Canine parvovirus is a common infectious enteritis in dogs. This virus is one of the most resistant viruses known, and can often survive for years in contaminated environments. Parvovirus primarily affects young dogs without sufficient antibody protection (unvaccinated or partially vaccinated puppies). Parvovirus is spread through the fecal-oral route, meaning that it is shed in feces of sick dogs and is ingested from the environment by another dog.
Clinical signs of parvovirus include lethargy, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and inappetence. Infected patients can quickly become dehydrated due to the high fluid loss amounts.
Diagnosis of parvovirus involves a fecal test, with other tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry potentially recommended to further evaluate the condition of the patient.
Because parvovirus is a virus treatment involves IV fluids, injectable medications and supportive care. Prognosis with treatment is high, usually falling between 80-90%, left untreated this virus can be fatal. It is important that infected patients be isolated from other dogs and their environments be thoroughly cleaned/disinfected to prevent the spread of this disease.
Vaccination is the best preventative measure against parvovirus and should be discussed with your veterinarian between 6 and 8 weeks of age. It is important to avoid exposure where other young or unvaccinated dogs frequently visit such as pet stores, dog parks and boarding facilities until your puppy has been fully vaccinated.