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How Long Does It Take Parvo To Run Its Course?

Diseases take so many forms, whether it’s present in flora or fauna. They manifest with or without noticeable symptoms, whether they’re deadly, short-lived, or otherwise. For someone responsible for a canine at home, this implies asking, “how long does it take parvo to run its course?”.

Common diseases usually show no signs from initial contact up to a short length of time. For viruses, they hijack more and more cells from here until vets deal with them or they’ve wholly overrun their host’s body.

While the cells infected with the virus are dividing to form new cells and the consequential virus infectious parts, the host’s body may not show signs yet. This is why it’s crucial to know how long it takes a virus to manifest symptoms. Doing so will allow an owner to easily identify, cure, and prevent spreading to other possible hosts.

What Is Parvo?

Before looking into how long does it take Parvo to run its course, it’s better to first look at what researchers found about Parvo in the years of research. 

Parvo is a term to shorten Canine Parvovirus (CPV), identifying a highly contagious virus spread through canines, particularly dogs. It was first discovered in 1967 and has been thoroughly studied ever since.

Depending on which organ it gets access to after initial introduction to a dog’s body, Parvo can present different symptoms and signs. The two different forms by which it was observed are intestinal and cardiac.

Here’s the order of its spread in the body:

  • Starting with the introduction of the first viral entity into the body, Parvo travels towards the lymph nodes, which is the body’s first line of defense. It filters any foreign material, especially harmful entities such as bacteria and viruses.
  • The lymph nodes house the body’s lymphocytes, which are disease-fighting cells. Parvovirus takes its first shot at reproduction by using the cells from gaining access to the lymph nodes and lymphocytes.
  • After the initial reproduction, Parvovirus hitches ride on these lymphocytes to spread throughout the body. It is most prevalent in the bone marrow or intestines, which contain cells that divide fast in the body. Parvo is also observed in the heart of younger canines.
  • Once they reach these high division areas, Parvo starts to infect healthy cells to produce more of its kind and spread faster and farther, ensuring survival. Such reproduction of viruses along the cells gets in the way of them performing their tasks and is what causes the body to suffer.
  • When left untreated, Parvo overruns the system in the organ. The bone marrow can stop producing white blood cells that are the primary components of the body’s immune system. For the intestine, specifically the small intestines, Parvo overrun can mean damage to its lining, leading to protein, blood, and bacteria leakage into the bloodstream.

Puppies with parvo-infected hearts can suffer poor heart functions, inflammations, and arrhythmias.

How Long Does It Take Parvo To Run Its Course?

Symptoms will reveal themselves in an infected canine depending on which organ gets infected with Parvo first. On average, the virus takes an incubation period of 3 to 7 days until it starts showing signs corresponding to its infected organ.

For intestinal infection, the most observed case, the incubation period is about 3 to 10 days from the infection or exposure date. After such, the dog can experience one or all of the following symptoms, depending on the severity of the condition.

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea (may contain blood)
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Sepsis

While many of these symptoms can signify a different disease, it’s a must to immediately bring any dog exhibiting any of them to a vet. After all, Parvo has a very high mortality rate.

Parvo running its entire course will take the same 3 to 7 or 10 days from the first manifestation of symptoms. The most at-risk time is the first three days from observing the first symptoms, where owners saw most death and critical conditions.

While there’s still no complete cure medication for Parvo, this disease has a high recovery rate of 80% with proper and sufficient support.

Source And Treatment For Parvo

Unfortunately, Parvo hasn’t been eradicated entirely from the moment it was first observed. As such, it’s likely that the virus plaguing modern times canines is still from the original strain. 

Parvo is mostly diagnosed on puppies but also in much older canines. The occurrence of Parvo in both cases can be pointed to them not getting the vaccine that prevents and fights its spread to the body.

Vaccine for Parvo is one of the first to be given to pups, along with those for other diseases such as canine distemper


After seeing how long does it take Parvo to run its course, it’s necessary to know that viral infection requires extra care and attention. Understanding these is the way for suffering dogs to recover and avoid spreading and reinfection.

If you’re willing to adopt a pup or volunteer for the care of many, visit Doobert for more info on necessary vaccinations.