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The term “parvo” strikes fear into the heart of worried dog owners. Many people associate parvo with expensive hospitalization and high death rates. 

While that notion has some truth to it, the dog parvo survival rate with treatment might surprise you.

Medical treatment makes a huge difference in the survival of infected dogs.

Dogs can survive parvo without treatment but most do not. However, the parvo survival rate for dogs treated in hospital is about 90%. And those treated as outpatients have a survival rate as high as 83%.

This article will cover the symptoms of parvo, its survival percentages, and the diverse treatment options available.


  • Canine parvo is a highly contagious viral disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Dogs can survive parvo without treatment but the survival rate is low.
  • In-patient and outpatient treatment of parvo both have good survival rates.

What is canine parvovirus?

Canine Parvovirus-1 (CPV-1) is a mutated form of feline panleukopenia virus and was first identified in the 1960s. (7) It i By 1978, a more virulent strain known as CPV-2 emerged and quickly spread worldwide.

CPV is a highly contagious virus that infects dogs. It affects their gastrointestinal tract and can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting in vulnerable dogs. Puppies under 6 months of age have the highest risk of getting the disease.

This virus spreads in the feces, vomit and other body fluids of an infected dog. You won’t see the virus, but it may be present in any area visited by a sick dog. An unvaccinated dog can get the virus by breathing in or ingesting these fluids.


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This sweet puppy survived parvo!

Symptoms and diagnosis of parvo

Dog parvo can present with a range of symptoms. It’s important to note that infected dogs won’t necessarily show all these symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (which may or may not be bloody)

A common misconception is that all dogs with parvo have bloody diarrhea. While many do have this symptom, a dog without bloody stool may still very well be infected with parvo.

For an accurate diagnosis, you need to visit your veterinarian. They can perform a parvo test that detects the viral antigen in the stool.

Parvo survival rate in puppies and dogs

When faced with a diagnosis of canine parvovirus, the first question is usually, “Will my dog will survive parvo?” Dog owners want to know if it’s worthwhile to treat the dog or if the situation is hopeless.

This test requires only a small, fresh stool sample. Results are ready in about 10 minutes and have a high degree of accuracy.

Parvo statistics show how serious the virus is. They also show why quick veterinary care is important. Let’s look at the numbers to see the difference between treating it and not treating it.

dog parvo survival rate graph

Parvo survival rate with no treatment

A few puppies can survive parvo without treatment but most will not. Research indicates that mortality rates in dogs affected by parvo can skyrocket. In studies where dogs were intentionally exposed to parvovirus, a staggering 91% died without treatment. (4,6

The sad truth is that the majority of puppies infected with parvo will die without treatment.

With those numbers, you can understand why you need to act right away. Dogs with parvo symptoms need veterinary care right away to improve their chances.

Rottweiler puppy and thought bubble "My vet says unvaccinated Rotties have a high risk of getting parvo!"

Parvo hospitalized treatment survival rate

Hospitalization proves highly effective in treating dogs diagnosed with canine parvovirus. 

One study found an impressive 91% survival rate among hospitalized dogs with parvo. Out of 322 dogs admitted for treatment, 294 beat the infection. Notably, the median duration of their hospital stay was 79 hours. (1)

These numbers show how important inpatient care is. It gives the best results for dogs with this serious sickness.

Many pet owners have concerns over the cost of hospitalization. Outpatient treatment is more affordable and provides a good recovery prospects, too. Let’s talk about what’s involved.

Hospital TreatmentPurpose and Benefits
Intravenous fluidsHydration: Helps counteract dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Fluids also provide electrolytes that are vital for body functions.
Antiemetic and antacid drugsControl nausea: Prevents or reduces the intensity of vomiting. This can help the dog retain nutrients and feel more comfortable during recovery.
AntibioticsBacterial infection control: Parvo can make dogs more susceptible to bacterial infections. Antibiotics help fight off these potential secondary infections.
Assisted feedingNutrition support: Provides electrolytes and energy. Promotes healing by nourishing damaged intestinal cells.
Pain MedicationRelief from discomfort: Alleviates pain and discomfort associated with the illness. Dogs may recover faster if they’re not in pain.

Parvo outpatient treatment survival rate

Outpatient treatment means the dog doesn’t stay overnight at the vet clinic. Instead, dogs get medical care at home or during daily visits to the clinic.

