4 steps to prevent parvo in puppies

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Happy, healthy puppies who suddenly turn deathly ill in a matter of days, with survival  rates as low as 9% ! Every dog owner and veterinarian’s nightmare: parvovirus. 

What is Parvovirus? 

 So, lets take a look at the 4 steps to prevent parvo in puppies!

Canine parvovirus, or commonly “parvo,” is just what the name indicates: a virus.

In  short, parvovirus is a single strand of DNA, which infects cells so that it may replicate,  and then kills the cells in the process (1,2).  

The strain of parvovirus in puppies that is commonly observed is CPV-2.

This strain of  the virus infects cells that multiply rapidly, especially those in the lining of the intestines (2).

When the virus damages these intestinal cells, the gastrointestinal tract is no longer  fully functional, causing larger problems for the dog. 

Video: causes & symptoms of Parvo in dogs

How do puppies get Parvo? 

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus, so it can spread rapidly from dog to dog (3).  Parvovirus is shed from an infected dog (whether showing symptoms or not) through the  feces. Subsequently, any dog who comes into contact with the fecal matter may become  infected by the virus (3,4). 

Unfortunately, the virus is resistant to many things, including heat, cold, dry  temperatures, and even many disinfectants (3,4). It can be transported on lots of  different surfaces, meaning that even if you unknowingly step in dog poop that is  contaminated, you may bring the virus home with you. 

Parvovirus more commonly infects young puppies, 6 weeks to 6 months of age (1,2).  Puppies do not have fully developed immune systems at this age, because immunity  given by their mothers is short-lived, and they have not yet developed their own full  immune system or been vaccinated.

As the immunity from their mothers declines prior to vaccination, puppies become susceptible to the virus (2,3). Additionally, adult dogs  who haven’t been fully vaccinated or vaccinated at all may be at risk of contracting the  virus (3)

Symptoms of Parvo in puppies

Parvovirus symptoms in puppies include: (3) 

  • Severe diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy or Depression 
  • Weakness 
  • Fever 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Weight loss

If your puppy exhibits any signs of parvovirus, it is important to contact your veterinarian  right away to get a proper diagnosis.

You need to act fast, as the first 48-72 hours are  pivotal for potential treatment (3,4).

Even if they do not have parvo, these symptoms  could indicate another problem that needs to be treated as quickly as possible. 

Natural Probiotics for Puppies - Dog Food Specialist

How long do puppies live if they have Parvo?

If your puppy is diagnosed with parvo, it is likely not going to be an easy road ahead.  However, the good news is that you got your puppy to the vet and diagnosed, which is a  huge step towards having your pup make a full recovery. 

Can a puppy survive getting Parvo?

With proper treatment, up to 90% of the dogs who contract parvo will survive,  compared to far worse survival rates in those left untreated (4)

It is likely that your puppy will have to be hospitalized for proper treatment.

Because  parvo is a virus, there isn’t a specific medication that can treat it alone, like some  antibiotics can treat bacterial infections (4).

Instead, the main focus of treatment is  supportive care to the dog. 

IV fluids will be given to dogs with parvo to help combat severe dehydration that is  associated with diarrhea and vomiting (2,4).

The vet will also determine if other  medications are needed, which may include:

electrolytes, antimicrobials to prevent  secondary infections, analgesics (pain relievers), anti-nausea drugs, nutritional support,  and more (2)

cute puppy laying on grass
up to 90% of the dogs who contract parvo will survive

Nutritional support is becoming more important in parvo treatment for puppies. 

Originally, it was common to treat parvo patients with nil per os, or NPO for short, which  means feed was withheld from the patient (5). However, more recently, research has  shown that enteral nutrition (nutrition to the digestive tract via a feeding tube) is an  important factor in healing and recovery (5).

While the exact methodology and feeding  program will vary by veterinarian and patient, this nutritional intervention may help  shorten hospital stays, and improve healing of the enterocytes, the absorptive cells in the  small intestine (5).

Parvovirus in dogs treatment

Other research has shown therapeutic effects of probiotic supplements for puppies with  parvo (6).

Probiotics promote optimal gut health conditions by promoting healthy  bacteria, removing toxins from the gut, and aiding in proper digestion. 

One study found that puppies treated with probiotics had shortened recovery times  compared to those not receiving probiotics (6).

Additionally, probiotics are beneficial to  restore the health of the gastrointestinal tract when receiving treatments such as pain  medications and antibiotics which may be given in the treatment of parvo, and therefore  are a good addition into a recovery program. 

probotics for dogs health
Probiotics promote optimal gut health conditions by promoting healthy  bacteria, removing toxins from the gut

Stages of Parvo

Stage 1: Exposure

Exposure to an uninfected dog through diseased feces, where the virus can live for up to a year in the dirt.

This virus can also be passed by your dog sniffing an infected dog’s butt or ingesting its saliva. 

Stage 2: Incubation

The incubation period of the Parvovirus from first contact is three to five days.

It is impossible to know early on whether or not  your dog has been exposed to this very hardy virus.

If you learn that your pet may have come in contact with an infected dog, it may be a good idea to contact your veterinarian.

Stage 3: Symptoms Appear

After five to eight days after first exposure symptoms are likely to begin to appear. 

Stage 4: Veterinarian Diagnosis

Moving quickly to get your dog to the vet if you suspect Parvo will be your best action to ensure your dog recovers.

A veterinary professional will be able to administer an in-clinic test that can quickly confirm Parvo if present.

Undiagnosed dogs with the Canine Parvovirus have a very slim chance for survival.

