Can Older Dogs Get Parvo? YES!!

Puppy owners who are new to the world of dogs may be surprised to learn that parvo canine parvovirus is a deadly disease that can strike fear into the hearts of new puppy owners.

The virus is typically spread through contact with saliva, mucus, or blood from an infected dog. It is most commonly seen in puppies between 6 and 20 weeks old, but it can also affect older dogs.

Parvo is not endemic to any one region of the world, but it has been reported in many countries. There is no specific treatment for parvo infection, but supportive care including fluids and medication to help fight dehydration and fever should be provided to affected dogs.

What happens during the parvo infection?

Puppies are susceptible to canine parvovirus (CPV) infection from birth. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in the blood, concentrating on the bone marrow. Puppies with CPV infection may experience fever, weakness, and anorexia.

Severe infections can lead to respiratory illness, kidney failure, and even death. Older dogs are also susceptible to CPV infection and can develop severe disease if not treated promptly.

 If your dog shows any of the following signs of illness, contact your veterinarian immediately: fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit; bloody diarrhea or vomit; difficulty breathing; lethargy; seizures; or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Risk of Parvovirus to adult Dogs

There is a high risk of canine parvovirus (CPV) affecting adult dogs. Puppies are more prone to contracting the virus because they have not yet developed immunity.

CPV can cause severe health problems in both puppies and adults, including death.

Because of the high risk to adult dogs, it is important to be proactive in preventing the spread of the virus by practicing strict hygiene measures, such as

  • Hand-washing
  • Disinfecting surfaces and cages regularly
  • Keeping your dog isolated from other animals if possible

How Adult Dogs Get Parvovirus?

Adult dogs can get parvovirus very easily if they are not vaccinated. Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause severe illness in dogs. It is most commonly spread through contact with saliva, mucus, or blood from an infected dog.

Unvaccinated dogs are particularly at risk for getting parvovirus, as the virus can survive on surfaces for up to two weeks after an animal has been sick. Symptoms of canine parvovirus include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and loss of appetite. If left untreated, the virus can lead to death in some cases.

Differences between Adult and Puppy Parvovirus

To be precise, both the symptoms and treatment of parvovirus are the same for older dogs and puppies but how will they affect your dog is completely based on the dog’s immunity.

However, there are some key differences between the symptoms and treatment of parvovirus in puppies and adult dogs. For example, puppies are more likely to experience serious gastrointestinal complications from the virus, while adult dogs are less likely to suffer any serious health consequences from the virus.

Can vaccinated Adult Dogs get Parvovirus?

Dogs that are vaccinated against Parvo are still susceptible to the virus, although they may experience a lower severity of the disease. It cannot be said that any vaccine can provide 100% complete protection and this is especially true if the virus strains change.

Some dogs may not process the vaccine properly at the time of vaccination and therefore their immune response may not develop in a way that provides protection.

This can happen due to the dog’s health at the time or by receiving more antibodies than usual during breastfeeding from their mother. If the amount is too high, it can actually cancel the effects of the vaccine.

Can we give Parvo virus vaccine to older dogs?

Giving an older dog the parvovirus vaccine is a good way to protect them from the disease. Adult dogs are more likely to get sick from parvovirus, and taking care of them by giving them a vaccine can help protect them from getting sick.

Older dogs are also more likely to be less able to fight off the virus, so it is important to give them the vaccine as soon as possible after they are diagnosed with the virus.

Older dogs and canine parvovirus

Although parvovirus is not as common in older dogs, they are less likely to catch the disease. Adult dogs infected with Parvo can tolerate the disease well but are not fatal without treatment. It is important to make sure your dog is properly vaccinated to completely prevent parvovirus.

 If you do not know if your dog needs a vaccine, talk to your veterinarian and discuss your options, including a titer test.

How can my vet diagnose parvo?

By far, the most common and most convenient method to test for the presence of CPV is the fecal ELISA test. This test generally finished by the vet within 15 minutes. Although the ELISA test is very accurate, it occasionally produces false positive or false negative results, so further testing may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.


Unfortunately, Parvo has no treatment. The mainstay of treatment is supportive care. Ideally, this would include hospitalization and intensive nursing care. Treatment consists of the following things:

  • Intravenous fluids to rehydrate
  • Antibiotics to prevent sepsis
  • Anti-emetics or anti-nausea medications to combat nausea and vomiting
  • Antacids that help to prevent further damage to the stomach lining and esophagus which can be due to nausea and vomiting
  • Deworming because the presence of intestinal parasites increases the damage caused by parvo and hinders recovery
  • Other customized treatments may be recommended considering the dog’s condition and the veterinarian’s professional opinion.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, antiviral drugs, plasma transfusions and more can be included as part of the treatment. In addition the lab work should be repeated periodically to monitor the overall condition of the dog.

Home treatment for Parvo is generally not recommended because it is not as effective. However, if cost is the main factor and the owner is dedicated, home care can be tried instead of euthanasia. It is very important to know about your dog care and follow medical recommendations. Survival with home care is low, but not impossible.


In conclusion, while parvo can be deadly to dogs of all ages, it is particularly dangerous to older dogs that may have weakened immune systems. If you think your dog may have contracted the virus, take them to the vet immediately for a diagnosis and treatment. If you’ve got an older dog at home, make sure they’re up to date on their vaccinations and keep them indoors as much as possible.

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