Get access

Canine parvoviral enteritis: a review of diagnosis, management, and prevention


  • Jennifer Prittie DVM, DACVIM (Internal Medicine), DACVECC

    1. From the Department of Critical Care, the Bobst Hospital of the Animal Medical Center, New York, NY.
    Search for more papers by this author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to:
Dr. Jennifer Prittie, The Animal Medical Center, Bobst Hospital, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10021. Fax: (212) 752-2992.


Objective: To review and summarize current information regarding epidemiology, risk factors, and pathophysiology associated with canine parvoviral infection, and to outline diagnostic and treatment modalities for this disease. Preventative and vaccination strategies will also be discussed, as serologic documentation of immunocompetence and adoption of safe and effective vaccination protocols are crucial in limiting infection and spread of canine parvoviral enteritis.

Etiology: Parvoviruses (Parvoviridae) are small, nonenveloped, single-stranded DNA viruses that replicate in rapidly dividing cells. Canine parvovirus 2 (CPV-2) remains a significant worldwide canine pathogen and the most common cause of viral enteritis in this species.

Diagnosis: Classic presentation of CPV infection includes acute-onset enteritis, fever, and leukopenia. Definitive diagnostic tests include detection of CPV in the feces of affected dogs, serology, and necropsy with histopathology.

Therapy: Standard therapeutic practices for both mildly and severely affected puppies will be discussed. The ability of this virus to incite not only local gastrointestinal injury, but also a significant systemic inflammatory response has recently been reviewed in the literature, and novel innovative experimental and clinical therapeutic strategies, such as antagonism of proinflammatory cytokines and immunostimulation, are introduced in this article.

Prognosis: CPV remains a significant worldwide canine pathogen. In experimentally affected dogs, mortality without treatment has been reported as high as 91%. However, with prompt recognition of dogs infected with CPV-2, and aggressive in-hospital supportive therapy of severely affected puppies, survival rates may approach 80–95%.