Dog Parvo Symptoms

Dog parvo symptoms caused by canine parvovirus are usually diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and lethargy. Also, another common canine parvovirus sign is leukopenia, which is a low white blood cell count.

Most dog parvo symptoms are not necessarily due to the virus but due to secondary bacterial infections. Parvovirus infects rapidly dividing cells of the dog, mainly the lining of the intestine, and the rapidly dividing cells of the bone marrow which were destined to become white blood cells. White blood cells are cells that help fight off infections. With a decreased amount, puppies with parvo virus have difficulty overcoming infections.



Mainly only puppies are affected due to an immature immune system. Most puppies are vaccinated for parvovirus when given ‘puppy shots’ and while this protects most dogs, there are a few puppies that will likely be susceptible to infection.

Parvovirus is one of the most common and most devastating diseases of puppies because this virus lasts a long time in the environment. It is a small non-enveloped DNA virus. It owes its environmental persistence to being non-enveloped so most household cleaners will not kill this virus.



A dilute bleach solution will kill this virus (1 part bleach to 30 parts water). Parvovirus can last for over 6 months in the environment, so if a sick dog has been in your house, it is best to wait to get another puppy for while to allow the virus to clear. Parvovirus is easily spread among dogs through the fecal-oral route, and also through being in the same environment.

Some breeds are more susceptible to parvovirus than others. Rottweilers, Doberman pinchers, and Pit-bull Terriers are breeds of dogs that seem to be more susceptible than other dogs to parvo.

Diagnosis is by an ELISA antibody test your veterinarian can perform on your dog’s blood. There are many viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhea, so it is important your vet confirms this diagnosis.

Treatment of dog parvo symptoms includes, large volumes of fluids to overcome dehydration from the diarrhea. Also, antibiotics are given not for the virus, but to protect form secondary bacterial infections, because of the puppy’s weakened immune system. Fortunately most dogs will survive this infection.

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