Parvovirus in dogs

a dog on a sofa
Written by: Sam Webster (BVetMed MRCVS) Head Vet at Joii

Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that affects dogs, attacking the cells in their intestines. Puppies aged between six weeks and six months are most at risk, so it’s important to get them vaccinated.

Parvovirus can be fatal to dogs in many cases and there is no cure for it, so vaccinating your dogs against parvovirus is the best way to protect them. We’re going to take a look at parvovirus and what symptoms to look out for.


What is parvovirus?


Parvovirus, or canine parvovirus (CPV) is a very infectious disease that can sadly be fatal. This virus attacks the cells in a dog’s intestines and stops them from being able to absorb vital nutrients from their food, and also affecting the bone marrow and the heart in some cases.

The virus can spread easily when a dog comes in direct contact with an infected dog, or even indirect contact with contaminated objects.


Symptoms of parvovirus


A dog with parvovirus will usually get very sick very fast. The quicker you spot the signs the quicker you can get them to the vet

Specific signs and symptoms of parvovirus to look out for include bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, inappetance, fever, weight loss, weakness and dehydration.

Your vet can test for parvovirus by testing a faecal sample from your dog.


How do dogs and puppies get parvovirus?


Puppies that are aged between six weeks and six months are most at risk of catching parvovirus, but older dogs can also catch it. Unvaccinated puppies are most at risk of catching parvovirus so it’s essential you get your pup vaccinated against this disease as early as possible – usually from 6-8 weeks old.

Dogs can catch parvovirus from other infected dogs, infected dog poo, or anything an infected dog may have touched such as a lead, food or water bowl, bedding and clothing, as well as human hands or clothes. Even after a dog is lucky enough to recover, it’s a good idea to stay careful as they are often infectious for a few weeks after, and the virus can also live in the environment for up to a year.

How to treat parvovirus


Whilst there is no cure for parvovirus, treatment involves supportive care.

The main way to treat parvovirus is by supporting your dog whilst it fights the virus. This can include intensive nursing and feeding as your dog will need to be very carefully nursed in a veterinary hospital, and will need to be kept clean, warm, fed and properly hydrated. If your dog is having trouble eating, they may even need to be fed through a stomach tube. It’s also a good idea to keep them away from other pets so they don’t pick up any additional infections or spread the parvovirus to anyone.

It’s also likely that they will need a fluid drip that delivers fluids straight into the bloodstream to replace what they are losing through vomiting and diarrhoea, as without a drip they could become dangerously dehydrated. If the bone marrow is infected with the virus, blood transfusions may be required.

In some cases, additional medicines such as antiviral medications, anti-nausea medications, diarrhoea medications and antibiotics may also be prescribed to treat other symptoms and protect against any other infections.


Check that your pet insurance is up to date so that you are able to cover the costs of the medical bills and treatments – find the ideal dog insurance policy here at Asda Money.

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