Viruses: Parvo in Puppies

Transmission of Parvo in Puppies:

Parvo Virus is a highly resistant type of virus which can tolerate environmental stress and resist common disinfectants and detergents. It can survive for months, thus it is commonly transmitted through direct contact in both adults and puppies. More specifically, the virus can be transmitted through the feces of infected dogs, infected bitches and through indirect fomites (surfaces or other objects that contain the virus).


After ingestion, the virus replicates in the lymphoid tissues, and causes suppression of the immune system. Circulating blood then moves virus particles to the gastrointestinal tract. This causes severe damage to dividing cells in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow.

In unvaccinated puppies other forms of parvovirus infection can cause myocarditis, particularly in unvaccinated puppies. Cardiac tissues are invaded and inflammation is noticed.

Secondary bacterial infections in puppies are commonly caused by E. coli and Salmonella.


Usually, canine parvovirus infection is asymptomatic (show no symptoms). In acute cases, most  puppies die without showing any signs and symptoms.  The occurrence of gastroenteritis is more common in puppies between the ages of 6–15 weeks,  compared to adult dogs. Anorexia (appetite loss), vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and sometimes shock are symptoms which occur  in puppies and are relatively more severe. Feces may appear loose and most cases blood will pass through it, due to hemorrhages in the intestinal walls.

The onset of clinical signs in puppies is usually dependent upon secondary bacterial infections, characterized by fever, the loss of condition and generalized illness. Most  puppies  cannot tolerate viral infections as well as bacterial infection, thus the prognosis for puppy parvo is considered “very poor”.


Clinical signs and history are more helpful in diagnosing parvovirus infections in puppies.  The history of the disease including that of feeding bitches and the surrounding  population, will help to determine if parvovirus should be suspected in the puppies. Clinical signs are helpful, but come  too late to treat the condition effectively.

Laboratory examination is therefore crucial for confirmation. “Enzyme Linked Immuno Suppressant Assay” (ELISA) is the most effective way to confirm parvo virus in puppies if used on the very first day of clinical onset of the disease. Other laboratory options for detecting antibodies, the presence of bacterial toxins and virus particles can help as well.


Fluid therapy is the most important component of treatment. puppies should be administered fluids, such as Ringer’s Lactate solution with 3–5% dextrose in it and additional potassium chloride. The selected route for administration (e.g; intravenous) should be according to the severity of the infection.

Vomiting should be controlled by administering anti–emetic (anti-vomiting) drugs, either orally or intravenously. The puppy should not be given any form of food orally for at least 24 hours. This will help to control the vomiting. Soft, liquid meals such as a prescription diet containing rice and that is low in fat should be provided once the puppy is able to tolerate it. Nutritional components such as proteins, vitamins and minerals can be administered intravenously as well.

Antibiotics are not recommended for dehydrated puppies. Routine usage of antibiotics to control secondary infections should be strictly prohibited. If critical, either ampicillin or amino glycosides should  be used by prescription only.

Prevention in Puppies:

The most effective way to prevent parvo in puppies is the implementation of a vaccination plan. Vaccination has significantly helped to control parvovirus infections. Signs of myocarditis are not common in vaccinated puppies.

Puppies should be vaccinated with modified, live vaccine, containing attenuated canine parvovirus (CPV) at the age of 5 weeks. Doses should be repeated until the puppies reach the age of 16–20 weeks. Annual re vaccination is highly recommended.

There is a homeopathic remedy available that could provide a puppy added  support. The goal of homeopathic treatment is to support the body's natural defenses and to help discourage symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and vomiting. 

One product to consider is Parvo-K, which contains ingredients selected to help puppies suffering from parvovirus. Check with your veterinarian about adding a homeopathic remedy to your puppy's treatment plan so that he or she can advise regarding the use of these products and the health of your puppy.