Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease

May 24, 2013

By Dr. Mike Kelley, DVM, MS

Parvovirus is a highly  contagious disease that can cause severe illness and death in dogs. It is spread through contact with infected stool and contaminated surfaces. Parvovirus can live on surfaces for months, in the dirt for up to a year and is resistant to many cleaners and disinfectants. Dogs begin to show signs 7-10 days after exposure to an infected dog or to contaminated areas.

Santa Paula has a high incidence of Parvovirus cases because of our mild climate and large number of unvaccinated dogs.  This deadly disease can be prevented by understanding what it is and how we can prevent it. 


* Diarrhea

* Vomiting

* Weakness

* Loss of appetite

A simple test has been developed which can be done quickly at the veterinary hospital with results ready in a few minutes. This is important so your veterinarian can tell if it’s Parvo or some other illness.

Treatment-If your young dog/puppy shows any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately. Trying to care for Parvo at home is extremely difficult since the patient can’t keep medication or fluids down so must be treated with injectable medications and fluid therapy. Some pets may need hospitalization and critical care to survive. Delaying care can result in more severe illness and increase your pet’s chance of dying.

Prevention- the best way to protect your dog is to make sure it is kept away from possible contamination until it is fully and properly vaccinated for the disease. 

* Puppies and unvaccinated dogs must be kept away from public areas and from contact with other unvaccinated dogs until they have completed the entire vaccine schedule

•  Keep at home- do not take to parks, other homes, beaches

•  Do not allow other  dogs to visi tyour  home

•  Visitors should wash hands before petting or handling your puppy

* Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for vaccinations 

• Puppies need a series of vaccinations starting at 8 weeks of age, usually until 16 weeks

• Adult dogs who haven’t been vaccinated usually need 1 vaccine followed by a booster 3-4 weeks later.

• Regular boosters are recommended after the initial course.

Some dogs may be more prone to getting this disease and suffer more severe signs. Some breeds, such as Dobermans, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers may still run a risk despite proper vaccination. Usually, dogs who contract Parvo after getting their full series of vaccinations suffer a milder form and many can recover more quickly.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.