Parvo in Dogs Who Have Not Been Vaccinated
Puppies and adult dogs who have not been vaccinated from Parvovirus are
susceptible to the disease. Parvo is highly contagious in
unvaccinated dogs, and can be transmitted through fur or
infected surfaces and objects.
If your dog begins to exhibit the following symptoms, it’s
recommended that you take them to the veterinarian as soon as
possible. Untreated, Parvo can be fatal.
Symptoms of Parvo
The first indication of the presence of Parvovirus is severe diarrhea. Your dog will likely
become lethargic is a result of the dehydration associated with
diarrhea. Your dog may also begin vomiting, which can only
exacerbate lethargy and dehydration.
Blood in a dog’s stool is commonly associated with Parvo. As is
an especially and uniquely stinky feces -- an odor commonly
described as “far worse” than typical.
If these signs show up, get your puppy to a vet immediately. As with many illnesses,
early detection and treatment of Parvo is of the essence.
How Parvo Works, Internally
According to Jenna Strevowski, RVT, “Parvovirus attacks cells
in your dog’s body, specifically bone marrow and intestinal
cells. After the bone marrow is affected, white blood cell count drops.” At this
point, the immune system begins to shut down.
“The lining of the intestines are typically damaged when
Parvovirus is present. At this point, the body is no longer
able to absorb nutrients or properly digest food. The result is
nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.”
If left untreated, Parvo can cause sepsis, an infection of the
blood that occurs when the intestinal walls aren’t able to act
as a barrier against bacteria.
Many dogs and puppies do not survive Parvovirus, which is why
vaccination against the disease -- the only preventative
measure -- is highly recommended.
If Dogs Have Been Vaccinated
The Parvovirus vaccination is reliable. Dogs who have been
vaccinated from Parvo, who are exhibiting similar symptoms, are
likely not suffering from Parvo, but from some other malady.
They should still be checked out by a vet.
If your puppy is getting their puppy series of vaccinations,
veterinarians recommend keeping your puppy away from other dogs
until they've had their 2nd vaccination.
Parvo in Puppies
What is Parvovirus?
Parvo is a serious virus, spread through infected fecal matter,
that can attack your dog’s intestinal tract as well as their
overall immune system. Parvo is most commonly found in puppies.
Puppies are susceptible to the virus approximately around the
time they stop nursing, and before they get their first round of vaccinations. For
this reason, it is recommended that puppies get vaccinated as
early as six weeks of age.
How Do Puppies Contract Parvovirus?
Early in a puppy’s life, antibodies from the womb are still
present. These antibodies will ward off many diseases,
including Parvo. Once these antibodies wear off, your puppy,
and eventually your adult dog, is exposed to the disease.
Parvovirus is at its highest concentration in feces. Sometimes
a dog or a human will pick the virus up on the bottom of their
shoes, and bring it into a home or yard, where a dog might roll
in it. If the puppy then licks their fur, or another surface
infected with the virus (like a
toy), the virus will enter their bloodstream where it may
begin its unfortunate work.
Even a single microscopic spore can cause an animal to become
very sick. Vaccination is the only prevention.
How to Tell if My Puppy Has Parvo
If your puppy has not been vaccinated against Parvovirus, and
they begin to exhibit serious and severe diarrhea, it will be assumed that
they’re infected with Parvo. Especially if the diarrhea occurs
in conjunction with the following symptoms:
- Bloody stool
- Remarkably stinky stool
If these signs show up, get your puppy to a vet immediately. As
with many illnesses, early detection and treatment of Parvo is
of the essence.
Diagnoses & Treatment of Parvo in Puppies
Your veterinarian will likely administer an in-house blood test
to determine if Parvo antibodies are present in the
bloodstream. If so, your puppy will be diagnosed, and treatment
Jenna Stregowski, RVT, says, “There is currently no cure for
Parvovirus. Treatment primarily involves supportive
care. Home care is not
typically effective for dogs that have become very sick.
Hospitalization is recommended.” She adds that general
treatment will include, “IV fluids, to rehydrate the dog after
excessive diarrhea and vomiting; antibiotics, to prevent
sepsis; anti-nausea drugs to help your pup feel better;
antacids to prevent damage the stomach lining and esophagus;
and some standard deworming, to prevent intestinal parasites,
which could make Parvo symptoms worse, and slow recovery.”
Hospital stays can last up to a week, and can become very
expensive. Follow up antibiotic treatments, administered at
home, will likely be prescribed. Your puppy’s diet will be limited to
something bland, soft, and easy to digest. Over several weeks,
with your vets approval, you’ll reintroduce regular foods.
Stregowski adds, “For about a month after treatment, your dog
should not visit public places, and should be kept away from
other unvaccinated puppies or dogs.” This is because your dog
will continue to shed the virus for about four weeks after
Prevention & Decontamination
The best and only prevention for Parvo is vaccination. Common
vaccinations are often 5-in-1s. That is, 5 vaccinations from 5
different diseases, administered in 1 single shot. Parvo will
be represented by a single P in the name of the 5-in-1. Ask
your vet about the vaccine.
Puppies should be vaccinated against Parvo as part of their
regular vaccine series, and veterinarian recommend not letting
your new puppy socialize with other dogs until they are two
shots into their series.
Once a dog has been infected with Parvo, disinfection of the
home environment is critical. Bear in mind, Parvo can be
tracked and carried around on the bottom of human and animal
feet, on toys, or on fur. For this reason, all areas of the home should be decontaminated,
even if the infected animal didn’t spend time there.
Bleach is the only household chemical that will kill Parvo. A
ratio of 1 oz bleach to 32 oz of water, or stronger, is
recommended. Stregowski says, “Generally, parvovirus will not
live indoors for more than a month or two,” but it’s still
important to decontaminate wherever you can. Obviously,
bleaching carpets is not practical, but consider a professional
steam cleaning. It might not kill the virus, but it will
diminish it in the home.
Outdoor areas are even harder to decontaminate. It’s best to
keep an infected dog confined to a small area until you’re sure
the virus is entirely gone.
More on Dog Symptoms
Symptoms of Allergies in Cats and
How to Know if Your Dog Has
Symptoms of Eye Infections in
This information is for informational
purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the
professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your
veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been
verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.