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The Top 5 Myths of Canine Parvovirus

golden retriever

Canine Parvovirus, commonly known as Parvo, is one of the scariest diseases a dog can contract, simply because it can kill quickly. While there is no “cure” for the disease, many dogs do recuperate from it with early intervention and proper care.

In most cases, Parvo attacks the dog’s intestinal tract, but in some cases, it may also affect the heart. There are several myths or half-truths related with Parvo, and some of these may cause you as a pet owner to infect other dogs.

Myth #1: Canine Parvovirus is airborne. Parvo is not airborne. A dog must come into physical contact with the Parvovirus to contract the disease. Generally, dogs contract it by sniffing, eating or licking an infected dog’s feces or vomit. When a dog sniffs, its nose usually touches the object it sniffs. The virus enters the body through the respiratory system because the dog touched it.

Dogs can also pick up the virus by touching anything that an infected dog touched, including bedding, grass in the yard, brushes and clothing on a human that was not disinfected after handling a Parvo-infected dog.

Myth #2: Parvo cannot be cured. While it is true that there is no cure for Parvo, some dogs recover from the virus with specific veterinary care, including medications and IV fluids.

Myth #3: Yards can carry the Parvovirus for six months. Canine Parvovirus is extremely hardy. Some will tell you that the virus lasts for at least six months and some say up to two years. The only easily-available golden retrieverhousehold chemical that will kill the virus is bleach. If your dog had Parvo, check with your veterinarian for a cleaning schedule for your yard and your home, and for the best way to minimize reinfection or infecting other dogs in your home.

Myth #4: Only puppies get Parvo. Like all contagious viruses, the Parvo virus attacks the young, old and weak, but it does not preclude healthy dogs from contracting it. Generally puppies — especially those that were taken from their mother too early — get the virus because their immune system is not up to par at such a young age. Also, when a puppy is taken from its mother too early — usually earlier than eight weeks — the puppy does not get the full benefits of the mother’s antibodies. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations for Canine Parvovirus and other puppy and adult dog vaccinations.

Myth #5: My dog has been vaccinated against Canine Parvovirus so it will never contract the disease. Generally, your dog should be safe against the virus, but remember, nothing is certain except death and taxes. If you vaccinate your dogs as recommended, your dog is most likely safe. If you are not comfortable with vaccinations, yearly titers are recommended to determine the antibodies in your dog. If a titer shows low antibodies, you should vaccinate your dog.

The signs. The earliest signs of Parvo can be easily overlooked. Infected canines can suffer from abrupt and continuous vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Other signs include sudden loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, and dehydration. If you are seeing any of these symptoms, your dog should be given a complete physical examination and a laboratory test.

Conclusion: Canine Parvovirus is nothing to fool around with. If you suspect your dog has the virus, immediately contact your veterinarian for instruction and care. All is not lost if your dog contracts the virus. Often, dogs respond well to IV fluids, and medication to control vomiting and diarrhea. Your veterinarian will also instruct you how to clean the area. Remember that you must clean your entire house, your car, your clothes and your yard. If you have other dogs in the house, you will have to isolate the infected dog. You also may need to have treatment for the other dogs, especially if they have a low immune system or have not been vaccinated for the Parvovirus.

Author Bio:  Joy Islam is a recent college graduate, proud owner of an adventurous pup named Tiger, and writes about pet health care on behalf of SpayXperts.


  1. Dan Garard says

    Thanks for the great info on Parvo!
    Parvo is one of those things that is greatly misunderstood but can be relatively prevented and treated. The problem is that people aren’t aware of what can be done so they lose their precious puppies to it.

    • Naomi says

      I lost a dog to parvo, she was one year and three months old. The symptoms that clued me in were her lethargy and bloody diarrhea. It took her down so quickly. Her brother soon contracted it, but he was stronger and we were able to get him to the vet in time. He is a beautiful dog, and thriving now. This happened a year and a half ago; I’m hoping the virus that got in the soil is dead by now.

      • Ruaan says

        I am so sorry to hear. We also lost our 8 month old. It is such a terrible, terrible disease. Took her down in 4 days.

