Parvovirus Fast Facts
- Parvovirus infection is a potentially fatal disease that primarily affects young or unvaccinated dogs. It can however affect older dogs, especially those with unknown or incomplete vaccine histories.
- Breeds with an increased risk for parvovirus infections include Rottweiler, Doberman pinscher, Labrador retriever, American Staffordshire terrier, German shepherd, and Arctic sled breeds. Many times we will recommend an additional Parvo-Only vaccine for these breeds at 20 weeks of age. We offer this last Parvo-Only vaccine for free at Idaho Veterinary Hospital.
- Clinical signs include: lethargy, inappetence, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea are typical. Diarrhea is usually hemorrhagic, profuse, and has a fetid smell. Dehydration, fever, and abdominal pain are also common.
- Incubation period for parvovirus infections is approximately 7-14 days and clinical signs can progress quickly. Dogs can continue to she the virus for two weeks past resolution of clinical signs.
- Infection can occur following oronasal exposure with parvovirus feces. Fomites (shoes, clothes, feet of pets, etc) are an important mode of transmission since canine parvovirus (CPV) can persist for months to years under the right environment.
- An in-clinic fecal ELISA test is widely used for diagnosis. A false negative (meaning the test is negative but the dog does have parvovirus) can occur early in the course of the disease or if test is performed >10 days post infection – this means the body has not made antibodies against the virus for the test to detect or the body is trying to clear the infection and the antibodies are to low to detect. Also if your pet is vaccinated recently it can have a weak positive on the ELISA test up to 4-6days. Most dogs with natural infections will show a strong positive result.
- Treatment is based on treating dehydration, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, sepsis, and gastrointestinal support. Hospitalization is the gold standard of care with a higher chance of success for parvovirus cases, however outpatient care is an option as well but success rates are drastically lower.
- Once your dog recovers from a parvovirus infection, vaccinations are still recommended. We recommend giving the vaccine two weeks past resolution and a booster in 4 weeks.