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Dogs under the age of two years old are the most at risk of  becoming infected with Parvo.

We feel that anyone working with dogs of any breed or age should be aware of this virus and the preventive measures to reduce risks.

Cleaning Protocols:

Generally, there are only two products which kill this virus with a ten-minute contact time. Trifectant and bleach (1/2 cup/gallon dilution) will successfully kill Parvo.  Other products that claim to kill parvo are not effective according to most sources we know. There may be some other newer commercial products out there not mentioned in these articles.


Once parvo has hit the house, you need to clean fastidiously with a 20% bleach solution on all hard surfaces and Trifectant on carpets, clothing, etc.

For lawns, quarantine all new dogs (so if they “break” with it you will not have contaminated all areas with sick dogs) until at least two weeks have passed. Keep at-risk or contaminated puppies on hard, easy to clean surfaces like driveways or concrete, not yards, and the less porous, the better.

IF you have had a parvo dog on your property do NOT bring an unprotected animal onto the premises.   “Unprotected” means less than two years and/or missing any shots.

Parvo is a very transmittable virus that can get airborne, on clothes, hair, etc.  Quarantine of a puppy during shot period is key.  

You should never let their feet touch the ground in any “public” area, e.g., your unfenced front yard, anywhere another animal or person could have been and contaminated until one to three weeks after the third shot and the longer the better.

Typically, when Parvo shows, it pops up seven to ten days’ post exposure. First signs tend to be only lethargy and decreased appetite—they will suddenly become less interested or totally uninterested in food or water. It seems the littlest ones first show symptoms, then diarrhea; not at first bloody just really loose, gelatinous, mucus filled and sometimes golden in color.  They may show symptoms for a few days before the diarrhea (lethargy and food disinterest), sometimes throwing up watery or foamy phlegm. Then full-blown watery stools with that fermented blood smell and at that stage, it is harder to treat.

A parvo puppy, post treatment, could potentially be harboring the virus (and shedding) for up to 4 weeks, so isolation is necessary. Do not allow unvaccinated animals in areas where puppy has been, nor should you allow puppy out into the general population due to risk of contamination to other animals.  

After four weeks make sure to bathe puppy thoroughly and do complete bleach clean on all affected areas. If taking puppy to vet before the isolation period is complete, inform vet you have a recovering parvo pup and use carrier, plus universal precaution (Fresh clothing, bleached carrier, only take animal into office when called, etc.) so as not to risk other animals in office.  

Continue to limit yard access during this isolation time, utilizing a kennel or exercise pen to keep puppy and feces on easily cleaned hard surface. Suggested bleach clean mixture is 20% bleach to water, let sit wet for ten minutes, then rinse.

Pick up all feces and such BEFORE bleach cleaning.  Keep an eye out for secondary parasitic infections like Giardia and coccidia, stools can mimic parvo, and harbored parasites can overgrow due to stress of parvo on system.

Parvo can live in soil for up to two years. A 3-month quarantine is a minimum during hot dry weather.

House contamination is one to three months, even after a thorough cleaning by hard surface cleaner with Parvocide or Trifectant. The advantage to Trifectant is that it will not damage fabrics, but requires careful handling.

Other Pro-active actions:

Wash hands (lots of hand washing).

Keeping puppies separated from other dogs.

Clean all poop spots, etc. with Clorox. Dispose of the poop in a plastic bag.

Do not touch the other dogs without washing your hands and changing shirts.

Parvovirus is a deadly viral disease and a dog infected with the virus has only a 50-50 survival chance.

If your puppy is showing signs and symptoms that he may have been infected with the parvo virus, do not delay - get veterinary care immediately. Dogs with parvo require intensive veterinary care and management. Except for the mildest cases, hospitalization is usually necessary. ¹

Clinical Signs

What are the symptoms we need to be aware of? Well, identifying Parvo can be a problem. Why?

There may not be any signs in a large number of the dogs.  Not only that, but many of these dogs could be shedding the virus in their feces!

When signs are present, they may be variable, but generally take the form of severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Vomiting is usually the first sign to develop after infection. Diarrhea usually begins about 24 hours later and may or may not contain blood.  Some dogs exhibit anorexia, depression, and fever.  Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection can mimic other diseases causing vomiting and diarrhea; consequently, the diagnosis of CPV is sometimes a challenge for the veterinarian.

To confirm Parvo (Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection), requires the demonstration of the virus in the feces or the detection of anti-CPV antibodies in the blood serum. Usually detection of the virus in the feces is easily done and takes just a few minutes performed in the veterinarian’s office. Occasionally a dog will have parvovirus, but test negative for virus in the stool; fortunately, this is not a common occurrence.

A presumptive diagnosis may be based on the presence of a reduced white blood cell count (leukopenia). If further confirmation is needed, feces or blood can be submitted to a veterinary laboratory for the other tests, because Parvo infection can mimic other diseases causing vomiting and diarrhea, making it difficult to diagnose.  

Related articles:

What is Parvo? Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a relatively new disease that first struck the canine population in 1978. 

PARVO, Home Treatment for Parvo

 PARVO, Keeping the virus from spreading