        We are heart broken she had two of her 3 vacs and still got it.

        Be blessed x

  2. Jessica says

    The information was great! I kept hearing that the parvo virus was airborne. Now I am very comforted to know that’s not true. However, can humans carry the disease from other infected dogs (like if you unknowingly pet an infected dog then perky your dog) to your dog?

    • Carol McNamara says

      Can Parvo infect humans.I’ve been looking after a pound dog for a local charity. She had contracted Parvo in the pound or shortly after, now my eyes have swollen , very red and sore.

  3. Colleen Sedote says

    Thank you for this information! My puppy stopped eating, and last night started vomiting, and then the bloody diahrrea this morning. My dad took her to the vet for me today while I was at work, and the vet said she had parvo. He gave her several antibiotic shots, and shot to stop the vomiting and diahrrea. I am making sure I am cleaning everything, and giving her pedialite to help her from getting dehydrated. Praying we can get her through this. This article is one of the best ones I have read tonight.

  4. Ken says

    Our 9 month old Chihuahua contracted Parvo around March 1st, we gave her pedolite with a turkey baster every 2 hours for 4 days. She seemed to be recovering and then would throw-up the chicken and rice that we were feeding her (boiled caned chicken and rice, watery, but not soupy) so we called a vet (we did not take her in) and were prescribed an IV solution and several pre dosed syringes $220 for the lot, we inserted the IV under the skin and gave the prescribed amount of fluid 3 times a day in her back, it would leave her looking like a camel, but she was getting better! 4 days of IV and injected anti-biotics plus a shot for diarrhea and vomiting once a day and she recovered, not jumping off the bed or even on the couch, but she survived another month latter and she is back to her old hyper self bouncing off the couch, the bed the walls! After all of this my advice is:
    Spend the money, buy the meds right away!
    My 5 pound Chihuahua survived Parvo for 8 days and made a full recovery, but not without the IV, antibiotics and anti-diarrhea meds.

    • Janine says

      I was so glad to read your post. My 3 year old chihuahua was diagnosed with parvo today. She was throwing up and didn’t seem to feel well. No diahrrra. I took her in. The dr gave me the IV and all the meds to give her for the next four days. I bleached my whole yard and house. I am so worried. But. Hopeful. How long did it take your doggy till you saw noticeable difference. A day or two? How long till ate on it’s own?

      • Carol Bryant says

        A guest writer posted this very informative article for us. It sounds like you are following the veterinarian orders and to keep following them. Keeping your sweet Chi in our hearts and warm thoughts.

  5. Kaitlin Keith says

    My boarder collie/Aussie mix puppy got patvo two days ago, he is in isolation here at my house with the iv and meds. He is slowley getting better and I am having a field day with bleach, my thing is I have 40 acres of land that he has been on. How in the world do I clean it? We have had very heavy rain for the past day or two with more in the forecast. Any ideas?

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  8. Linda Yamamoto says

    My pom got parvo from somewhere. I’v lived here for 17 years have had several dogs. She was totally vac. And she got it anyway. I was totally devastated.

  9. stacey says

    My dog got parvo. He was diagnosed today. He’s currently at the vet clinic on an iv and I pray he survives. The vet said for clothing and bedding to bleach anything that can be and wash the rest on 3 complete wash cycles in hot water. Hope this helps.

  10. Dw says

    Hi my 2 and a half yr old dog died Monday it broke my heart and not really sure why. He was fine and in good health then wouldn’t eat but was drinking loads and threw up like a yellow water on the night when I got up in the morning he was dead with a big pool of blood that had come from his anus is this parvo ?

    • Ellen Roberts says

      In March,i got 3 puppies for my Grandsons. 1 dauchsund & 2 chihauhaus. Sun July 9 the dachsund was playing & happy, I let all the puppies out in the yard for a short bit. The 2 chi’s came running back in but I had to search for Odie. He was sitting very still near my backporch, foaming at the mouth. I made sure he hadnt been bit by a snake. He never regained his strength after that last run thru the yard. He died on Monday morn. Now it is Wed night and the tiny chi has become lethargic & throwing up. I know she wont make it til morn. My Granddaughter is sitting here crying. I am washing all her linens because she had the dogs in her bed. I am now worried because I have an autisic son, he touches everything and sucks his thumb.

