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Canine Parvovirus – Everything You Need To Know

Canine Parvovirus

What is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious virus that can affect most the canids. Unvaccinated dogs and puppies between six and 20 weeks old are the most at risk.

Canine parvovirus 2 is the causative agent of parvovirus and the infected dogs are said to have "parvo."

First recognized in 1977, CPV-2 is speculated to be originated as a host range variant from feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) or from an FPV subspecies that is closely related to carnivore parvovirus and this has adapted to the new host dog via non-domestic Canidae animals, like foxes and coyotes.

CPV-2 has now well established itself worldwide as a virulent enteric pathogen of dogs with high morbidity (100%) and mortality rate of more than 10%.

Quite the opposite of FPV, CPV-2 has rapidly trans-mutated since it has surfaced. The initial antigenic type of CPV vanished several years ago and a number of new genetic CPV, as well as antigenic variants, have now appeared. The different variants of the CPV- 2 viruses are CPV-2a, CPV-2b, and CPV-2c - all differ at only one point on the DNA strand.

All the CPV-2 variants are highly infectious and are spread by direct animal contact and contact with infected fecal waste, contaminated surfaces, or people. The virus can contaminate environmental surfaces, such as collars, leashes, food and water bowls, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. Although CPV-2 is a non-enveloped virus, this is one of the most environmentally stable viruses, can survive 5-7 months in the environment, and can remain virulent for at least a year in the soil.

Symptoms Of Canine Parvovirus

  • Enteritis with diarrhea and vomition
  • Myocarditis (puppies)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite/ Stops Eating/Drinking
  • Prolonged Lethargy/Disinterest
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration

Treatment Options For Canine Parvovirus

There are no medications available to treat the canine parvovirus in dogs.

  • Immediate hospitalization and close monitoring are required as this virus, if not treated immediately, will cause death.
  • Intravenous fluid and nutritional therapy will be given to help your dog not become severely dehydrated.
  • Your vet keeps your dog hydrated and only treats the symptoms while the virus runs its course.
  • immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Anti-diarrhea medications.
  • A broad-spectrum antibiotic for any secondary bacterial infections from occurring.

Home Remedies For Canine Parvovirus

  • Keep the affected dog in isolation and after they are deemed recovered for at least two more months.
  • Make sure that your dog gets appropriate vaccinations.
  • Limit the exposure of puppies to other dogs that may be infected or carrying the virus until they have completed their puppy vaccination series.
  • It is advisable to keep your dog’s bedding clean and sterile.

How to Prevent Canine Parvovirus?


The canine parvovirus vaccine can be administered either as a monovalent vaccine or as a multivalent vaccine together with other core vaccinations dogs receive as a part of their wellness routine.

Most often, they are administered in a grouping vaccine that goes by a variety of acronyms: DAPP, DA2PP, DHPP, DHLPP, etc.

First vaccine: 6-8 weeks old.

Subsequent vaccines: every 3 to 4 weeks (until 16 weeks of age), high-risk environment puppies (till 20 weeks of age).

Dogs > 16 weeks that have never received a CPV-2 vaccination: 2 doses at 3 to 4 weeks.

Booster vaccine: 1 year after the initial series and thereafter, not more often than every 3 years.


  • All parvoviruses may persist in the environment for longer periods of time and are highly stable.
  • Many disinfectants commonly used in veterinary hospitals and shelters can easily kill the virus (formalin, phenols, and bleach solutions at a 1 to 30 dilution, sodium hypochlorite, beta propiolactone, oxidizing agents, and hydroxylamine).
  • Keep the suspected dog in isolation and after they are deemed recovered for at least two more weeks.
  • Limit the exposure of puppies to other dogs that may be infected or carrying the virus until they have completed their puppy vaccination series.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Canine Parvovirus

Rottweiler, American Pit Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, English Springer Spaniel, German Shepherd

Additional Facts For Canine Parvovirus


  • Direct contact with infected dogs in boarding/kenneling situations, dog shows, shelters, etc.,
  • Transplacentally to the fetuses.
  • Direct contact with surface pathogens in clothing, bowls, etc.,
  • Ingestion of infected fecal matter.


The puppy (or adult dog) gets infected from direct and indirect contact with an infected dog.


3- 7 days, the dog may not show any symptoms.


When the virus enters the puppy (or dog) and after the incubation period, lymph nodes are the place where the virus replicates and significant amounts of viral load are released into the bloodstream. Over the next few days, the viruses form large eosinophilic intranuclear inclusion bodies in the rapidly dividing cells like the bone marrow and the delicate intestinal cells.

Destruction of young cells of the immune system happens in the bone marrow and destabilizes a dog’s defense mechanism. Dog’s gastrointestinal tract is where the most devastating effects occur. In pups, yellow-colored or blood-tinged, or watery diarrhea occurs in grave proportions.

Another variant of CPV manifests myocarditis (cardiac inflammation) which affects the puppies. Within an infected litter, 70% of pups will die of acute heart failure with respiratory distress within 8 weeks of age and the remaining 30% will have myocardial and circulatory complications which may result in death after a few months or even years later. As this variant multiplies rapidly in muscle cells, there is no diarrhea.


Young dogs have the highest mortality rate (usually it ranges from 10% to 30%). The mortality rate can reach 90% without any treatment.


Recovery from CPV varies case by case. Complete recovery depends on the severity of the disease and the damage it has done. With treatment, the survival rate of puppies is 60 percent and most puppies that survive the first 5-6 days outcome is good.

The CPV-2 single infection prognosis is higher than that of a co-infection with other viruses.

Clinical studies about CPV-2 infection:

  1. The morbidity in early winter, spring, and late autumn was comparatively higher than those in other seasons. This may have been related to changeable climates and large seasonal differences in diurnal temperature during these seasons.
  2. In general, CPV-2 infection rates were higher in spring and autumn(Several studies have reported).
  3. Observations by Cavalli et al. and Geng et al --- CPV-2 was found mostly in puppies ranging from 2 to 4 months old. The relative resistance of adults to the virus was attributed to developed immune functions and increased vaccination rates.
  4. Virus sex predilection: Male dogs have a higher disease prevalence.
  5. Purebreds are more susceptible than Hybrids and native dogs, which should be investigated in future studies.

When To See A Vet For Canine Parvovirus?

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • Enteritis with diarrhea and vomition.
  • Puppies - myocarditis (Difficult breathing, Cough, Weakness).

Dog Food Suggestions For Canine Parvovirus

  1. Leafy greens (Spinach, Kale, lettuce).
  2. High-quality protein (seafood, meat, dairy, or eggs).
  3. Essential fatty acids (egg yolks, oatmeal).
  4. Broth or stock of boiled chicken bones.
  5. Tuna, salmon, cod, whiting, whitefish, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
  6. Button Mushrooms, Oysters.
  7. Cooked or raw liver, Red Meat.
  8. Plant-based proteins peas, chickpeas, and lentils.
  9. Canned pumpkin, Carrots.
  10. Berries, apples, banana.


Parvo is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal for puppies. Older dogs that get parvo may survive the disease but a fatal outcome is not impossible without treatment. An Adult dog can certainly survive parvo when given the proper medical attention from a veterinarian.

Affected dogs will have significant abdominal pain as the virus causes the lining of the intestines to slough. Healing times vary depending on the severity of the infection. With appropriate treatment, it usually takes approximately 7-10 days for dogs to recover from parvo.

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