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Canine Parvovirus (CPV), commonly known as Parvo, is a highly contagious serious viral disease that affects dogs.  Seen primarily in unvaccinated puppies, it’s highly contagious and can be fatal.

The virus manifests itself in two forms:

  1. Intestinal form: This is the more common form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, and lack of appetite.
  2. Cardiac form: This is the less common form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death.



This disease is extremely contagious and easily transmittable in dogs through:

  • Contact with infected faeces
  • dog-dog contact
  • Contact with contaminated environments via people: Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for up to an year, and may survive on objects such as kennels, food bowls, leashes, collars, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors.
  • Breeding kennels and dog shelters that hold a large number of inadequately vaccinated puppies are particularly hazardous places.



CPV causes similar symptoms in all infected puppies and dogs:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Severe foul smelling and often bloody diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite.

Once dogs are infected, dehydration can occur very quickly due to vomiting and diarrhoea. Parvo proves mostly fatal within 48 to 72 hours after the onset of symptoms, which is why it’s critical that you take your dog to a veterinary hospital immediately if he shows any signs of the infection. This is especially dangerous in very young puppies.


Parvo is treated symptomatically. Treatment of an infected dog consists of extensive hospitalization with immediate delivery of supportive care, including replacing fluids and electrolytes, controlling vomiting and diarrhoea, and preventing secondary infections till the immune system can win the battle against the infection.

Since the disease is so contagious, affected dogs should be isolated to minimize spread of infection

It is important to note that treatment is not always successful-so it’s especially important to make sure your dog is vaccinated.

Which dogs are susceptible?

Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. Breeds at a higher risk are Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers and German shepherds.

Prevention through Vaccination

You can protect your pooch from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations.  The canine parvovirus vaccine is considered a core vaccine, meaning all dogs should receive this vaccine. This vaccine is administered by subcutaneous injection.

Recommended Schedule:

While your veterinarian is always the best guide for making vaccination decisions, the American Animal Hospital Association’s vaccination guidelines 2011 recommend the following schedule for Canine Parvo (CPV-2) vaccination:

Initial vaccination in puppies < 16 weeks of age

  • Starting at 6 weeks, vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks (6, 10, 14 or 8, 12, 16 weeks) up to 14 or 16 weeks; final shot should be given between 14 and 16 weeks to minimize risk of maternal antibody interference

Initial vaccination in dogs > 16 weeks of age

  • One dose


  • For puppies who received initial vaccination series by 16 weeks, a booster no later than 1 year after completion of initial series, then ≥ 3 years thereafter
  • For dogs who received initial vaccination after 16 weeks of age, every ≥ 3 years thereafter

Talk to your vet and make sure your pet is up-to-date on his vaccinations.

Other Measures:

Since Parvovirus can live in an environment for months, you will want to take extra care if there has been an infected dog in your house. Even with excellent cleaning, parvovirus can be difficult to eradicate.  Parvo is resistant to many typical disinfectants.

  • A solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water can be used where organic material is not present.
    • The infected dog’s toys, food dish and water bowl should be properly cleaned and then disinfected with this solution for 10 minutes. If not disinfected, these articles should be discarded.
    • You can also use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you've walked through an infected area.
    • Areas that are harder to clean (grassy areas, carpeting and wood, for example) may need to be sprayed with disinfectant, or even resurfaced.


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