4 min read


Can Dogs Live with Parvo?



4 min read


Can Dogs Live with Parvo?


Parvovirus, or parvo, is a highly infectious gastrointestinal illness with serious consequences for our canine companions. It can be fatal if left untreated, and is especially dangerous for puppies and other dogs with weakened immune systems.

However, a diagnosis of parvo isn't necessarily a death sentence. Survival often depends on how quickly the condition is diagnosed and treated, so being aware of the warning signs and seeking immediate medical help are crucial to a dog's chances of living through parvo.

There are also steps you can take to protect your dog against parvo and prevent the spread of this nasty viral illness, so educate yourself about how best to ensure the safety of your furry friend.


Signs and Symptoms of Parvovirus

The mere mention of the word "parvo" is usually enough to send a shudder down any dog owner's spine, but how much do you know about this illness and the effects it could have on your dog?

Parvo is caused by a virus with the official name of canine parvovirus type 2. It's extremely serious and can be life-threatening, and it mainly affects a dog's gastrointestinal tract. Parvo is also feared because it can spread quickly from one dog to another, and the fast onset of symptoms means that affected dogs can become seriously ill in a very short space of time.

So, what symptoms indicate that your dog may have parvo? The sudden onset of severe, bloody diarrhea is a key warning sign and one that shouldn't be ignored. This may also be accompanied by persistent vomiting and result in dehydration and damage your pet's intestines and immune system. Other signs include lethargy and weakness, fever, and reduced appetite. 

When most people think of parvo, they also think of puppies. Although the illness is most common in dogs under one year of age and particularly dangerous for young puppies, dogs of all ages can contract it. So if your pooch is showing any signs of parvovirus, take them to the vet to get thoroughly checked out.

Body Language

A dog's body language can contain several reliable indicators that they could be suffering from an illness like parvo. Signs include:<br/>

  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Panting
  • Ears Drop
  • Weakness

Other Signs

Other signs and symptoms of parvo include:<br/>

  • Bloody Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Weakness

The History of Dogs and Parvo


Canine parvovirus type 2 was first detected in Europe around 1978 and soon spread to the US, Asia and Australia. It's actually quite closely related to feline panleukopenia virus (FPV),  and by 1980 had become a serious and fatal problem for dog populations in several countries worldwide. However, researchers were quick to respond to the threat posed by this rapidly spreading viral illness, and effective vaccines against parvo were developed quickly.

It's also worth noting that there are three variants of canine parvovirus type 2. Types a and b were first discovered some time ago, but type c was discovered in Italy at the start of the 21st century. It made its way to the United States by 2005, and over the next six years it became the most common form of parvovirus in the nation.

The good news is that there are vaccinations available to protect your pooch against all parvo variants; the bad news is that not all dogs are vaccinated, so outbreaks still pose a threat to the health of our furry friends. Vaccination provides the best protection possible for your pooch, so speak to your vet about what you need to do (and when) to help keep your pet safe.

The Science of Parvovirus in Dogs


Parvovirus is easily spread from one dog to another from coming into contact with infected feces. It can also be transmitted via direct contact between dogs, and if your dog comes into contact with contaminated environments or people.

Resistant to heat and detergents, parvo can remain in the environment for up to a year. It can spread alarmingly quickly through the canine population and although coming into contact with the virus doesn't necessarily mean a dog will become infected, if they're a puppy or have a compromised immune system infection is likely.

Symptoms of parvo typically present within 7 to 10 days. If parvo is left untreated, puppies have a survival rate of less than 10 percent. However, prompt and effective treatment sees the survival rate climb to anywhere between 80 and 95 percent.

Treating Parvovirus in Your Dog


If you notice any signs of parvo, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Most deaths from parvo occur within the first 48 to 72 hours after the onset of symptoms, so don't delay.

The illness can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, but there's no specific anti-viral treatment for the condition. Instead, your vet's focus will be on providing supportive care to your dog, including replacing lost fluids and electrolytes, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and giving antibiotics to control and eliminate any secondary infections.

Another key focus is on preventing the spread of the disease. As parvo is highly contagious, your pet will need to be placed in isolation to reduce the risk of the illness spreading to other animals.

The aim of treatment is to provide the support your dog's body and major organs need to get back to the best possible shape. This will hopefully then ensure that their immune system is ready and able to fight off the infection.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure, so make sure you follow your vet's advice on how to protect your pet against parvo.

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Written by a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 03/27/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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