Signs of Parvo in Puppies

Signs of parvo in puppies may resemble symptoms of many other infections or viruses, but it's important to keep a close eye on what's going on so that you can provide a sick puppy with proper medical attention as soon as possible. Parvo can be a serious and fatal disease. If a dog's immune system is healthy and functioning, it's quite possible that the virus can be fought off naturally without ever producing symptoms.

Puppies have immune systems which are still immature and susceptible to many different types of infection. Therefore, noticing symptoms early can help to prevent serious complications and death.


Parvovirus is highly contagious and can be contracted through infected feces and spread quickly. This virus can contaminate floors, clothing and food bowls and can survive for many months. Signs of parvo don't begin to show up for 1 to 2 weeks after a dog or puppy contracts the disease, so it becomes important to keep areas cleaned and disinfected to help prevent infection and spread of the virus.

If there is a dog with parvovirus in the area, it should be quarantined and kept away from all other canines inside the house or in the neighborhood. Even with available vaccinations for the parvovirus, a puppy will still have a window of time where exposure to this virus is imminent. Be sure to research possible complications and side effects of the vaccine before you make a final decision. 

Signs of Parvo in Puppies

The most common signs of parvo in puppies result from the intestinal form of the virus. Puppies are likely to experience:

  • severe vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • bloody stools
  • loss of appetite

More advanced cases can produce high fever, dehydration and a low white blood cell count.

If other bacteria, parasites or infection is present, symptoms can worsen quickly and recovery period will be slow. Puppies younger than 6 months are at higher risk of having complications with this virus, and puppies younger than 12 weeks are likely to experience the most severe symptoms or death.

Treatment of Parvo in Puppies

As soon as signs of parvo begin to show in a puppy, action must be taken. Symptoms can resemble those of many other infections, viruses or conditions, but whenever a puppy refuses to eat or acts in a sickly manner, it could potentially be serious.

There is no cure for parvovirus, and treatment will likely center on preventing or alleviating the most deadly symptoms, such as dehydration and secondary infections. Large amounts of necessary fluid can be lost quickly with severe diarrhea and vomiting. This must be replaced either intravenously or subcutaneously.

Oral fluids may be given, but this is not the preferred method, and extremely severe cases may require a blood transfusion. Antibiotics may be given to treat or prevent the onset of bacterial infections. Vomiting can sometimes be lessened with medication and restriction of food can help with this as well.