Parvovirus in dogs

Parvovirus in dogs is one of the most common contagious diseases in dogs, and especially in puppies. This is a crippling defect (30-day redhibition period and 5-day suspicion period). A defect is a defect in the purchased animal. The crippling defects are listed on a list which is established by decree. It is therefore not for the parties to qualify a defect as crippling. But, only to prove that there is one.

Parvovirus is a very serious infectious disease which affects the digestive system (vomiting, diarrhea) and which can quickly lead to the death of the affected animal.

It mainly affects puppies between 6 weeks and 6 months. But, it can affect dogs of all ages, mainly in case of faulty vaccination. Emergency hospitalization will still require.

Causes de parvovirose

The virus responsible for this infection is extremely contagious. It can persist for a long time in the external environment (over a year!) And is not destroyed by the most common disinfectants.

All these characteristics explain the specific hygiene precautions in a veterinary environment and the immediate isolation of the animal in the event of suspicion of parvovirus. The aim of these measures is to avoid as much as possible the spread of the virus and the contamination of other dogs.

The virus is transmitted by fecal-oral route, by direct contact between dogs or, more frequently, via surfaces or objects soiled by contaminated stool or vomit (floors, shoes, hands, clothes, coat, bowls, etc.). A simple cleaning does not disinfect!

Symptoms and prognosis

The first signs of parvovirus in dogs are not very characteristic (fever, depression, loss of appetite). But the disease progresses very quickly with the appearance of intensive and repeated vomiting, followed by profuse diarrhea, with the odor. foul-smelling, and in half of the cases, hemorrhagic.

A rapid deterioration in the dog’s condition then manifests itself, due in particular to considerable dehydration and weight loss.

In addition, secondary bacterial infections can occur due to this generalized weakening and cause serious complications (sepsis).

If no treatment will implement, the death of the dog will be inevitable (very low survival rate).

Healing, when possible, occurs 4 to 5 days after the onset of symptoms (hospitalization can therefore be quite long). It will then be complete and without sequelae.

Otherwise, the outcome will be fatal on average in 48 to 72 hours (in a few hours in the lightning form). The mortality rate can range from 10 to 50% depending on the conditions.

The prognosis is still very reserved for the first 3 days. But we consider that a dog that passes the 4th day has a good chance of succeeding.

Following infection, the animal will be protected for several years against the virus.

Diagnosis and treatment of parvovirus

Treatment will begin immediately in the face of any doubtful symptom. But diarrhea and vomiting are common to many digestive pathologies.

It is then the information provided to the veterinarian that will guide the diagnosis. The diagnosis includes vaccination status, stay in a community, etc. Confirmation of parvovirus will only obtain through a test carried out in a clinic. It will also confirm through a blood sample sent to a specialized laboratory.

The therapeutic measures put in place will be purely symptomatic because no curative treatment exists against viral infections.

The goal of this supportive treatment will be to limit the effects of the virus on the body, in order to allow time for the animal’s defenses to be put in place.

The healthcare team’s priority will be to put the dog on a drip in order to correct the losses, then to allow the administration of the therapeutic arsenal directly by the intravenous route (no oral treatment due to vomiting): anti-emetics , anti-acids, antibiotics and, if necessary, painkillers.

A total dog diet will initiate. But early oral refeeding will increase the chances of survival, speed of recovery and weight gain.

Accelerated improvement and healing can obtain with a drug (interferon) that stimulates the immune system, but its high cost limits its systematic use.

Parvovirus in dogs


Once recovered, the animal, especially if it is a very young puppy, should be kept under surveillance for a few weeks.

Indeed, the disease will have damaged the dog’s immune system, making it particularly sensitive to any other infection, and it will be necessary to ensure a return to a normal weight, a specific diet being often necessary.

It will also be necessary to take care to set up a correct deworming and vaccination if it has not already been done.

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Prevention of parvovirus in dogs

Neither the speed of intervention, nor the treatment itself, can guarantee the survival of the animal. So the best method of fighting parvovirus is prevention!

Indeed, if the parvovirus can affect any dog, there are nevertheless risk factors that increase the probability of developing the disease and that it manifests with greater severity.

There is thus an increased susceptibility to the disease, with a higher mortality rate, in dogs:

  • youth,
  • with uncertain vaccination status,
  • parasite,
  • in contact with many congeners (shelters, dog show, breeding,
  • hunt…,
  • sick, malnourished or weakened,
  • purebred (predispositions in Rottweiler, Labrador, American Staffordshire terrier, German Shepherd, Pinscher, Doberman).

For example, unvaccinated or poorly vaccinated dogs have a significantly higher risk of contracting parvovirus than an animal whose vaccination protocol has been properly conducted. Likewise, a puppy born to an unvaccinated mother will have an almost total risk of not resisting infection if contaminated within the first few weeks of life (as it will not benefit from maternal antibody protection). .

It is therefore essential, in order to protect your companion as well as possible:

  • to respect the correct follow-up of his vaccination,
  • ensure regular deworming,
  • and to provide him with a complete and balanced diet, according to the recommendations of your veterinarian who will know how to determine the measures most adapted to your dog, according to the conditions (puppy coming from a shelter, epidemic in progress…). For example, he may recommend “reinforced” vaccination (up to the age of 20-22 weeks) for susceptible breeds.

It is also important to remember that these precautions are necessary throughout the life of the animal, with particular attention to young, old, sick or convalescent animals, due to a less powerful immune system than an adult. healthy.