The highly contagious
Parvovirus in Dogs
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Diagnosing Canine Parvovirus
This presentation by: Tippy
Canine Parvovirus or CPV is a very contagious virus that
affects domestic dogs and any other member of the dog family
including foxes, wolves, and etcetera. There are two forms
of this particular disease: Cardiac CPV also known as
Myocardial CPV, and Intestinal CPV.
The more well known type of Canine Parvovirus is Intestinal
CPV, which affects the gastrointestinal tract and causes the
symptoms listed below:
- Bloody Stool
- Lack of Energy
Myocardial CPV is when the virus attacks the heart muscle
and damages it, resulting in heart failure leading to death.
This particular CPV is rare and is usually only seen in
unborn puppies or puppies that are less than eight weeks of
There are many different types of Canine Parvovirus although
they can be broken into two different types. The virus
itself adapts and changes, making it very hard to eliminate
in the general canine population. Parvovirus B19 is zoonotic
and causes a fifth disease also known as Erythema
Infectiosum in humans.
CPV was first identified and cataloged in 1978. Currently,
the CPV-2a and the CPV-2b strains of the Canine Parvovirus
are found in dogs all over the world. Most Canine Parvovirus
cases are infected with one of the two strains of CPV listed
There is a similar virus that affects cats. It is also known
as Feline Distemper and other species of animals are
similarly affected by different forms of this virus.
In eighty percent of Parvovirus cases the infected dog does
not exhibit any symptoms at all. If the dog does develop the
disease, symptoms will show up within ten days after
exposure to CPV.
Canine Parvovirus - Causes and Risk Factors
CPV, also known as Canine Parvovirus is most often caused by
an infection of CPV-2a or CPV-2b virus. All dogs at every
stage of life can get CPV. Puppies that are under sixteen
weeks of age are more likely to develop a severe case of
When a puppy is born it receives antibodies from the mother
dog through the mother's milk. But once the
puppy is weaned
the immunity to CPV wears off and the puppy is left with no
defense against CPV. Because the puppy's immune system is so
weak chances of surviving the virus are very slim.
Dogs that are housed with many other dogs such as at a
shelter or kennel are at increased risk of becoming infected
with CPV, especially if there is overcrowding or unsanitary
conditions. Certain breeds of dog that already have poor
health are at high risk for developing a severe case of CPV
Canine Parvovirus is a serious disease that has symptoms
that show up within three to ten days of exposure. Usually
if a dog is infected with CPV it shows no signs or symptoms
of having the disease. In puppies the disease is often fatal
and in some cases the puppy will show no symptoms and then
just suddenly die.
Symptoms and signs of CPV include the following:
- Bloody diarrhea (often severe)
- Lethargy (lack of energy)
- Loss of appetite
- Malaise (discomfort associated with illness)
- Rapid weight loss
If the dog doesn't receive treatment right away the disease
can kill the dog within two to three days. It is important
that if your dog develops any of the listed symptoms above
you seek medical attention immediately.
There are secondary complications that go along with this
virus including dehydration, secondary infections, sepsis
and intussusception, in which part of the intestine slips
into the part below it. CPV can also cause damage to the
spleen. Dogs that already have a health condition that
compromises the immune system are at increased risk of
developing a severe case of CPV and secondary complications
to the disease.
Diagnosing Canine Parvovirus
Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is spread through contact with
infected stool, contaminated surfaces or through saliva.
Once the virus is ingested it begins to grow and multiply
and then spreads to the blood stream and from there to the
After three days it reaches the digestive tract. Once it
reaches the gastrointestinal tract it starts to spread and
shed the infection. This will continue for five to seven
days in the dog's stool.
Canine Parvovirus is a very serious disease and affects dogs
all over the world. Incidences of this disease are higher in
facilities like shelters that regularly house dogs. CPV
strikes at all ages and can kill within a matter of days.
The most severe cases are reported in puppies under the age
of sixteen weeks.
Diagnosing a dog with Canine Parvovirus is usually based on
physical examination, symptoms and laboratory tests. When
bloody stool, vomiting and loss of appetite occur suddenly
in dogs and puppies that have not been vaccinated against
the virus, Parvovirus is the leading suspect.
Upon physical examination a dog may show signs of
dehydration associated with diarrhea and vomiting. Lethargy,
dry gums, sunken eyes, rapid heartbeat and concentrated
urine are all signs of dehydration. The dog may also exhibit
swollen lymph nodes, fever, abdominal discomfort and loss of
The laboratory tests include a blood test to detect a low
white blood cell count and other tests to detect the virus
such as looking at the blood through an electron microscope
and the ELISA test. ELISA also known as enzyme-linked
immunosorbent assay, detects the presence of the virus in
When a dog is vaccinated with the live virus the ELISA test
may come back with a false positive.
It is important that if your dog shows any signs of CPV that
you take it immediately to the veterinarian to be tested and
start treatment. It is imperative that the dog receive
treatment as soon as possible for the dog to have a chance
of surviving. If your dog has survived major infection and
is healthy with no other illness then it has a good chance
Treatment of Canine Parvovirus
There is no known cure for canine parvovirus, also known as
CPV. The treatment goal is to relieve the symptoms and
prevent any secondary infections or complications. It is
important to begin treatment as soon as possible as the
disease progresses very quickly.
Usually hospitalization is required and treatment involves
IV fluids, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and
anti-nausea medicines. Dogs that are infected with CPV must
be kept warm and dry. They need to be kept away from other
dogs and they shouldn't get any exercise as they need to
conserve their energy.
Even if started right away, treatment for CPV isn't always
successful. Dogs that recover from the infection should show
improvement within two to three days.
Puppies that become infected with CPV most often do not
survive even with the best of care. Adult dogs that get
prompt medical attention and survive acute infection usually
have a good prognosis. Severe infection with the virus
usually has a poor outcome. Cardiac CPV most often results
in death. Dogs that manage to survive CPV can still infect
other dogs for up to two months, and ground where an
infected dog has defecated may be contaminated for over six
The only way to prevent the disease right now is through
vaccination. There are two types of vaccinations that you
can give your dog: live and inactivated. It is recommended
that puppies receive their first vaccination against CPV at
eight weeks of age and then every three to four weeks until
four months of age. You should be aware however that
vaccination does not guarantee that you dog will not catch
CPV, it simply gives the dog a better chance of avoiding or
surviving the disease.
Puppies who are over the age of four months should receive
three vaccinations three to four weeks apart. It is
important to make sure that your dog's vaccinations are
always kept up to date. Once your dog gets through the first
round of Parvovirus vaccination it is then recommended that
you dog receive an update vaccination every year.
CPV is spread through infected stool more often than not,
which is why it is very important to maintain good hygiene
to prevent infection. CPV can live on surfaces for up to a
year and usually a bleach solution consisting of one part
bleach and thirty parts water is required to kill the virus.
Be sure to only walk your puppy where a lot of other dogs
haven't been, to avoid exposing your puppy to CPV. Parks,
highway rest stops, kennels, grooming facilities and
obedience classes are all examples of places in which a lot
of dogs congregate. You should also prevent your dog from
coming into contact with other dog's stool. Maintain proper
disposal of your own dog's waste matter to help prevent the
A compromised Immune System actually is
making a home
parasites and insects!
It's Time to Energize
your Dog's immune system
Keep your Dog
Happy & Healthy