Parvo Dog Disease Symptoms

Parvo dog disease symptoms include bloody diarrhea, dehydration and vomiting. Parvo is a serious, and often deadly, disease of puppies and dogs that's caused by the canine parvovirus. The canine parvovirus is very contagious and the prognosis for this disease is very poor. Here's what you should know about canine parvovirus and the symptoms of parvo dog disease.

Canine Parvovirus and Its Transmission

Canine parvovirus is easily the most common infectious disease affecting American dogs. While vaccinations exist, the canine parvovirus is constantly mutating and evolving, and for this reason some dogs who have been previously vaccinated against canine parvovirus may contract dog parvo disease, sicken and die anyway.

Canine parvovirus is very contagious. It's spread through contact with an infected dog's feces. The virus can survive on clothing, food bowls, and other personal effects of an infected dog for five months or more. Insects and rodents can help to spread the disease if they're allowed access to infected stool. Once in the dog's body, the virus incubates for 7 to 14 days and the infected dog remains contagious for up to two weeks after symptoms appear.

Symptoms of Dog Parvo Disease

Most cases of canine parvovirus infection occur in puppies less than six months of age. Symptoms are more severe in young puppies because their immune systems are not fully matured. Adult dogs may become infected with the parvovirus and show few or no symptoms.

Symptoms of canine parvovirus infection include blood diarrhea, vomiting, fever and lowered immune response. Parvo dog disease can affect dogs of any breed, gender or age. The disease is usually fatal and death can occur as soon as two days after the onset of symptoms.

Diagnosing and Treating Dog Parvo Disease

Dog parvo disease is often misdiagnosed. Your vet will need to perform a blood test to properly diagnose dog parvo. A complete blood count and chemistry panel can determine the severity of your dog's parvo disease.

Canine parvovirus infections are treated with supportive therapy. There's no cure for the virus, but your vet can help increase your dog's chances of recovery with supportive medical care. IV fluids can help stave off the effects of the severe dehydration that parvo dog disease causes. Corticosteroids can relieve the inflammation associated with the disease, and antibiotics can fight secondary infections that may take hold.

If your dog's vomiting is particularly severe, your vet may administer medications to stop the vomiting. In very severe cases, blood transfusions are necessary as dogs battling canine parvovirus may bleed internally.

Prognosis and Immunity

The prognosis for canine parvovirus infections is very poor. Even with the best veterinary care, your dog will most likely succumb to the infection and die. However, if your dog survives, he'll be immune to canine parvovirus for at least 20 months. Many dogs retain immunity to canine parvovirus throughout their lives. 

Canine parvovirus vaccines are designed to protect against the widest range of possible viral mutations, and can prevent most cases of canine parvovirus infection.