Stage 5: Treatment

A dog can recover at home if the disease is caught early enough, and drugs are prescribed by your veterinarian.

Most often treatment begins with rehydration through the use of IV fluids to counter the loss of liquids through vomiting and diarrhea.

This is followed by the administration of antibiotics, anti inflammatories, antispasmodics and vitamins.

dog being examined by vet for suspected parvovirus

Stage 6: Recovery

Puppies recovering from Parvo will take anywhere between 14 and 20 days, and this is true for older dogs as well.

While in treatment and recovery it will be important to keep your pet isolated from other dogs.

It will also be a good idea to disinfect anything your dog uses as well as the room your dog is staying in.

Can a vaccinated dog get Parvo?

It is essential to vaccinate your dog against parvo in order to prevent infection.

Vaccinated dogs may not develop immunity in rare instances, so it is good practice to be aware of the signs of parvo, regardless of vaccination status.

Dog being vaccinated at vets

Early signs of Parvo

The most common symptoms of parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, stomach pain, bloating, fever, vomiting, and severe, often bloody diarrhea. As a result of persistent vomiting and diarrhea, the body dehydrates rapidly, and septic shock can result from damage to the intestines and immune system.

Is it ok to give dogs probiotics every day?

The answer is YES, you should give your dog probiotics every day.

It’s important, however, that you give them the most effective ones as they will make a big difference in keeping your dog’s gut health and immune system happy and healthy with your dog being less prone to illnesses.

A recent scientific study reports that 70% to 80% of all illness begins in the gastrointestinal tract! that’s why this supplement is essential for your dog’s immune system and overall health.

Organic Probiotic For Dogs with Allergies - Dog Food Specialist

Can I give my dog human probiotics

There is no harm in taking human probiotics; they are not harmful to them.

 While they provide some benefits, they are not as effective as supplements that are tailored to specific species.

There is a possibility that the dog-specific bacteria are combined with similar strains of bacteria found in human supplements.

Probiotics for dogs are available in a variety of forms, including soft chews, oral gels, pastes and powders. They can be given as a treat or mixed in food.

owner giving a sitting dog a probiotic supplement

Dog Probiotics side effect

Although they can present some side effects, probiotic supplements usually aren’t dangerous.

When starting probiotics, some dogs may experience digestive discomfort, diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, or nausea. There may be a temporary worsening of a digestive symptom before it improves. An adverse reaction may be detected early by changes in appetite.

Probiotics for puppies with diarrhea

Full Bucket's Puppy Probiotic

FullBucket Puppy Probiotic Paste is a highly concentrated yeast-based formula that supports early gut and immune health in puppies.

With probiotic, prebiotic, dried egg product, digestive enzymes & L-glutamine. 


    • The first and only gut health supplement of its kind, the paste supports the developing GI and immune system in puppies
    • Naturally supports your puppy’s health
    • Supports early immune system health
    • Maintains proper gut flora


  • 1.25 Billion CFU’s of Saccharmoyces cerevisae boulardii, a yeast strain of probiotic that is safe to use during antibioitc therapy
  • Probiotics – to support a healthy immune system
  • L-Glutamine – Helps maintain a healthy intestinal tract
  • Prebiotics – Support a healthy microflora


  • All-Natural
  • Microencapsulated for maximum protection and efficacy
  • Non GMO
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • 100% overdose free

Best probiotic paste for dogs

Top-quality Probiotics for Puppies - Dog Food Specialist


How can I avoid Parvovirus in puppies?

There are some steps that you can take to prevent your puppy (or dog) from contracting  parvovirus.

Keep puppy areas clean and free of any fecal matter.

  • If you take your puppy or dog outside to play or to go on a walk, prevent them from  coming into contact with another dog’s fecal matter.
  • If puppies have not been fully  vaccinated, it is not recommended to take them to places such as dog parks, daycare  or boarding facilities, kennels, or puppy training classes, because you do not know if  other dogs have been vaccinated or may carry the virus.
  • Once dogs are of the proper age, be sure to get their parvovirus vaccine series, and  keep them up to date on their proper boosters (3,4).
  • As parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, supporting a healthy gut may help  reduce the risk of contracting the virus, or limit the damage that occurs.
  • FullBucket’s Puppy Probiotic is formulated specifically for puppies, and promotes gut health, proper  digestion, and immune function. Additionally, FullBucket’s Puppy Probiotic is specially  formulated by veterinarians to include parvo antibodies.

This can help protect puppies  from contracting the virus if they become exposed by boosting their immune system  specifically against parvovirus. 

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If you are looking for the best probiotic dog food, just click this link for our expert review on the 8 Best Dog Food Brands available today.

Best probiotic for puppies - take home message

Parvovirus is a virus that attacks the canine digestive system, especially puppies who  have not yet developed full immunity. If your puppy begins showing symptoms like  vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and fever, it is important to get them to a veterinarian  immediately for treatment. 

In order to prevent your puppy from contracting parvo, make sure to keep them in a  clean environment, and prevent them from being exposed to fecal matter or other dogs  who may carry parvo.

When you can, get your puppy vaccinated for parvo and stay on  top of their booster shots so they are protected for life.

In the meantime, you can  provide your puppy with FullBucket’s Puppy Probiotic to support gut health and  immunity, and provide them with antibodies to protect against parvovirus. 

Did you know that there is an all-natural method to relieve inflammation, pain, and discomfort in dogs that works better than pharmaceuticals? Check out our page on Canine Cush for Dogs.

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