Why Is Canine Parvovirus More Fatal In Puppies What precautions can you take to minimise the risk

Why Is Canine Parvovirus More Fatal In Puppies

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Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease. It spreads very quickly, and it can be spread by an infected dog through its feces even before clinical symptoms appear.

Unfortunately, some diseases can affect your puppy even if you've taken all the precautions. One of these is canine parvovirus. This virus is highly contagious and often fatal in puppies because their immune systems are still developing. If left untreated, the fatality rate can be more than 90%. 

Canine parvovirus manifests in two different forms: intestinal and respiratory. Both types cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and a drop in body temperature. Still, it’s especially dangerous when it hits your puppy's intestines because they must be kept clean for proper digestion. 

A Highly Contagious Virus

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that primarily affects puppies. It's spread through contaminated feces and can be fatal in puppies. The virus is most common among puppies, as they often cannot build up immunity through exposure to the disease as an adult dog would.

Not only can dogs contract the virus from other dogs, but they can also get it from contaminated food and water. The virus is particularly prevalent in places where there are large concentrations of dogs. These include dog parks, shows, shelters, veterinary offices, and kennels. It is similar to Hepatitis in humans. 

How Does The Virus Work?

Viruses are tiny infectious agents that can't reproduce on their own. They need the machinery of an animal's cells to make copies of themselves. When a virus infects your pet, it uses the cell's DNA and enzymes to copy itself many times over, then goes on its merry way as your pet's cells finally die off and are replaced by new ones. 

Also, the viruses can survive outside living animals for quite some time. In fact, after being passed through an animal's digestive tract, the virus can still be found in feces for weeks or even months. This means that even though your puppy may seem perfectly healthy now and have no parvo symptoms, it could still be shedding billions of virus cells each day into its stool. 

The Virus Manifests In Two Different Forms

Parvo is a highly contagious viral disease that affects dogs. The virus manifests in two different forms:

? The first form, known as non-secretory, causes vomiting and diarrhea. It can be transmitted through direct contact with infected puppies or their feces.

? The second form is called secretory; it causes bloody diarrhea, which can spread to other animals and people. This form has lower mortality rates than non-secretory parvovirus. 

The Symptoms

The symptoms of both forms of canine parvovirus include :

? Lethargy

? Bloody diarrhea or yellowish-brown stools and can contain blood

? Vomiting or regurgitation of food, water, or bile 

The Virus Attacks Rapidly Dividing Cells In The Body

The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in the body, including fetal cells and the white blood cells that protect against infection. In puppies, this attack can cause severe damage to the lining of their intestines, leading to bloody diarrhea and vomiting. 

Parvo also attacks other types of cells in your pet's body: bone marrow, liver, and lymph nodes. These other cell types must work properly for your dog to recover from parvo.  

Your Pup Might Require Intravenous Fluids

The virus is so dehydrating that your dog will need to be hooked up to an IV line at the vet's office or home, with a saline solution being infused into your puppy's bloodstream. This helps to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes while they recover from the disease. 

However, there has been an interesting revelation that in puppies over the age of 6 months, sexually intact males are twice as likely to develop the virus than intact females. 

Treatment of Parvo

Treatment aims to reduce the viral load and give the immune system time to respond to the infection. Antibiotics for dogs are used to treat secondary bacterial infections. Antiviral drugs may be useful in dogs with no antibodies to parvovirus if the antibiotics do not work. 

The critical elements of treatment are adequate hydration and maintaining a safe environment for recovery from the effects of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. You can easily get an electrolyte for dogs from a pet pharmacy.

You need to monitor your dog closely and provide plenty of fresh water. Also, get some pet meds like Cerenia for dogs prescribed to help your dog with the vomiting, as vomiting can further dehydrate your dog.

The possibility of diarrhea may make it difficult for your dog to keep down food or water, so keep this in mind when considering what to feed him. You should also give him something with fiber or pumpkin, such as Royal Canin, Purina Pro Plan, or Nature's Recipe Dog Food

Safety Precautions

The virus can also spread through saliva on shoes or hands after handling an infected animal. Dogs can even be exposed to parvovirus through their own feces, i.e., if they eat or drink something that has been contaminated. Therefore, it is vital to take safety precautions.

If you have a multi-pet home, ensure that they are not sharing the dog beds or dog bowls to ensure safety and prevent further virus spread. 

Also, it’s advisable to use diapers for dogs when infected with the virus. This will make them more comfortable with diarrhea and reduce the risk of spreading the virus any further.

Now that you know how to spot parvovirus, it's worth noting that even if you observe all precautions with your puppy, there is still a chance they could get parvo. 


While there is no cure for canine parvovirus, early diagnosis and supportive care can help increase the chances of survival. Once a puppy or dog shows clinical signs of parvo infection, treatment should start immediately and continue until the dog has recovered from dehydration. The combination of early diagnosis and supportive care is crucial for the survival of a puppy or dog with parvo infection.

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