The symptoms of canine parvovirus, or CPV2, include hypothermia, fever, redness in mucous membranes, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, lack of appetite or weight loss. Parvo has two forms: intestinal and cardiac. The cardiac form is frequently seen in puppies under 6 months old when they are stressed from minor surgeries or fleas.
Parvo is a virus that infects healthy cells that have a naturally rapid reproduction rate. It starts in the lymph nodes and then spreads to the bloodstream, intestines and bone marrow. Although parvo is an aggressive virus, dogs die from dehydration, intestinal necrosis and hemorrhage, damage to bone marrow, endotoxemia, and secondary infections, such as septicemia.
Parvo is very contagious and can infect dogs, wolves and related species through ingestion or even inhalation of infected stool.
Although parvo has a 90 percent fatality rate, vaccinations are available, and treatment is possible if the virus is detected early. Infected dogs can be given blood plasma from a parvo survivor, oral antibiotics, antiemetics to stop the vomiting and intravenous fluids for dehydration.
Surviving dogs should be kept in quarantine for at least two months after they recover to prevent spreading the infection. Since parvo can survive in fecal matter for up to a year, the dog's environment should be disinfected with a weak bleach solution.