Parvo is a viral disease that attacks the intestinal tract and immune system. It has been known and identifiable since 1978 and can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with vomit or diarrhea from an infected dog. The Parvovirus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, dehydration, high fever and sudden death.
The Parvovirus is hard to kill and is shed in large numbers by infected dogs. One ounce of feces can carry millions of particles of the virus. This means a fly can land in an infected area then land in your yard and infect that space. Some kennel owners ask that their visitors bleach the bottom of their shoes, wash their hands in bleach water and put gowns on before allowing contact with the puppies. These are excellent precautions to take, and reduce the risk, but they are not a guarantee that the puppies will be protected from the Parvovirus. Many kennel owners who have taken these precautions still end up occasionally contracting Parvo in their kennel. We have seen this situation many times.
Parvo is extremely contagious. It is passed in the feces or vomit of an infected dog. It can be brought into your yard on your tires, on your feet or clothing after handling an infected animal. It can be passed from yard to yard by birds carrying the virus or by people going “kennel-hopping” carrying the virus on clothing or shoes. Find out how to protect your pet from Parvo by reading our complete Parvo Self Help Guide.
The usual incubation time for Parvo is three to fifteen days. When the virus is introduced into the body, it finds its way into the lymph glands of the animal and incubates. Eventually the virus will leave the glands and work its way into the intestinal tract where it will begin the process of eating away the intestinal lining, bringing on the Parvo symptoms. It will also go into the marrow of the bones, causing the puppy’s immune system to be compromised. This can cause infection, which makes an antibiotic extremely necessary. Again, this process usually takes anywhere from 3 to 15 days, so the number of days between exposure and your puppy showing symptoms is quite variable.
See What is Canine Parvo by Eldon Griffiths