Poor three-month-old puppy, Cinder, is sick. She has a high fever, can barely lift her head, and has severe diarrhea and vomiting--she cannot even keep water down. Her concerned owner rushes her to the veterinarian. Cinder has canine parvovirus, a very contagious, very serious viral disease. Although canine parvovirus can be vaccinated against successfully, every year thousands of unvaccinated dogs or puppies that have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated contract this serious, sometimes fatal disease. The virus is characterized by severe infection and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Dogs with the virus can rapidly become dehydrated, and the illness is frequently fatal. Affected dogs that do receive treatment and recover are in a weakened state and are frequently covered in vomit and diarrhea which needs to be cleaned off.
If your dog is recovering from parvo you will most likely want to bathe your dog to clean him or her up. There are, however, several concerns with bathing a dog infected with parvo. Because of the severity of the illness and the dog's weakened state they are prone to chill easily and can easily get hypothermia due to impaired ability to regulate their temperature, which can be very dangerous. Care needs to be taken to minimize your dog getting cold or stressed while being bathed. A dog that is experiencing severe parvo symptoms including dehydration should not be bathed by immersion in water if possible. Alternative bathing methods should be used to minimize the chance of the dog getting hypothermia and going into shock. Another concern is the contagious nature of parvo. You will want to take precautions to clean up after bathing your sick dog so as to minimize the chance of spreading the disease to other animals.