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Parvo is an alarmingly deadly virus that infects dogs of all ages. Fortunately, there are effective ways you can protect your furry friend from this often fatal disease.

Keep scrolling, and this article will cover the following:

  • how parvo affects dogs
  • transmission through contact with infected animals or objects in the environment
  • detecting symptoms of the illness early on, so they have a better chance at survival 
  • practical steps toward prevention 
  • and more!

The Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is also referred to as "the parvus" because it's an RNA virus that affects the intestinal tract lining. It belongs to the erythrovirus family, which has other viruses such as erythroparvovirus A. It's most commonly found in dogs, but it can also infect other animals such as foxes, wolves, skunks, and raccoons through contact with the feces or saliva of an infected animal.

NOTE: RNA viruses are a type of virus that uses RNA (ribonucleic acid) to replicate. This type is in contrast to DNA viruses, which use DNA.

Parvo is contagious, which means your pet can catch the virus from another sick dog even without direct contact, like sharing food bowls and toys. If you're not careful enough and seldom disinfect your dog's toys and other objects, they may still carry traces of parvovirus that could be transmitted to other pets unintentionally. Your pet will likely become very ill within a few days at the most, even without immediate symptoms upon exposure.

Parvovirus infections usually last anywhere from 1-3 weeks in the intestinal tract and may lead to dehydration. The virus can last in the environment for up to a year or more and is resistant to chemical disinfectants and water, so cleaning and disinfecting your house is also important.

If your pet comes in contact with an infected dog, it may also contract the virus and have an extremely high chance of getting sick within 24 hours.

The survival rate varies depending on how severe the case is and how quickly it's detected. Treatment for parvovirus needs to be fast-acting. In many instances, owners lose their furry best friend due to neglect or delays in seeing symptoms. If you find your dog becoming severely dehydrated from the unknown illness but don’t rush them to a vet for consultation and treatment right away, the following symptoms could be fatal.

Symptoms of Parvovirus

Parvovirus can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea, considered a classic sign of parvo in dogs. These are symptoms shared by other animals infected with the virus, such as foxes and wolves. Some owners may notice that their dog has completely stopped eating before becoming severely dehydrated. In such cases, your vet may prescribe IV fluids for rehydration. This condition doesn't only cause dehydration but also electrolyte imbalances. Giving them some oral or injectable medications will be necessary until you see an improvement in voluntary liquid intake.

Another big problem associated with parvo is when the body responds to the infection through inflammation caused by white blood cells. This response can lead to extensive damage throughout the body, including the liver and kidneys, making it difficult for your dog to recover even when they survive the virus itself.

Treatment for Parvovirus

Treatment options for parvo in dogs depend on how severe the case is. Some may only require supportive care, while others need more aggressive interventions, such as antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and even plasma transfusions. If your pet happens to vomit or have diarrhea frequently, then you'll also want to make sure they're well hydrated by providing lots of fluids either through drinking water or IVs. Otherwise, they’ll become too weak from losing essential electrolytes.

Here are more helpful tips:

  • Ensure your pet has access to clean water all the time.
  • Keep your dog safe from other sick animals.
  • Clean up any messes immediately.
  • Disinfect anything your pet may have come in contact with, including their toys, bedding, etc.
  • Get your pet vaccinated against parvo as soon as possible.

Parvovirus Prevention

Though parvo is deadly, there are certain precautions you can take to protect your pets from acquiring it. Here are the ways you can possibly avoid the dreaded parvovirus.


It's important to get your pet vaccinated for this virus. Although vaccinations won't guarantee 100% immunity from the disease, they are still very effective at ensuring that your dog is better protected against parvo. The best time to vaccinate for this deadly illness is when your pet is still a little puppy. Their developing immune system is still yet to contain strong antibodies against the virus.


Always keep your dog away from sick animals. It will also help if you avoid bringing them near areas where there may already be infected dogs, such as parks with kennels nearby and even outside without proper fencing. You should also make sure that you're not bringing in other dogs to your home that don't have their parvo vaccination records with them.


Even if they've been vaccinated, it's still best to keep everything as clean and sanitized as possible, which means disinfecting bowls, toys, and any objects where there is a chance of contact with saliva or stool.

Immediate Response

If you suspect your unvaccinated dog has come into contact with the virus, it's best to immediately take him to the vet. There is no home treatment for parvo, and most dogs that are not treated will die. Treatment options include antibiotics, antiviral drugs, IV fluids, and plasma transfusions. In terms of prevention, there’s always vaccination—the number one means to avoid this fatal disease. Parvo can be deadly, but many dogs recover with proper treatment if caught early.

During Recovery Time

Recovery time is vital for a dog that survived the uphill battle against parvo. That's why you have to:

  • Encourage your pet to drink as much as possible and provide IV fluids as necessary.
  • Visit the vet for regular checkups and for additional care and treatment.
  • Give oral or injectable medications until you see an improvement in voluntary liquid intake.
  • Disinfect objects that have come into contact with saliva or stool.
  • Recovering pets should become socialized again by encouraging them to interact with other healthy animals and people.

Vaccinate Your Dog Regularly

The best way to prevent parvo is through annual vaccination booster shots administered by your veterinarian. Keeping your pet's vaccinations up-to-date is an essential thing that can protect your furry companion from many dangerous and potentially fatal diseases.

It's really heartbreaking to see your furry friend in pain. In case you want to have a pet, but you don't want to suffer the agony of potentially losing them to parvo, get one of Perfect Petzzz's lifelike pups

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