Parvo Symptoms in Puppies: Infection Signs To Watch Out

The canine parvovirus infection or parvo is a well-known “puppy killer.” Identifying parvo symptoms early can help you save your puppy’s life. Puppies who contracted the disease have a mortality rate of 91%. With appropriate and early treatment, the risk reduces to 5 to 20%.

The canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious virus that affects puppies. It mainly invades the stomach and the small intestine, where it destroys the cells impairing digestion and absorption of nutrients. Because the virus damages the intestines, bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause sepsis. The virus also attacks the bone marrow and white blood cells making the infected puppy’s immune system less able to fight off the infection. In rare cases, the disease causes heart problems.

The disease can be spread via direct contact. The virus is also found in contaminated soil and objects. It can be a toy, bowl, leash, or anything an infected dog has been in contact with. Puppies can also contract the virus by sniffing or being in contact with an infected dog’s feces.

The best way to prevent your puppy from contracting the parvo is to have him vaccinated against the disease and ensure that he has a healthy immune system. It also helps when you keep your puppy restricted to your home and property until his inoculation is complete.

Unfortunately, some puppies still acquire the parvovirus infection despite being vaccinated. Knowing common parvo symptoms helps discover it early and treat successfully.

Parvovirus has an incubation period of 4 to 6 days after infection. Puppies begin to show infection signs after that. Detecting parvo symptoms as early as possible and having the disease treated immediately contributes to successful treatment.


Vomiting is one of the major parvo symptoms. However, it can be an indication of many other diseases and conditions. It is the body’s way of getting rid of things that irritate the stomach.

One vomiting is usually not a cause for concern. But vomiting multiple times a day is one of the major parvo symptoms. This happens because the canine parvovirus irritates the lining of the stomach causing your puppy’s body to attempt to get rid of it.ALSO READ:Canine Dermatitis

Bloody Diarrhea

Many diseases, including parasite infestation, viral and bacterial diseases, poisoning, and ingestion of sharp objects, can cause bloody stool in dogs.

The stools of parvo-infected puppies are often soft to watery. The color can be yellow, brown, or black with a tinge of blood. Sometimes the stool of parvo dogs can be white to pinkish and mucus-like. In severe cases, infected dogs poop turn bloody all-red diarrhea.

The stool of puppies with parvo may have a distinct metallic and bloody smell. Many discover it smelling like rotten eggs or dead rodents.

If you happen to find blood in your puppy’s stool, call the vet immediately and check for other parvo symptoms.

Lack of Appetite

Puppies with parvo have little to no appetite. The parvovirus infection damages their digestive lining causing them tummy pain. As a result, puppies lose their appetite and desist from eating.

Some parvo-infected puppies display interest in the food but are hesitant to eat because of the pain.

Fever or Low Body Temperature

The normal body temperature for dogs is between 101 and 102.5 F. If your puppy’s temperature is higher than that, then there is a high chance that his body is battling an infection.

However, dogs with parvo can either have a fever or low body temperature (hypothermia). Whether they will have a fever or hypothermia depends on their body’s immune response.


Lethargy is one of the earliest parvo symptoms. Infected puppies tend to lose interest in playing and moving as if they are already exhausted. They become lethargic because their bodies use their energy in an attempt to fight off the virus.

Puppies also lose their appetite, vomit, and flushes out too much fluid through their feces (diarrhea). This results in lack of energy, and therefore contributes to their weakness.

Other Parvo Symptoms

  • Severe weight loss
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dehydration

Canine parvovirus can kill puppies in just three days. For this reason, it is important to take your puppy to the vet if your puppy displays any of these parvo symptoms. Early detection results in early treatment. And the earlier a puppy gets treated for this highly-fatal disease, the better the prognosis.

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