  11. kelly says

    This is my first time on this site and my first battle with PARVO started about 2wks ago. My 6yr old Maltese mix Jaeger “my boy” wouldn’t eat one night and the next afternoon threw up then again later that evening and again wouldn’t eat but drank ALOT of water.On the 3rd day still drinking water but refused to eat even his favorite treat I took him to the emergency vet hospital worried it was maybe a blockage. Never did I even consider the possibility it could be parvo, he had been fully vaccinated as did my other 2 adult dogs,(but I had 10 wk old puppies that had not yet been vaccinated.) The vet sent us home but kept my boy to do more tests and 3 hrs later we received a call with the horrific news. I immediately ran out to the store and bought gallons of bleach.I bleached everything, I even bleached my carpet where he had been laying. But it was too late for my boy he died that morning. Then 6 days later one of the 2 puppies started to throw up right after she ate and I immediately isolated her and followed vets instructions up and down every couple hrs for 2 days on the 3rd day she seemed to be feeling a little better she even ate a little but within an hour after eating she started to throw up blood. Before I could even get her packed into the car to the vet she was gone. To All of you out there who are now or have gone through your own battle with this horrific virus. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Parvo in my opinion is pure evil it’s DEVASTATING not only to those infected but to EVERYTHING and EVERYONE that comes in contact. I CAN NOT EMPHASISE ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPLETELY VACCINATING YOUR PETS. Although its not 100% guarantee that your pet won’t get sick. I CAN say if not for the vaccinations she got in the middle of all this, my 2nd and only surviving PUPPY who also got sick but not as severely would not be with us today.

  12. Becky says

    Someone had a 5 month old puppy with parvo. Puppy recovered. The very next week, her 8 month old pup developed parvo. This pup spent 5 days at the vet on fluids. During this time, this person went ahead and sent another dog in the house off to a dog show. I’m concerned with this. Isn’t that foolish? Her dogs share dog bowls, bones, yard space, etc, couldn’t the older dog be carrying it without her knowing it and thus exposing pups at the show?

  13. Terry Williams says

    I got two 10 week old shih Tzu last Friday and after picking the ones we fell in love with was then told they had not had any vaccinations at she felt they were too small now my little boy died of parvo on Wednesday and now my little girl is fighting for her life today. Please don’t buy a puppy with no vaccinations both myself and my husband are heart broken.

  14. Renee says

    Parvo is the most hideous thing I have come across.
    We got a puppy from a shelter on Saturday which we where informed had had two of the three shots required.
    On Tuesday we had her at the Vet because she had been sick on Monday.
    The vet didn’t think it was Parvo as she didn’t have blood.
    The next night she was in hospital.
    She is currently fighting for her life and we feel helpless.

    • Jenny says

      How is your puppy. I sure hope she made it. Did they say what it was. I have 5 dogs all are vaccinated and 3 became ill. Vomiting large amounts of clear yellow frothy stuff. Very lethargic. Wouldn’t eat there treats not even meat or drink. They are all adults. Diarrhea but no blood. We forced fluids and they all recovered within 24-48 hours. I myself volunteer at a shelter and they had puppies that were sick and I suspected parvovirus and I found out it was parvovirus. They have major outbreak now. I. Thinking my adult dogs got it from my clothes from caring for the sick puppies even though when I come home I strip down right away. I’m still trying to figure out what mine had.

  15. Brenda Davis says

    I got my shihtzu puppy on Valentine’s Day.
    He became sick 4 days later.
    I rushed him to the vet my vet did nothing said he was fine.
    I took him home he started throwing up again bloody Diarrhea I rushed him to the vets 3 more days in a row .
    The fourth day I took him again.
    They tested him for parvo is
    T was positive they kept him and he died 2 days later.
    They never even told me he was gone till a day later .
    I feel my vet is a incompetent fuck up.
    I will never trust that fuck up again.
    I’m so devastated all I do is cry.
    I’m beyond upset.
    What can I do to make my vet pay .
    I’m sorry for the f bomb but I’m so upset because I have such a imcompanent vet.
    I feel like I’m going to snap because she did nothing for but killhim.

