Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Canine Parvovirus?

See What is Canine Parvovirus? for details.

I think my dog has Parvo. What should I do?

Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately. Parvo is a serious disease that kills 90% of untreated dogs. The information on this website may help you understand how Parvo works and how we treat it, but it is not a substitute for veterinary care.

Will my dog die if he/she gets Parvo?

This is a very serious disease. Some puppies infected with parvovirus will die despite prompt and adequate treatment. While no extremely accurate statistics are available, a good guess is probably that 80-90% of puppies treated for parvovirus will live. Without treatment, probably 90% or more of the infected puppies would die.

Due to the high death rate, parvovirus gets a lot of free publicity. Many people just assume that any case of diarrhea in a dog is from parvovirus. This is not true. There are a lot of other diseases and disorders that lead to diarrhea. If you have a puppy, don't take any chances. Have your puppy examined by your vet if diarrhea is a factor in any disease. It is better to be safe than to be sorry. If your dog becomes infected with parvovirus and makes it through the first three to four days, he will usually make a rapid recovery, and be back on his feet within a week. It is vital; however, that he receives supportive therapy immediately. It must be stressed that this is not a bad case of doggy flu; without medical treatment, most puppies die.

How can I prevent my dog from getting Parvo?

Vaccinate your dog! The parvo vaccine is widely available, usually as a combination shot with the distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), and parainfluenza vaccines. Puppies should be vaccinated about every 3 weeks beginning at 6 weeks of age until about 20 weeks of age. Because the mother's antibodies can sometimes interfere with the vaccine, puppies need to receive it several times to ensure they are protected. Do not allow you dog to go anywhere she might contact other dogs until she is fully vaccinated, especially not to dog parks, pet stores, kennels, or groomers.

How do I prevent the spread of Parvo?

The surest way to avoid Parvo infection in your dog is to adhere to the recommended vaccination schedule which begins when puppies are 6-8 weeks of age. Puppies should not be allowed to socialize with other dogs or frequent areas where other dogs have been until 2 weeks after they have had their last vaccination. Immunization for Parvo is usually included in your dog's distemper vaccine. This shot gives protection against several potentially fatal canine diseases all at the same time.

If your pet becomes infected, please keep in mind that dogs with Parvo shed the virus in their feces and are extremely contagious to other dogs. Follow these recommendations to help prevent the spread of this disease.

  • No more unvaccinated dogs (they must be at least 16-20 weeks old to be fully vaccinated) in the home. While disinfecting will reduce the concentration of the virus in your home, there is no way to know if the virus has been complete erradicated. Bringing another unvaccinated dog into the home will most likely cause them to become sick.
  • Keep the infected dog isolated from all other dogs for at least one month after full recovery.
  • Clean up all the dog's stools in your yard.
  • Use a 1:30 ratio of chlorine bleach and water to clean food and water bowls (4 oz. in 1 gallon of water). Wash any bedding the dog has been in contact with in this same bleach solution and hot water. You should also try to disinfect any other areas that the dog has been, like linoleum, concrete kennels, crates, etc. You will need to wash all clothes which came into contact with the dog with 1 cup of bleach. All shoes worn also need to be washed with bleach. If you have any other dogs that are two years old or younger, or who have never been vaccinated for Parvo, please bring them in for a booster as soon as possible.

What if I've got Parvo in my home?

If you have had Parvo in your home, use the bleach/water solution to kill it. Soak the yard with it -- better to kill the grass than your next dog! Be careful using it on carpets and fabrics, though. Parvo can live up to many years in your home or yard. Before you bring home another dog, be sure it has a strong immunity to Parvo. You can have a veterinarian draw blood and run a titer to find out how well your prospective dog will fare in a Parvo-infected environment. Adult dogs generally have a higher resistance than puppies do, but they need to be kept current on their vaccines. If in doubt, have your vet do the titer.

Are some breeds more susceptible than others?

For some reason, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, black Labrador Retrievers and other black and tan breeds are especially prone to Parvo, and seem to succumb to Parvo faster and with less chance of recovery than any other breed. If you have one of these breeds, it's even more important to make certain your puppy or dog gets immunized properly. But these breeds are not alone -- the Parvovirus can affect all breeds.

What is the APA! Parvo ICU?

See What is the APA! Parvo ICU? for details.

I am part of a rescue organization and I want to start a Parvo program. Can you help?

While the primary purpose of this website is as a reference and training tool for our own volunteers, it is also a great resource for other programs. Feel free to use any of our protocols. A good place to start is the Medical Trainee Curriculum for background followed by everything in the Procedures, Protocols, and Checklists section. Austin Pets Alive! also hosts the American Pets Alive! conference, where there is a presentation about starting your own Parvo ICU. They have a PDF about the things you need to start a parvo ward. If you have specific questions about starting or running a parvo ward, contact the Parvo ICU Team Manager at

Please keep in mind that this website is not a substitute for a veterinarian and that you will need to work with a veterinarian to set up your Parvo ICU and determine the treatments for each individual dog.

Can I duplicate this documentation for my organization?

Yes. With conditions. Please see the Duplicating This Wiki page for details before attempting to copy.

How can I donate to the APA! Parvo ICU?

Thank you! You can donate money online or in person at one of the APA! adoptions sites.

You can also donate supplies. We are in constant need of:

  • Gerber Baby Food- Chicken or Turkey (plain meat food with no veggies)
  • Gerber Chicken Stix
  • Vienna Sausages
  • Deli meat (turkey or ham)
  • Chicken breast or turkey breast (cooked, plain, either fresh or frozen)
  • Wet dog food (any brand or flavor)
  • Hill's a/d critical care dog food
  • Dry puppy food (any brand or flavor)
  • Toilet paper
  • Garbage bags
  • Bleach
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Alcohol 70%
  • Iodine
  • Famotadine (Pepcid) 10 mg or 20 mg tablets
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec) tablets
  • Cotton Balls

Additional needs can be found on our Amazon Wish List.

Donations can be labeled "For Parvo" and dropped off in front of Building C or shipped to:

Austin Pets Alive! Parvo ICU
1156 West Cesar Chavez,
Austin, TX 78703.

Perishable donations like deli meat can be brought into the APA! Medical Clinic, in Building C.

Thank you!

Where can I get more information on Parvo?

There is a lot of bad information floating around the internet about Parvo, some of it incomplete, some outdated, some designed to sell you useless "remedies," and some flat-out wrong. We have found the following resources to be useful:

  • Veterinary Partner's Parvovirus Information Center has a great deal of quality information about Parvo and its articles cover several different topics including the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and history of Parvo. The articles are written for pet owners and explain Parvo in good depth without requiring prior medical knowledge.
  • The Merck Veterinary Manual was written as an aid to veterinarians. Its discussion of Parvo is detailed and technical and includes information on the disease process, specific treatment recommendations, and outcomes.