About Canine Parvovirus (CPV)

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There is a parvo vaccine, so make sure your dog is up-to-date on shots.

Canine parvovirus was first noted in the late 1970s. It is highly contagious, and puppies have the highest mortality.

There is a vaccine, so make sure your dog is up-to-date on shots. In some areas where parvo is prevalent, you may need booster shots every 6 months instead of every year.

Parvovirus comes in several forms:

  • Diarrhea syndrome: Severe depression, loss of appetite, vomiting. Extreme pain. High fever follows with profuse diarrhea. No other disease comes close to matching the amount of diarrhea induced by CPV.
  • Cardiac syndrome: Affects the muscles of the heart, especially in puppies. Puppies stop nursing, cry, and gasp for breath. Death can occur suddenly or after several days. Puppies who recover often develop chronic congestive heart failure that may kill them several months later.

Dogs may have either or both syndromes.

Treating Parvo

Treatment is difficult, requiring hospitalization; those who recover are immune. The puppy must be taken in immediately to the veterinarian for round-the-clock monitoring and IVs to replace the fluids the puppy is losing.

The quarters of an infected dog should be thoroughly sterilized. A solution of 1:30 bleach and water is recommended.

  • As with any use of bleach, make sure you do not mix it with ammonia, which results in mustard gas and can kill you and your dog.
  • Be sure to rinse the bleach off thoroughly after application.

If the puppy survives, he will make a full recovery. There are no lasting effects of the illness, and he will be fully immune to the disease thereafter, assuming a healthy immune system.


Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations. Don’t let a too-young puppy roam where possibly infected dogs have been (for example, in the park). If you have an area (house and/or backyard) that has been exposed to a dog with parvo, you can clean it up with the 3% bleach solution (3 parts bleach to 100 parts water).

Contact with feces or un-vaccinated dogs is the primary source of transmission. Some breeds seem to be especially sensitive to parvo, such as rottweilers.

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