    • Carol Bryant says

      Don’t apologize for the f bomb, I understand. That is horrible. I am so sad to read this. You would probably need to take to an lawyer who takes cases like this. Our deepest condolences. Our hearts are with you.

    • Lane B says

      I’m so sorry for your loss. My puppy passed away from parvo as well. I cry 24/7 and I can’t figure out how to stop. This may not help but I hope you know that you are not alone. Parvo is so awful. I still can’t believe my wonderful white German Shepherd puppy was taken so soon. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. Lane B says

    My father and I bought an 8 week old White German shepherd puppy and we named him Barron. This was the first puppy that we had ever bought from a breeder and the first puppy that we have purchased in over 15 years. My father had a white German shepherd puppy when he was 8 years old and loved the dog immensely, so when we decided to get a dog we decided that a White German Shepherd would be a wonderful choice. My father was checking all types of outlets, he was on Craigslist when he stumbled upon an add for these kinds of puppies. my father contacted the owner and decided to purchase one of the puppies. We met the owner and bought one of the puppies, we got a little boy and immediately after purchasing we noticed that he had this terrible skunky smelling breath. We thought that this may just be typical puppy breath. We were not familiar with puppies or purchasing from breeders whatsoever so we thought we were getting a good puppy. We did not ask about having papers, registration or anything other than him having his shots. Mainly because we didn’t know that having papers were something that people who didn’t want to breed or show the dog needed. We just wanted a friendly companion. The lady who met us said that she was just dropping them off for her mother and she did not have any proof of the shot record on hand but that the puppy got his shots prior to putting them up for sale, and that we would have to get his last round of shots. She then said she would have her mom email us and to call if we had any questions. Not thinking that this would be an issue, we said okay and bought the dog, and headed home. That night we went home and emailed and called the seller to get the proof of shot records, but she did not respond. We thought this was peculiar since she was very prompt with her responses prior to the purchase. We bought the puppy on a Saturday. We had two days with the dog before be started acting extremely strange and ill. My father took our puppy to the vet on an emergency visit, he went to the vet and they tested him and Barron was diagnosed with parvo virus. Not having a puppy for a long time we had no idea about this illness, but our vet told us that the puppy surviving was very dismal. He said that it would not be worth our money to keep him in the vet hospital because it would be a waste of money and that trying to treat him at home would be best. We said okay and then returned home with IV fluids from the vet, high calorie gel and pedialyte. Every 8 hours, as prescribed by the doctor we infused our courageous little guy. Every 30-60 we would get up and give him some of the high calorie gel and water mixed with pedialyte via syringe. We held and slept with him every minute of the day, as we did not leave him alone at all, we always made sure that one of our four family members was with him at all times so that he received the care and love that he would need. After a few days of these treatments he started to show improvements. He was eating some on his own when he was prompted, and was drinking as well. He stopped throwing up and even his poop was not as runny. We were becoming very hopeful and thought we would be able to save him. This sadly did not last because he then started to decline. it was very subtle, over about three days. We had just bought a new bag of IV fluids and were given oral meds. We were giving Barron his second infusion of the day, when he passed away in my fathers arms. It was one of the most terrible things I had ever seen in my life. We talked to the vet and they said that they were surprised that he lived so long. They attributed it to being given the infusions on schedule, feeding high calorie supplements when he couldn’t eat and even when he could eat a little, and constantly hydrating him, along with not leaving him alone and giving him lots of love. We also gave him some chicken broth via syringe and he really enjoyed that, which was a tremendous surprised because at this point we had to force him to eat or drink. Ultimately the disease just completely overwhelmed our little puppy dog, he fought so extremely hard, but it affected too many of his body systems and made him incompatible with life. We did not have him for more than 2 weeks in total. but the recovery process after losing such a wonderful animal and trying so hard to save him is extremely rough. We miss him so much, every day and this isn’t a minute that goes by where I don’t think about him. He was that wonderful of a guy. Parvo really is terrible and nasty, but please try to remain hopeful and love your dog and try to save him as I know many dogs do survive.

