A Guide to Parvo Vaccine Options

When it comes to immunizing your dog against Parvovirus, there are several parvo vaccine options to be considered. These variations are necessary in order to effectively immunize puppies and dogs against parvo.


Parvovirus or parvo is a viral disease that attacks rapidly dividing cells like those in the digestive tract and developing white blood cells. Parvovirus primarily affects puppies and adolescent dogs because their immune system is still developing. While puppies do obtain some of their mother's immunities through the consumption of cholostrum milk (the milk the mother initially produces for the puppies that contains her antibodies) there is a problem with the mother's immunities to parvo and the immunizing puppies against the disease. When a puppy receives his immunization against parvo, for whatever reason, the mother's antibodies against parvo render the immunization ineffective, leaving the puppy vulnerable to the disease.

Parvo Vaccine Options

When trying to prevent parvo, there are vaccine options that a veterinarian takes into consideration when determining the specific treatment method.

Vaccine can be provided in a live and weakened state or in killed virus. In either instance, the virus is inactive. Killed vaccine is less effective against maternal antibodies and so is not recommended for use on puppies. Killed vaccine also has several stabilizing agents in it, more frequently causing vaccination reactions than the live vaccine. Killed vaccine is only recommended for dogs with questionable immune systems and only if they are adult dogs.

High titer vaccine is a vaccine that contains higher levels of the virus than in the standard vaccine. When a puppy is immunized, the mother's antibodies bind to the virus in the vaccine to kill it. With the high titer vaccine, there is still some of the virus left in the puppies system, stimulating the puppy's immune system to start producing its own antibodies to kill the weakened virus. Puppy vaccinations are recommended every 2 to 4 weeks until the age of 16 weeks or until 20 weeks if the mother has been well vaccinated and her antibodies are at high levels.

Adult dogs are vaccinated with the standard parvo vaccine. The frequency of parvo vaccinations in adult dogs is dependent upon the veterinarian's preference and whether the dog is predisposed to parvo. Classically, the parvo vaccine is given once every year, but research is showing that most dogs only require revaccination every 3 years. Another factor affecting when to revaccinate is breed predisposition to parvo. Breeds such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and American Pit Bull Terriers tend to be predisposed to the disease and many veterinarians are recommending vaccination every 6 months.

Whether starting puppy vaccinations or getting your adult dog revaccinated, your veterinarian is the best resource to determine how frequently and what type of vaccine to use with your dog. If you live in a region with a high incidence of parvo, your veterinarian may recommend annual vaccination in order to prevent infection. Parvo is a hardy disease and currently there is no cure for it and only supportive measures such as rehydration and providing comfort for the puppy or dog are the standard treatment. Use of the appropriate vaccine will help your dog avoid contracting parvovirus and will help prevent the spread of this disease.