Canine Parvovirus


In this article we are going to look at canine parvovirus.

We take a look at the canine parvovirus survival rate, and what you can expect if your dog is suffering.

We will also help you to make sure you know how to spot the symptoms, what treatment will entail.

And how to keep your dog safe from this potentially fatal condition.

Keeping Labrador free from infectious diseases like parvovirus is one of the keys to maintaining good Labrador health.

So let’s start off by looking at what parvo actually is.

What Is Parvovirus?

Parvovirus is a very contagious viral disease, which attacks your dog’s rapidly dividing cells in the intestinal tract, white blood cells and can damage heart muscle too.

canine parvovirus, how to protect your puppyHow Do Dogs Catch Parvovirus?

Parvovirus is incredibly infectious, and it is passed between dogs.

The method of transfer is via contact with the faeces of infected dogs.

This method of catching parvo is why it tears so quickly through boarding kennels and litters of puppies.

They are in close contact with each other and therefore in close and repeated contact with each other’s waste as well.

Canine parvovirus is especially dangerous in young puppies or older dogs with existing illnesses.

In fact, the very word parvovirus is enough to strike fear into the heart of any Labrador owner with a litter of puppies, or owner of a boarding kennels.

There are two forms of canine parvo. Intestinal and cardiac. We will take a look at each one in turn.

Intestinal Form Of Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus takes two forms,  the intestinal form causes severe vomiting and diahorrea.

0001-129988128This kills largely through dehydration.

The intestinal form of the disease is contracted through infected faeces or soil.

The dog does not have to come into contact with another infected dog to catch the disease.

This is why it is so important not to  put your labrador puppy down on the ground outside your home until he is completely protected by his vaccinations.

The intestinal form,  is the form of parvovirus with which your dog is most likely to come into contact

Cardiac Form Of Parvovirus

The cardiac form of parvovirus kills young puppies very quickly by attacking the heart muscle and can be passed on to the puppy in utero.

This form of the disease is far less common now as a direct result of vaccination programmes

 Symptoms Of Parvovirus?

The signs and symptoms of parvovirus are clear to see when your dog is affected.

The main signs include severe vomitting and incredibly disgusting smelling diarrhea.

Your dog will also seem very lethargic and probably lose his appetite.

The extent of the vomitting and diarrhea cause the dog to become dehydrated, which if left untreated can be fatal.

Canine Parvovirus Treatment

If your dog does catch parvovirus then he will need immediate veterinary treatment.

This will be carried out by your veterinarian at the surgery, and he may have to stay there for several days.

Treatment involves rehydration with intravenous fluids and administration of drugs to prevent vomiting and to attack secondary infections.

But sadly, this is a very serious disease, and  some  dogs will die despite the best efforts of veterinary surgeons.

What Is The Parvo Survival Rate?

The virus which causes canine parvovirus has a 90% mortality rate if untreated.

This is as you can see exceptionally high.

The highest risk group for parvo puppies are very vulnerable to this horrid disease during the time when the immunity acquired from the mother is beginning to wear off,  but before their vaccinations are completely effective.

Which explains why the canine parvovirus survival rate is sadly only 10% in untreated cases.

If your puppy is currently being treated for parvo virus, I hope that you are reassured to hear that with treatment the survival rate is far more encouraging, with estimates ranging from an 80% – 95% canine parvovirus survival rate.

Preventing Canine Parvovirus

There is only one proven and effective way to ensure your dog won’t get parvovirus and that is vaccination.  Alternative  therapies have not been proven to work,  and in some cases have been actively demonstrated to fail.

We are sometimes lulled into a sense of security as the number of dogs affected with these kinds of diseases falls in Western Countries due to effective vaccination programmes.

However,  outbreaks of parvovirus still occur in the UK and the USA every year,  and many unprotected puppies will die if they come into contact with the virus.

They don’t even need to contact dogs carrying the virus, just an area where their waste has been left behind even in trace amounts. So you really can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your puppy and making sure their vaccinations are up to date.

Your vet can advise you on the recommended intervals for vaccination and will vaccinate your Labrador puppy for you, to keep him safe from this horrible disease.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Further Puppy Health Information

For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy puppy don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.

Published in April 2014, the Happy Puppy Handbook covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.

It will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialization and early obedience.

You can buy The Happy Puppy Handbook from Amazon by following this link. If you do, The Labrador Site will receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated and won’t affect the cost to you!

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website