dog attending veterinary clinic appointment

Parvo in dogs: does my dog have canine parvovirus?

Chances are your vet will already have stressed the importance of annual vaccinations to protect your dog against canine parvovirus, and parvovirus enteritis (PVE) – also known as parvo. But what is canine parvovirus, and how can you recognise the symptoms of parvo in your dog?

What is canine parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus and PVE are common, serious and highly contagious diseases spread by direct contact with an infected dog, or with their faeces.  It is frequently fatal in puppies and elderly dogs.  Parvo can be spread by other animals – including cats, who can also become infected.  

Protecting your dog with a parvo vaccination

Your dog’s annual injections include vaccination against parvo, so it’s vital to keep these up to protect your pet against this serious infection. Puppies can be vaccinated against canine parvovirus from around six weeks old.
As well as protecting your dog or puppy against this nasty and potentially serious disease, regular vaccination is required by kennels and pet insurers as a condition of cover.

Signs and symptoms of parvo in dogs

Parvo can be hard to identify, as the symptoms are similar to many other infections. If your dog has any of these symptoms, get him to your local vet to be checked out, as parvovirus can’t be treated at home.
Parvo symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Sickness
  • Diarrhoea, often containing blood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration

Is my dog at risk of canine parvovirus?

Even the healthiest of dogs can contract parvo, so it’s vital to be aware of the dangers of this nasty disease. Puppies are most susceptible to infection, due to their underdeveloped immune systems, while dogs that aren’t up to date with their vaccinations are also greatly at risk. Some breeds of dog are more susceptible to parvo, including German Shepherds, Labradors and Rottweilers.

Help! I’ve come into contact with parvovirus

Parvovirus is very resilient and can exist in an environment for years. If you suspect you’ve come into contact with infected faeces, thoroughly sterilise and disinfect any potentially infected areas, as the virus can spread fast on clothing, shoes and hands.

“Even the healthiest of dogs can contract parvo, so it’s vital to be aware of the dangers of this nasty disease.”

Want more information on parvo in dogs?

For expert advice and treatment for canine parvovirus, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.