Diagnosing Parvovirus in Dogs

Parvovirus in dogs also known as parvo or CPV2 is more frequent in younger dogs and puppies. The CPV1 is also known as the canine minute virus.

The CPV2 may be transmitted through feces and is a very contagious virus. The virus may have a cardiac and an intestinal form, each with distinct symptoms.

Symptoms of Canine Parvo

The symptoms of the canine parvo depend on the form that the virus takes. If it is an intestinal parvo the symptoms will be the following:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

The symptoms will not be present during the incubation period, which lasts up to 14 days. The virus may also affect the immune system, so the dog may develop secondary infections.

The intestinal form of the virus has similar symptoms to the coronavirus and enteritis or colitis, so clinical testing is needed to pinpoint the diagnosis.

The cardiac parvo will cause breathing difficulties and even respiratory failure. This form may also be accompanied by some symptoms of the intestinal parvo form.

Diagnosing Dog Parvovirus

The easiest way to detect the parvovirus is through the analysis of a feces sample. The tests used to analyze the feces are either enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or the hemagglutination analysis. The feces should contain the CPV2.

Other tests used to diagnose the parvovirus include the polymerase chain reaction test (PCR) and electron microscopy.

The dog will also have a low white blood cell count.

Early diagnosis will increase the chances of survival.

Parvo Treatment

The virus is extremely aggressive and weaker puppies may not survive. The secondary infections or dehydration may be fatal.

If the dog is strong enough and the virus is detected in time, there are chances of survival. The dog will receive IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-nausea injections and analgesics. Severe dehydration must be avoided. So, every time the dog vomits or has diarrhea, the eliminated amount of fluids must be replaced with IV fluids.

The treatment must be aggressive and the dog needs to be hospitalized. The first 2 to 3 days are critical. If the dog responds well to the initial treatment, he is more likely to live.


The canine parvovirus may be prevented by the administration of parvo vaccines. The first vaccine is administrated at 6 weeks and then the puppy should receive 2 or 3 vaccines until he is 16 weeks old.

Keep your dog away from animal feces as much as possible. Make sure that your dog does not get in contact with infected dogs or with environments with parvo infected dogs. The parvovirus may stay alive for over a year in an unclean environment, surviving hot and cold temperatures alike. Bleach is the only substance that can kill the virus.

Parvovirus in dogs is more common in puppies and dogs under the age of 2. Due to vaccinations and a stronger immunity, older dogs will not be susceptible to the virus.