    If you have read this please take some key points out of this:
    1. make sure you get a dog from a reputable breeder, or source. If you are not sure what this entails (like my family did not know/nor realize) you can google or call your local animal shelter for tips. Doing this may save you a lot of heartbreak and hurt.
    2. if your dog is diagnosed with parvo virus, try to remain hopeful and treat him. Using supplemental supportive measures that i named in this post (high cal. gel, pedialyte, the vet’s meds, and love) helped prolong our dogs life, and it will probably work for yours too.
    3. Keep these measures going for as long as you have too. This virus is NASTY and the dog may have up days and down days. Even if the dog is seemingly getting better, keep giving him his treatments and medicines on schedule and consistently because the decline for our dog was insidious and sudden.

    If you’re reading this and your dog has parvo, don’t give up hope. I wish you all the luck and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. You and your puppy can get through this. Wishing you the best.


  17. Pradeep S. says

    ‘Parvo’ is extremely dangerous. I got a Golden Retriever puppy n she died in 5 days. And I was not aware of this deadly virus, and I got another German shepherd puppy exactly after 15 th day. And I just got a shock when he also died last week… :(((((( But its not that I didnt clean my house. I almost cleaned the house everyday, but it didnt work. pl be very very careful guys.

  18. Rahul Shinde says

    Even after cleaning the whole place with Bleach and Water, How does one find out if the place is rid of the parvo virus?? Is there any test that you can do on the surface to find if traces of parvo virus are still there?
    pls advice

  19. Norie says

    Keeping my hopes high for my 2mos puppy who is at the vet right now for treatment of parvo, i had him checked since his brother died suddenly yesterday finding out blood near him when It died 😭 So this morning when the other one left vomitted I rushed to the clinic where cpv test was positive. I havent even recovered from the pain when the other died and now my other is suffering. The vet said there are only 10% survival rate and even if medical attention has been given right away there is a 50/50 situation but I am very hopeful for my sweet sweet malinois. Been reading quite a lot now online for survival testimony and I pray my puppy makes it through this battle. My heart is aching badly.

  20. Ky says

    To add to myth #1 thought the virus itselslf is not airborne it is easily spread by vectors such mosquitoes/flies that land on infected faeces and then carry it eksewhere (we all know how flies love faeces)!

  21. Michael Striga says

    I went through Parvo with my Great Dane puppy Sadie, after a week of hydration through a syringe, High caloric gel and antibiotics we wont the battle. It was such a struggle but we won and now sadie is a happy and healthy puppy! I hope I never have to deal with it again!

  22. Rascal says

    . I got two puppies from a non reputable breeder, knowing full well they were in danger of not surviving, from the look and smell of where I got them from. One puppy healthy and the other three month 16 day old puppy in the vet hospital. a word here about the ruthless puppy mills who breed toy dogs for profit. They do not care about the suffering they cause. They do not care about anything but money. To traffic in animal misery is beyond any caring person’s understanding. I knew what I was getting into. A perhaps vain attempt to get two little ones out of their hands, A chance to know love, a chance to live. Others may not know or understand this. A tough challenge not to look the other way..but from the love these puppies have shown me…no matter what I’ll be there for them.

  23. lily says

    I am now broken hearted and crying for days because of my 2 pups died two days ago because of parvo. Now their little sis is suffering also. I am praying that she will recover when I saw her vomiting I rushed her to the vet and gave her treatment and IV fluid. The doctor advice me to leave her to the hospital but I refused and bring her home with dextrose, shes now on her two days fighting and saw her once poops with a blood. shes trying to eat but after she throw up. The doctor said her intestine was attack by the virus and still hoping that she will recover as she is fighting as well. Please pray for us.

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