pitbull terriers and Doberman
Pinschers are more susceptible to CPV. Additionally, other
influential factors include a stressful environment and
simultaneous infections with canine coronavirus, bacteria, and
parasites. Dogs with CPV usually pass away from the dehydration
or another secondary infection, instead of the virus
survival rate of CPV is heavily dependent on how early the
disease was diagnosed, how old your dog is and how aggressive the
in-hospital treatment is. Following severe dehydration and
potential damage to the bone marrow and intestines, the dog
undergoes extensive hospitalization, where they are given
crystalloid IV fluids and anti nausea injections (such as
dolasetron, maropitant, ondansetron, metoclopramide or
prochlorperazine), and a variety of antibiotic injections (such
as ampicillin/enrofloxacin, metronidazole,
cefazolin/enrofloxacin, enrofloxacin, metronidazole, or
The fluids are generally a combination of a sterile,
well-balanced electrolyte solution containing a suitable volume
of B-complex vitamins, potassium chloride and dextrose. Analgesic
medications are often used for counteracting intestinal
discomfort, however, opioid analgesics are avoided as they can
lead to decreased motility and secondary ileus. All the
medications are administered intravenously (directly into the
vein), subcutaneously (in the subcutis) and intramuscularly
(directly into the muscle).
Apart from providing adequate rehydration, fluids are also
given intravenously every time the dog has a significant quantity
of diarrhea or vomiting. The fluid requirements are decided are
evaluating the dog's body weight and the degree of
A lot of times blood plasma transfusion is carried out from
a CPV-surviving donor dog in order to provide passive immunity to
the CPV-infected dog. Some veterinarians might have dogs at their
clinic or have frozen serum at hand for this purpose.
Additionally, human albumin and freshly frozen plasma
transfusions are done in severe cases to combat extreme protein
loss and to facilitate tissue healing. Once your dog is able to
keep fluids down, they are slowly discontinued and a diet of
soft, bland food introduced. Oral antibiotics are expected to
continue for several days depending on the dog's ability to
tackle secondary infections and the number of white blood cells.
A puppy displaying minimal CPV symptoms can bounce back in 2 or 3
days if the IV fluids are administered as soon as symptoms come
to light and a CPV test confirms the diagnosis. A CPV test must
be performed as soon as possible to initiate early treatment and
increase the survival rate.
In more severe cases, puppies might take up to 2 weeks to
completely recover. However, some dogs don't make it even after
aggressive treatment and extended hospitalization.
Prevention and decontamination:
Since CPV is extremely contagious and virulent, prevention
is the only way to make sure your furry friend remains healthy.
CPV vaccination should be administered once the puppy is 7–8
weeks old, followed by a booster that's given every 3-4 weeks
until 16 weeks. Puppies older than 16 weeks are usually
prescribed 3 vaccinations to be given at an interval of 3-4
weeks. Remember to not vaccinate pregnant mothers, as that would
lead to abortion and the mother might get extremely ill.
The virus is very resilient and can survive low/high
temperatures, and survive in organic material including soil/
faeces for up to 10 years. Bleach is the only household
disinfectant that is capable of killing it, so opt for dilute
bleach solution (1:10 ratio) to mop your floors.
A CPV-surviving dog remains contagious for almost 3 weeks,
and in some cases, up to 6 weeks. Notify your neighbours and
family members about your dog being infected, so that they can
get their dogs vaccinated or examined for immunity. Since the
vaccine is expected to take 2 weeks to reach adequate immunity
levels, the contagious animal should be kept in quarantine, until
other pets in the vicinity are protected.
All You Need to Know about Parvovirus Combination Vaccine
When you get a new dog, especially if it is a puppy, your vet
will tell you about all the vaccination shots your dog will need.
If you’ve had a dog for a few years, you will be familiar with
the yearly and other vaccination shots that your vet gives your
dog. Are you confused with some of the names of vaccinations
given to your dogs? Are you wondering what the parvovirus
combination vaccine, a very common shot given to dogs, is?
What is the parvovirus
combination vaccine for dogs?
The parvovirus combination vaccine is a single vaccination shot
given to your dog that contains a mixture of various vaccines.
The combination vaccine is known by many acronyms—DHPPV, DA2PPV,
DHPP, DA2PP, among others.This is what the letters in the
acronyms stand for and the infection against which they protect
D or canine
distemper: This is a viral infection with a kill
ate of almost 50 percent, which means almost 50 percent of the
dogs that get infected with this virus do not survive. The
infection causes problems with the brain and nervous system,
digestive system, and respiratory system in dogs.
hepatitis: The combination vaccine protects your
dog against two kinds of hepatitis infections, adenovirus-1 and
canine adenovirus-2. The H is, therefore, replaced by A2 in
some of the acronyms for the two kinds of adenovirus.
Adenovirus-1 causes a highly infectious strain of hepatitis in
dogs and severely affects the functioning of the liver. Canine
adenovirus-2 causes respiratory issues in dogs, and is commonly
known as kennel cough. It is highly infectious.
parvovirus: A parvovirus infection is deadly for
dogs, with over 90 percent of infected dogs not surviving if
not treated in time. There is no known cure for this infection,
and vaccination is the only way to avoid the infection.
Parvovirus attacks the immune system and digestive system in
dogs that are not vaccinated against parvovirus.
parainfluenza: This is a viral infection seen in
dogs that are not vaccinated. It is a mild infection that
Some combination vaccines may also include or be combined with
vaccines against other infections such as rabies, leptospirosis,
and bordotella. You can check with your vet about the kind of
vaccination shots being given to your dog.
Why you should vaccinate your
dog with the parvovirus combination vaccine
The infections for which a combination vaccine is used are
avoidable infections that have no cure. If your dog contracts any
of these infections, there is only treatment and supportive care
available. Therefore, these combination vaccine shots are crucial
for your dog to remain healthy and avoid deadly infections at