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Canine parvovirus (parvo) is a highly contagious virus that spreads via faeces (often microscopic particles that cannot be seen visually) . The virus can live on the ground, on peoples clothing, in fur, on various surfaces and it can also be present on people’s hands that have encountered the virus. Parvo can remain outdoors, infecting unvaccinated dogs for many months and even years if in the right conditions.

Parvo is classed as a disease of the small intestines and stomach as these are the main areas the virus damages. The virus destroys cells, impairs the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and interferes with the gut barrier. Parvo in puppies also affects the bone marrow and lymphoid tissues, and in some cases, it can also affect the heart. Because of this, infected dogs become extremely dehydrated and malnourished, causing a further array of symptoms.

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Parvovirus Vaccine for puppies

Vaccinations provide adequate protection against this virus and can help dogs live happier, healthier lives. A puppy should receive two or three parvo vaccines and as directed by your vet throughout their lives. After this period, annual boosters are needed to keep dogs up to date with immunity and cover. Certain diseases, such as leptospirosis, only carry around 12 months of protection, which is why yearly boosters are required for full protection.

Certain breeds of dogs are also at an increased risk of parvo:

  • rottweilers
  • doberman pinschers
  • Staffordshire bull terriers
  • English springer spaniels
  • German shepherd dogs
  • labrador retrievers.

What are the symptoms of parvovirus in dogs?

The main symptoms of parvo are:

  • bloody diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • inappetence
  • weight loss
  • weakness
  • dehydration.

These symptoms alone are serious, you should contact us immediately if you suspect your puppy has parvo. 

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Parvovirus Vacinnation FAQs

How do puppies get parvo?

Parvo spreads via exposure to infected faeces (often tiny particles that aren’t detected by the eye alone) and contaminated objects, such as a person touching your dog who has petted an infected dog.

Also, the virus can spread via contaminated objects such as bowls, leads or toys. Puppies and adult dogs with parvo start shedding the virus within four-to-five days of exposure. Unfortunately, dogs can be contagious before owners notice their dog is unwell. Puppies with parvo continue to shed the virus for up to 10 days if they have made a recovery from this illness.

The virus itself can survive indoors for at least one month, outdoors it can survive for many months and even a year under the right conditions.

How many parvo shots does my puppy need?

The core vaccines (two primary vaccines) are usually recommended, but it’s always best to speak to your vet as they may recommend a bespoke regime to best your puppy.

Can my older dog get parvo from a puppy?

Any unvaccinated dogs can get parvo virus, if your dog is fully vaccinated and up to date with these, then this would be highly unlikely to occur.

What are the first signs of parvo in a dog?

The first symptoms of parvo are usually:

  • bloody diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • inappetence

These symptoms alone are serious, you should contact us immediately if you suspect your puppy has parvo.

Can a dog survive parvo?

If a dog is treated rapidly and taken to a veterinary practice, this increases the overall chance of survival. Other factors such as underlying illnesses which may weaken or lower the immune system may affect a dog’s chance of survival. The earlier the treatment is carried out the higher the chance of survival. This is why we recommend preventative measures such as vaccines to cover from numerous potentially fatal diseases.

Can a dog with parvo survive?

If a dog is treated rapidly and taken to a veterinary practice, this increases the overall chance of survival. Other factors such as underlying illnesses which may weaken or lower the immune system may affect a dog’s chance of survival. The earlier the treatment is carried out the higher the chance of survival.

Can a dog with parvo survive without treatment?

Parvo has a mortality rate of around 91% without treatment, we would always immediately request to see a dog or puppy with suspected parvo for this reason, this is a highly contagious and serious virus that can cause rapid deterioration within 48-72 hours.

Can a dog survive parvo at home?

Parvo has a mortality rate of around 91% without treatment, we would always immediately request to see a dog or puppy with suspected parvo for this reason, this is a highly contagious and serious virus that can cause rapid deterioration within 48-72 hours.

How do you treat a dog with parvo?

There is no cure as such for parvo which is why vaccinating against it is important, however veterinary surgeons treat parvo symptomatically through treatments that include: placement in an isolation ward where they will be nursed intensively, rigorous rehydration support through intravenous fluid therapy, nutritional support often through feeding tubes if a dog or puppy is vomiting or in-appetent.

Antibiotics are sometimes used but only to treat secondary bacterial infections as antibiotics have no effect on viruses. Clinical teams will also intensively monitor a dog’s progress with blood tests, hospital chart records as well as monitoring heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, faecal output, urine output, hydration levels and overall demeanour.

Can humans get parvovirus?

Parvo is not a zoonotic disease and therefore cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans. There is, however, parvovirus B19 infection, which is a common and highly contagious childhood illness. The parvovirus that affects dogs is not the same as parvovirus B19 that affects humans.

Can humans get parvovirus from dogs?

Parvo is not a zoonotic disease and therefore cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans.

Can cats get parvo from an infected dog?

Although the risk is very small, there is some evidence to suggest that under certain circumstances the strain affecting dogs may also cause disease in cats.