They continue their recovery process at home under the guidance of a veterinarian. This model has emerged as a viable alternative. It combines medical expertise, the comfort of a familiar environment for the pet and lower costs of outpatient care. Research underscores its efficacy.

In one study, 83% of the dogs receiving outpatient treatment for parvo survived (3). Another investigation found a 75% survival rate in dogs treated as outpatients (5). 

Outpatient treatment provides good survival rates. In-patient treatment is even better.

white and brown pit bull puppy

What is outpatient treatment for parvo?

Outpatient treatment for parvo offers a middle ground between hospitalization and no treatment. Instead of extended stays at the clinic, dogs receive medical care at home or during daily visits to the clinic.

This method can work well and save money for pet owners. Let’s talk about its limitations and the benefits it offers.

Outpatient parvo treatments use the same basic principles as hospitalized care. (2)

outpatient parvo treatment graphic

Owners may give treatments at home

Owners play a pivotal role in parvo outpatient treatment. In some cases, they actively participate in their pet’s recovery by administering the treatments to their pups at home.

Outpatient parvo treatments often involve injecting hydrating fluids and other medicines under your puppy’s skin. These treatments are usually needed for 3-7 days, depending on the dog.

Of course, detailed instructions are given by the clinic staff before this undertaking. It may sound daunting, but in my experience, most dog owners learn to do the treatments with no problems.

Cost of outpatient parvo treatment

Outpatient parvo treatment costs can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It depends on how sick the dog is and how long it takes them to recover.

Regular check-ups with the veterinarian are necessary to monitor the pet’s progress. If a puppy’s condition deteriorates, hospitalization may become necessary to give them a better chance of recovery.

More from Your Vet Friend

When to vaccinate a puppy after parvo

pitbull puppy lying in grass panting

Prevention of canine parvovirus

It’s much more effective to prevent parvo than it is to treat it. Fortunately, we have very effective vaccines that form the cornerstone of prevention.

Puppies should receive their first vaccine between 6-8 weeks of age, followed by booster shots every 3-4 weeks until they’re 16-20 weeks old. Adult dogs also need regular booster shots every 1-3 years. 

Parvo virus can remain infective in the environment for many months, depending on conditions. Unvaccinated puppies should avoid public places like dog parks or pet stores. If you’ve had an infected dog in your home or yard be sure to sanitize it well.

And don’t forget that canine parvovirus can infect cats. Fortunately, standard feline panleukopenia vaccines will protect cats from contracting parvo from dogs.

Rescue Sanitizer is the same product used in many vet clinics to kill parvovirus.

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The news of a parvo diagnosis unsettling. Knowing the recovery chances and treatment options helps you make good choices.

With intensive in-patient care, the likelihood of recovery is excellent. Outpatient treatment, while less intensive, still offers an impressive recovery outlook. Providing no treatment for dogs infected with parvo poses significant risk of death.

It’s important to talk to your veterinarian about all the options for treatment. Together you can find a plan that is medically effective and financial feasibile.

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Related Posts

  1. Chalifoux, N. V., Parker, S. E., & Cosford, K. L. (2021). Prognostic indicators at presentation for canine parvoviral enteritis: 322 cases (2001‐2018). Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 31(3), 402-413.
  2. Johnson, T., DVM, DACVECC. (n.d.). Outpatient Puppies: Managing Parvo on a Budget. Southwest Veterinary Symposium 2017, San Antonio, Texas, United States of America.
  3. Perley, K., Burns, C. C., Maguire, C., Shen, V., Joffe, E., Stefanovski, D., … & Watson, B. (2020). Retrospective evaluation of outpatient canine parvovirus treatment in a shelter‐based low‐cost urban clinic. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 30(2), 202-208.
  4. Prittie, J. (2004). Canine parvoviral enteritis: a review of diagnosis, management, and prevention. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 14(3), 167-176.
  5. Sarpong, K. J., Lukowski, J. M., & Knapp, C. G. (2017). Evaluation of mortality rate and predictors of outcome in dogs receiving outpatient treatment for parvoviral enteritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 251(9), 1035-1041.
  6. Sullivan, L. A. (2016). In Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care 2016 Spring Symposium. Cabo San Lucas; Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from https://www.vin.com/members/cms/project/defaultadv1.aspx?id=7244566&pid=14212&
  7. Lappin M: Treat Canine Parvovirus Infection. World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings 2019.