How Do Dogs Get Parvo

How do dogs get parvo?

One of the most deadly diseases every dog owner and vet doctors want their pets not to have is parvo. This is because the disease is common but with dangerous consequences that can lead to the death of your dog. There is no cure for this disease, so you would not want your dog to always go through intensive therapy and nursing care while fighting the virus. It is very important that you know all about this virus, how your dog can contact it, symptoms to look out for and how to treat or manage the disease as well.


Parvo is a contagious virus that can be spread through having direct contact with an infected dog or having an indirect contact with objects that are contaminated. According to an article by the Merck Veterinary Manual in 2020, parvo is a virus that is classified as a disease that affects the stomach and small intestine, it does much damage to these parts of your dog’s body.

When it affects the small intestine, parvo damages the cells within, weaken the absorption of food and disrupts the activities of the gut barrier. Parvo can also attack the lymphopoietic tissues, bone marrow and heart. This disease is common in puppies because their immune systems are still developing or are yet to be developed although it can affect adult dogs.


Any dog with parvo is very sick, so there will be signs that will show and become pronounced. If you are able to notice these signs sooner, you will be able to take your dog to the vet soon. Puppies commonly suffer from this disease, so you should take your pet to a vet if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Weakness
  • High fever
  • Eating disorder or anorexia
  • Frequent stooling with blood stains
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of weight
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Red gums and eyes
  • Low body temperature

If you notice any of these symptoms in your puppy or dog, you should tell your vet immediately and schedule for an appointment. Give your vet enough time to take appropriate quarantine measures to prevent your pet from infecting other dogs.


Dogs can get parvo disease either through direct contact with an infected dog or indirect contact with a contaminated object. You should know that this virus is very strong and can survive in extreme temperatures and is resistant to a lot of household cleaners. This means that if an infected dog poos in a place, your dog can get the virus even if you clean the floor or messed place.

Direct contact can include:

  • Sniffing the faeces of an infected dog
  • Licking or eating infected faeces of another dog

Indirect transmission can be by:

  • Coming in contact (through touches) with a person who has been exposed to an infected dog
  • Touching or coming in contact with contaminated objects like leashes, collar, food or water plate
  • Touching the hands or clothes of people who have come in contact with infected dogs.
How Do Dogs Get Parvo
How Do Dogs Get Parvo


According to Canine Parvovirus, It is possible for dogs to get parvo from the ground.

The virus can live and thrive 

  • on the rug
  • on or under a person’s shoe
  • on a dog bed
  • in a dog house
  • in a contaminated lawn or grass
  • in a snow pile
  • at a dog wash
  • in a kennel carrier
  • in the soil
  • on the floor
  • on the grass
  • on bushes


Dogs cannot get parvo from cats. Parvovirus is specie specific, dogs have their own strains while cats have theirs. The dog staring is known as canine parvovirus while that of a cat is known as feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). Just like the dog strain, feline panleukopenia virau is very deadly to cats but it can never be transferred to dogs. However, you should know that some mutated strain of the canine parvovirus can infect cats with mild signs and symptoms than a dog.


It is not possible for dogs to get parvovirus from humans, this is because this virus is specific to species. Parvovirus cannot be transmitted from humans to dogs neither will dogs spread it to humans. The virus can only stick to the clothes and accessories of humans till it comes in contact with a dog before it can cause damages. 

However, it is important that you apply caution and wear protective equipment when you come in contact with an infected dog. Parvovirus cannot harm you or enter into your body but it can do so when it comes in contact with dogs through your clothes or hands.


Vaccine is a great way to protect your dog from getting the virus but there may be cases where even dogs vaccinated against parvo can get the virus. This can happen if the dog has already been exposed to the virus before he gets all the vaccines. It is expected that puppies get booster vaccines every three to four weeks until 16 weeks of age, this is how the vaccine protocol should be but many dog owners do not know this.

If the vaccines are not given to your puppy through 16 weeks of age, the immune system of your dog may not be fully developed to stand against viruses. Also, if the vaccines were not properly stored, they may be less effective in your puppy’s body. Every vaccine vial must be stored in certain temperatures. For example, parvovirus vaccine must stay between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain efficacy.


Puppies from 6 weeks to 6 months are so vulnerable to contacting parvo. This is because puppies that are under 6 weeks still have some of their mother’s antibodies, that is if the mother was given full parvo vaccine. Puppies are given vaccines when they are 6, 8 and 12 weeks. Not getting the three shots will make them susceptible to the disease, so this means the owners have to make sure that their puppies get the full vaccines to prevent getting parvo.

Also, between 14 to 16 weeks of age, puppies should receive another dose of canine parvovirus vaccine even if they have completed the full dose before. According to American Kennel Club, there are certain breed of dogs that are at an increased risk of contacting parvo, these breeds are:

  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • English Springer Spaniels


Within four to five days of being exposed to parvo disease, puppies and dogs will start to shed the virus. The symptoms may not start to show at this time, your dog may have already been contagious before the signs start to show.

Even 10 days after clinical recovery, your dog will continue to shed the virus so you must quarantine recovering dogs from unvaccinated and partially vaccinated dogs. Also, use a cleaner proven to kill parvovirus to remove the virus from your home and environment.


Your vet will first check the symptoms your dog have before running blood tests. Another test known as ELISA will be conducted to search for virus antigens in your dog’s feaces. More tests and diagnosis may be carried out as well. You should know that there is no cure for this disease, so your dog will have to be given supportive care to treat the symptoms your dogs are experiencing. Adequate nutrition will be given also to hydrate your pet and stop diarrhea and vomiting.

Your dog will also be placed on antibiotic medication treatment to prevent secondary infection. Parvo virus will make your dog’s immune system to be weak and unable to fight against other diseases. So, it will be easier for bacterial infections to attack your dog’s immune system as well. The antibiotics will help your dog to fight while the vet continue to monitor for other complications.

Parvo is a disease that can lead to the death of your pet however about 68 to 92 percent of puppies treated by a vet survives. Your dog may recover if it survives the first three-to-four days make a complete recovery. It may take about a week for your dog to recover from parvo although this is dependent on how severe the disease was.


Preventing parvo is better than treating the disease. The first step is to make sure that all bitches that are for breeding gets full vaccines for parvo, this will help the puppies to have strong antibodies few weeks after birth. Do not allow your puppies to come in contact with unvaccinated dogs till they have gotten full dose of their vaccine. Vaccinate all your dog’s before allowing them to socialize with other dogs or go to public places.


Parvo is a very deadly disease that can lead to the death of your pet if not handled properly. This virus can be transferred to your dog either through direct contact with an infected dog or indirect contact contaminated objects. Immediately you notice any of the symptoms, you should see your vet for treatment and prevention of contamination to other dogs.

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