What You Need to Know About Parvo in Puppies

Puppies can be susceptible to many illnesses because they do not have fully developed immune systems. Parvo is a common virus in puppies, and it is hazardous to unvaccinated pups.

It is essential to protect your puppy from parvo with the parvo vaccination. It is rare for vaccinated pups to get parvo. During the time before your puppy is vaccinated, keep them away from places they can encounter the virus, like the dog park or puppy training classes.

As a pet parent, it is crucial to know how to protect the health of your sweet fur baby. If you would like to discover more about parvo in puppies, check out this article.

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What is Parvo?

Canine parvovirus is a contagious infection of dogs that causes gastrointestinal sickness in puppies. The disease usually arises in puppies between 6 and 20 weeks old. It proliferates by direct interaction with an infected pup or indirect contact with an infected item.

Every time puppies lick, sniff, or ingest infected feces; your puppy is in direct contact with parvo. The American Kennel Club states that indirect transmission with parvo takes place when an individual who has  been exposed to an infected canine comes into contact with the puppy or if the puppy encounters a tainted object such as:

  • Water or food bowl
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Clothing of someone who has touched an infected dog

The illness attacks the puppy’s gut and causes them to become very sick. Parvo is especially harmful to unvaccinated puppies under six months old. Even though it is more common in puppies, older dogs, especially unvaccinated dogs, are also at risk.

Why Are Puppies More Susceptible to Parvo? puppies and parvo lake city fl

Puppies are more susceptible to parvo because they do not have a fully developed immune system. Until a puppy reaches the age of around six months, they can easily contract illnesses. Therefore, you should limit or restrict your puppy from certain places and keep them away from other dogs until they have been protected with the vaccine. A list of places to avoid includes:

  • Dog parks
  • Obedience class
  • Kennels
  • Animal shelters

Pups younger than six weeks still have some of Mom’s antibodies if the mother was vaccinated. However, if the mother is unvaccinated, it poses a risk to the young puppy. Puppies are vaccinated for parvo when they are 6, 8, and 12 weeks old. Then, they should receive the canine parvovirus vaccine again between 14 and 16 weeks. All of their shots are required to be protected from parvo.

What Are the Signs of Parvo in Puppies?

There are stages to the illness that are present with different symptoms. Some common symptoms are seen in the infected pup. The following include the overall symptoms of parvo in puppies:

  • Anorexia
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

The severity of parvo differs in each pup. Weaning can lead to extreme stress in puppies and weaken their immune systems, strengthening the symptoms. A combination of parvo with other illnesses can make parvo worse for puppies. If you see any of the above symptoms, you need to get your pup to the vet right away.

What Are the Stages of Parvo?

Most puppies recover from parvo and retain lifelong protective immunity from the disease with proper and timely medical care. You need to understand the stages of parvo to recognize the symptoms of the illness. The following includes the stages of parvo in puppies:


The puppy may be exposed to the virus in various ways, as they may have come in direct or indirect contact with it and become infected. The infection may have come from the mother dog or contact with the virus or a contaminated item or person.


There is an incubation phase in which the dog has been infected, but they are not yet showing symptoms. The virus locates the most rapidly dividing cells in the body and starts attacking areas, such as the lymph nodes of the throat. When it is successful in its mission, the virus can multiply and interfere with other areas of the pup’s system.

The most vulnerable areas include the bone marrow and gastrointestinal system. It specifically targets the cells that envelope the walls of the small intestines. In rare occurrences, parvovirus can harm younger puppies with a heart condition called myocarditis.


The virus attacks the bone marrow, and immunity becomes compromised. The body cannot protect itself, and the virus invades the gastrointestinal system. The virus strikes the lining of the small intestine. It prevents the pup from absorbing nutrients, stimulates fluid loss in the stool, and prompts bacteria to move into the gut. Some of the warning signs of the infection include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Sepsis

The above symptoms are severe and require immediate medical attention. If your dog demonstrates these symptoms, notify the vet before you come in so that the staff can take precautions and protect other dogs.

Treating Puppies Infected with Parvo

parvo treatment for dogs

Parvo treatment in puppies usually requires them to be hospitalized in a veterinary hospital. Even though there is no cure for parvo, there are some actions that your vet can take to help alleviate the symptoms. Your puppy will be given supportive care to treat the secondary effects of the illness. Your vet will treat symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

They will also make sure that your puppy receives nutrition during this time. They will receive IV fluids to help maintain electrolytes. Parvo reduces the effectiveness of your puppy’s immunity and lowers their white blood cell count, resulting in the inability to fight off secondary infections.

Your vet may give your puppy antibiotics to fight the infections. The following are given through IV medication:

  • Potassium
  • Dextrose
  • Anti-biotics
  • Anti-nausea
  • Pain medicine

The doctor will observe your puppy, ensuring they do not become worse. Nursing care of the puppies is crucial. The doctor will monitor their heart rate, blood pressure, and hydration status. It is also essential to check the puppy’s gums to ensure they are a good color.

It is important to note that even though parvo can be fatal, puppies that a veterinarian treats have a much higher survival rate, which is between 68 to 92 percent. Recovery time is different for each dog, and it usually depends on the severity of the illness.

The Importance of the Parvo Vaccine

Your puppy must receive the parvo vaccine and other vaccines required for their health. Vaccines are grouped at specific ages in a puppy’s life. When your puppy receives their vaccine for parvo, they should also obtain their vaccines for distemper and parainfluenza.

The state in which you live, your puppy’s circumstances, and age dictate when your puppy should get their vaccinations. However, there are generally agreed-upon rules of the puppy vaccination schedule for the first year. You need to take your puppy’s vaccinations seriously to give them the best protection possible.


Parvo is an awful but preventable disease that is seen mostly in puppies. Make sure your puppy receives their parvo vaccine, as it is the best way to preserve the health of your precious pup.

Do you have more questions regarding parvo in pups? Reach out to Lake City Animal Hospital in Lake City, FL at (386) 755-0236 or make an appointment online!

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