Symptoms of Parvovirus in Dogs

Updated on August 8, 2019

5 Signs Your Dog Has Parvovirus

As pet owners, we often think that if our animals have been vaccinated against an illness, they will not get it. But it's not true. Parvovirus, for example, is highly contagious, so even if you are a good pet owner and kept up with vaccinations, they can still contract parvovirus.

Knowing the symptoms of 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.

1. Vomiting

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.

2. Fever

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.

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.

3. Lethargy

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.

4. Diarrhea

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 diarrhea 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.

5. Dehydration

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.

How to Clean and Disinfect Your 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.

It is always a good idea to replace pet beds and other items after a parvovirus diagnosis. I often shop for bedding and other items for our dogs online and have found DogProductPicker to be a great place to pick up items I need to replace.

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • Can the parvovirus effect small children or adults?

    No, the parvovirus that effects dogs and cats cannot be contracted by humans. Fifth Disease is ‘parvovirus B19’ that effects humans (that maybe what you are thinking of). The two are not the same and not passed between species.

  • If a dog survives parvovirus can it get it again?

    No, a dog that has survived a confirmed case of parvovirus will not get it again. The dog becomes immune and will not be affected by it a second time.

  • How would I take my dog's temperature?

    Taking a dog's temperature is usually done rectally and easier if there are two people. I suggest finding someone to assist you. It makes it much easier on the dog and the owner.

  • What is the likelihood that your dog could get parvo if they have been immunized against parvo & now is going on 3 years old?

    Unfortunately, with most immunization both for humans and animals, there is still a chance to contract whatever disease you have gotten a vaccine for. I can’t speak to the likelihood it will happen with your dog. But if you have reasons for concern please visit your local veterinarian, or even call and discuss your concerns with them.


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    • profile image


      12 months ago

      my dog ia a 9mth old pit. he is very lethargic with slimy drool, seems to be weak ,doesn't do anything but stand in 1 spot.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Sometimes. A. Nomal stool.. sometimes a bloody stool with normal he's pooping randomly.. gassy spurts ..blood drops small . He's had his shots. But something isn't right .

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Will my dog die if she is bleeding alot and she is not eating

    • Cynthia Hoover profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Hoover 

      2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Sara im so glad your dog recovered!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I made a collar of cut lemons and put on dog with parvovirus. He is now healthy.

    • profile image

      Aniway Suico 

      2 years 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,.....


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