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Parvo Symptoms

Symptoms of parvovirus in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of parvo in dogs and puppies in detail.

Parvovirus is a deadly viral disease and a dog infected with the virus has only a 50-50 survival chance. It is therefore important to learn more about the signs and symptoms of this disease so that if parvo is suspected you can waste no time in getting your dog to the vet for treatment.

Dog Parvo Symptoms

Cocker Spaniel
Signs and symptoms of parvo in dogs can be unspecific and can range from mild to serious depending on such factors as the dog's age and health condition. For example, many adult dogs may have been exposed to the parvo virus but they may not show any symptoms at all.

There are two forms of canine parvovirus (intestinal and cardiac). Intestinal parvo is the more common form of dog parvo; therefore, this page looks at the signs and symptoms of this form of parvo.

After an incubation period that lasts for an average of 4 to 5 days, the following acute parvo symptoms will show:

  • Vomiting: In intestinal parvo, the parvovirus attacks the cells in the dog's intestinal wall, causing gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting. Usually the infected puppy vomits uncontrollably and will continue to retch. Even as the stomach contents have been thrown up, the puppy will continue to vomit yellow bile.
  • Diarrhea: Another GI tract problem and classic parvo symptom is profuse diarrhea, with very foul-smelling stool. Initially, the stool may contain yellowish or greenish mucus. Later on, the stool will become runny and dark-brown - an indication that the stool contains old, not fresh, blood.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration develops rapidly when the dog has recurrent diarrhea and vomiting. Dehydration can quickly cause shock and result in death. In fact, many dogs with parvo die of dehydration.
  • Depression: A dog with parvo may appear depressed. A normally active and playful dog may turn into a weak, lethargic, and depressed dog who does not want to play. This depressive state is caused by low blood sugar and dehydration as a result of diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Fever: Some dogs with parvo do not develop a fever; whereas others may have a high fever of up to 106°F (41.1°C).
  • Abdominal Pain: In addition to diarrhea, some dogs with parvo may have severe abdominal pain (indicated by a tucked-up belly).
  • Appetite Loss: A dog sick with parvo will lose his appetite and show no interest in food.


Suspect parvovirus if your puppy has a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea. Take him to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of Parvo in Dogs

Not all puppies and dogs with the above symptoms have parvovirus. That's why a proper diagnosis is essential so that appropriate treatment can be given.

The most accurate and efficient way to diagnose parvovirus is to identify the parvo virus or virus antigens in a dog's stools. This can be done by a blood serum test (ELISA).
Top of Dog Parvo Symptoms

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