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Parvo in Dogs

Golden Retriever at the Vet


What is Parvo?

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is the most common infectious disorder of dogs in the United States. Parvo is a contagious virus mainly affecting dogs. The disease is highly contagious and is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces.

Parvo can be deadly, especially in puppies, which is why it's so important for your puppy to receive a parvovirus vaccination as part of their multiple-agent vaccine series.

It is recommended to be given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. In some high-risk situations, veterinarians will give the vaccine at two-week intervals, with an additional booster administered at 18 to 22 weeks of age.

Impacted Breeds

Parvo can impact any dog breed, but the follow breeds are at patricular risk if contracted with Parvo.

Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Pit Bull Terriers, English Springer Spaniels, and German Shepherds

Signs & Symptoms

There is a broad range in the severity of symptoms shown by dogs that are infected with CPV. Adult dogs may or may not show any symptoms but the majority of cases of disease are seen in dogs less than 6 months old with the most severe cases seen in puppies younger than 12 weeks old.

It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by vaccination. Parvo shows primarliy in two forms, cardiac and intestinal.

  • The common signs of the intestinal form are severe vomiting and dysentery.
  • The cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies.
Parvo virus does not directly cause death but it causes loss of the lining of the intestinal tract and destroys some blood cell elements. The intestinal damage results in severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and infection in the bloodstream.


Treatment often involves veterinary hospitalization. Fluids and monitoring to manage the damage caused by the virus are needed to maximize survival rate.

Statistically, puppies have a survival rate of 80-95% with treatment, and less than 10% survival rate without treatment.

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