Canine Parvovirus

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Canine Parvovirus History and Info

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious non-enveloped viral disease which impacts dogs all around the world. There is two prominent types of parvovirus that dogs have. Dogs can become infected with CPV-1 or CPV-2. Canine parvovirus type 2 is the dreaded virus that impacts kennels and owners the most. Canine parvovirus type 1 is known as canine minute virus which is not as dangerous and less likely to be seen. Canine parvovirus type 1 (CPV-1) was discovered around 1967 in Germany. CPV-1 is seen only in young puppies around 1 to 5 weeks old. It only infects puppies which makes it less of a threat than type 2 parvovirus.

Canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) first mutated from feline parvovirus around 1978 to 1979, when canine parvovirus was discovered. Canine parovirus can spread from dog to dog, affecting the intestinal tract. Dogs in pet stores, boarding facilities, and dog parks are at an increased risk of contracting this serious disease. The dogs most at risk is the German Shepherd, Labrador retriever, and the Rottweiler. The most commonly infected dog is around six to eight months old, with dogs one year and over being mostly immune or resistant to this virus.

Parovirus Symptoms

Canine parvovirus can cause bloody diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite and vomiting in infected dogs which further lead to dehydration and death. Symptoms rapidly develop and can cause death before a conclusive diagnosis is even reached. It is generally accepted that the death of a parvo infected dog is by the shock that accompanies severe dehydration.

The incubation period of parvovirus is 5 to 12 days, the time after infection and before symptoms arise. Parvovirus can still spread from dog to dog during the incubation period which makes it a high risk disease. It is thought that the incubation period can be the time that the most dogs could be infected due to the owner not knowing the dog is infected and being unable to take precautionary measures.

How is Parvo Spread?

While most dogs that contract parvovirus are under one year old, it is possible for dogs over one year of age to obtain this disease if they are not vaccinated. The most common route of infection is from the feces of an infected dog. Parvovirus can also spread by food bowls, carpet, toys, and on the ground where other dogs frequently visit. Parvovirus can even spread on your shirt, pants, and shoes. Parvovirus has been proven to survive on surfaces for up to five years in ideal conditions which makes this virus hardy. High traffic areas are a hot spot for infection and vaccinations should be brought up to date prior to visiting them.

One other way parvo can find itself into your house is by your children bringing in items. Even a rock can be an infected item that can be brought into the house. The rock your child brings into the house could have been visited 2 weeks ago by an infected dog and you would have no way of knowing for sure. You can even track parvo in with your shoes or clothing after visiting a party or staying in a hotel that people with an infected dog could have visited.

The canine minute virus is usually given to the fetuses orally by the mother. After birth the puppies are born with diarrhea, breathing problems, and lack of appetite. Diarrhea should always be the main symptom of concern, especially watery and bloody diarrhea.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of parvovirus is made by using a parvovirus test that requires just a little of the dog’s feces. If no feces is present, a rectal swab can be done which will take about 10 minutes to perform. A physical exam is also done to establish the dog’s hydration status, heart beat rhythm, temperature, and body condition score. Treatment will likely consist of a drug that prevents vomiting, intravenous fluids, and an antibiotic to prevent septicemia. Expect your dog to stay in the veterinary hospital for around 5 days for careful monitoring of his condition.


Vaccinations have been recorded to decrease the incidence of parvovirus. Vaccination at 8, 12, and 16 weeks old is the protocol used in puppies. You want to wait until 8 weeks old because you want their maternal antibodies to wane first. The protocol is basically one vaccination at 8 weeks old which is then followed by two more vaccinations, three to four weeks apart.

You will want to wait 30-45 days before bringing home another dog if you can. Even then, it is good if you can get a puppy or a dog that has been vaccinated before bringing it into your house to be on the safe side.

Vaccination is done every year after the final booster shot to provide ongoing immunity. It will take about 2 weeks for your dog to reach protective levels after the vaccinations have been administered. Dogs that are infected with parvovirus develop natural immunity. It might still be recommended to give regular boost shots to protect your dog against the other diseases he could run into.

Cleaning Up

Put on disposable gloves and a disposable shirt before cleaning. Your dog can still spread the disease for up to four months following treatment, making the separation of other dogs necessary.  Please note that all disinfectants need to sit for a full ten minutes to completely kill the virus before you get crazy with your disinfection blitz. Using a commercial disinfectant like Trifectant or bleach diluted at 1 part water to 32 parts of bleach, you would spray down all the dishes, cages, and pet taxis. Throw away all inexpensive toys and bedding.

You can also disinfect your yard if you have the desire to. You will want to clean up all the poop because that will prevent proper sanitation. You would want to mix 20 ounces of bleach into a 5 gallon bucket. Use a pressure sprayer to spray everything with the solution. Please be warned that this method will kill all of your plants and grass. A commercial solution like Trifectant can be used in the same way and is less likely to kill your yard, although no guarantees can be made.

While there is no product available for carpets that is completely safe, there is some ways to reduce the number of virus particles in the carpet. To disinfect your floor you can steam clean using regular carpet shampoo first to remove all stains. Use a pressure sprayer to spray down all of the carpet with an approved disinfectant, followed by steam cleaning with the same disinfectant. You will want to air dry everything afterwards after it has sit for ten minutes, using open windows and fans.

Finally you will want to disinfect your vehicle using an iodophor disinfectant, specifically made to disinfect vehicles and wash your hands thoroughly after you are completely done. You can read more about parvovirus disinfection here. 


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