Symptoms of Parvovirus in Dogs

Updated on September 23, 2016

As a pet owner we often think that just because our animals have been vaccinated against illness, means they will not get it. That particular way of thinking could not be further from the truth. Parvovirus for example is highly contagious. Even though you are a good pet owner and made sure to keep up with vaccinations for your dog, they can still contract parvovirus.

Knowing the symptoms of parvovirus may help you to take swift action and pursue the correct treatment for you dog. Parvovirus is often deadly, though with early detection and aggressive treatment it is very possible that your dog will survive.


Vomiting is one of the warning signs of parvovirus. Though vomiting may have additional causes like an upset stomach, or your dog ingesting something that did not agree with them. It is very important to stay aware of any vomiting that occurs with your dog. Vomiting of any kind is always something you need to discuss with your veterinarian.

While vomiting may not always mean your dog has parvovirus. It is always something of concern for a dog owner. You may find that a change in diet is the culprit to causing your dog to vomit. Whatever the case you should always take any vomiting seriously, just as you would if it were you who was sick.

iSnow-Med Non contact Infrared Pet Thermometer for Cat, Dog, Big ear animal, Measure Veterinary Ear Temperature in 1 s, Pet body Mode / Object Surface Mode (Bath, Milk) available, C/F switchable
iSnow-Med Non contact Infrared Pet Thermometer for Cat, Dog, Big ear animal, Measure Veterinary Ear Temperature in 1 s, Pet body Mode / Object Surface Mode (Bath, Milk) available, C/F switchable

When trying to decide if your dog has a fever it is important to use a pet thermometer to check their temperature. I use this easy digital ear thermometer at home. It is much easier than trying to take a rectal temperature on a sick dog.



Parvovirus will cause our K9 companions to run a fever. There is an old wives tale that says 'a dog with a dry warm nose has a fever'. Though this is actually not an accurate way to detect a fever in a dog. Here are a few signs of fever in a dog:

  • Depressed mood
  • Coughing
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal discharge

A dog may exhibit one or all of the symptoms if they have a fever. A dog like many other animals has a naturally higher temperature than that of a human. It is best to use a pet thermometer and not one designed for a human when taking your dogs temperature. Pet thermometers are very handy to keep around, especially if like me you live nowhere near a veterinarian office.

Nasal discharge or a runny nose can be a sign of fever. A depressed mood is usually very noticeable. Your dog will be less energetic and social. Shivering and loss of appetite are also telltale signs that your dog is running a fever.

If you notice one or more of these symptoms it is a good idea to take your dog's temperature to be safe. Any temperature at 103 F or above is a temperature for a dog. If a dog' temperature reaches 106 F it can be potentially fatal.


Parvovirus is very aggressive and often deadly. It puts a major drain on a dog. As a result they may exhibit signs lethargy such as:

  • Excessive sleeping
  • Laziness
  • Lack of energy

Pretty much anything that relates to your dog being less active than normal can be considered lethargy. If your dog does indeed have parvovirus they will likely have zero interest in their favorite tennis ball or toy.


The diarrhea associated with parvovirus is much different than run of the mill diarrhea. When a dog has parvovirus the diarrhea has a horrendous smell. Much more offensive in odor than diahrrea for any other reason. Bowel movements such as diarrhea when a dog has parvovirus will often contain blood. A very visual reminder to get your dog checked out as soon as possible.

There are of course other causes for diarrhea in your dog. Changes in diet or eating something from outside can all potentially cause some gastric upset for your K9 companion. If you notice blood in your dogs stool, and a fowl odor call your vet.


Dehydration is a common symptom of parvovirus in dogs. No doubt directly related to the diarrhea and vomiting. Dehydration is a cause for concern even if it is not related to parvovirus. Dehydration if left untreated can be potentially fatal. The warning signs of dehydration are:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Pale gums
  • Loss of elasticity
  • Collapse

If your dog becomes dehydrated you may notice his or her eyes become sunken. Much the same as with humans. Pale gums are usually a dead giveaway that your dog is dehydrated. Another symptom to watch out for is loss of elasticity to your dogs skin. Giving it a pinch between your finger and thumb and releasing should have normal skin bouncing right back. In a dehydrated dog, the skin will likely not bounce back so quickly. Regardless of the cause if your dog is showing signs of dehydration it is imperative to get to a vet! Dehydration if ignored can cause the death of your dog.

Seeking Treatment for Parvovirus

If your dog has any of the symptoms I have mentioned you should contact your local veterinary clinic right away. If parvovirus is confirmed and treatment started right away there is a 80% survival rate. The treatment of parvovirus usually consists of:

  • IV fluids for dehydration (if needed)
  • Antibiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin shots to help boost the immune system
  • Glucosamine for intestinal health
  • Colostrum for antibacterial benefit

Treatment for parvovirus can be extremely costly when receiving treatment at at vet clinic. Many of the items needed to treat parvovirus are available to the general public. You may find combating parvovirus more cost effective if you purchase some of the items outside of the vet clinic. I keep probiotics on hand for my dogs, and that would drastically cut down on the cost versus needing them during a vet visit. I also keep colostrum on hand as well, as a general immune support for my elderly dog.

It is very important to disinfect or possibly dispose of items your dog came into contact with while infected with parvovirus.
It is very important to disinfect or possibly dispose of items your dog came into contact with while infected with parvovirus.

Treating the Home After Parvovirus Detection

Parvovirus is extremely contagious, and can live for months outside of a host. It is very important that all surfaces that your dog(s) come in contact with be properly disinfected after they have been diagnosed with parvovirus. Otherwise you risk your dog contracting the virus all over again. It is best to pre wash the contaminated areas and then wipe with a disinfecting solution.


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      Aniway Suico 2 months ago

      I hope my puppy dog heal fast. She sick so much blood stool bad odor, and foamy vomit the vet told that is parvo. Hopefully she fast recovery the vet give medicine to my dog. She's so much weak started monday, tuesday now wednesday we've done in vet clinic. Hoping fast recovery.... My dog not vaccine yet.... I don't know dog need vaccine.

      Im so sad,.....