Canine Parvovirus Infection in Rottweilers

There are two types of Canine Parvovirus—the more common intestinal form and the cardiac form. The intestinal form is manifested by severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting while the cardiac form often lead to respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies. Mortality rates can reach as high as 91% in cases which do not receive adequate veterinary care.


A Rottweiler infected with a severe case of Canine Parvovirus can die within 48 to 72 hours if immediate treatment and care is not given. Compared to other breeds of dogs, Rottweilers, Pit Bull Terriers, and Doberman Pinschers appear to be more susceptible to the virus. Predisposing factors include age, breed, stress, concurrent bacterial infections, presence of parasites and canine coronavirus may increase the severity of infection. Dogs infected with Parvovirus will usually die from dehydration or secondary infection.

The intestinal form of the disease may be obtained through contact with the virus present in the feces, fomites, or in infected soil. Upon ingestion, the virus undergoes replication within the lymphoid tissues in the throat and spreading to the bloodstream. The virus shows a predilection for the rapidly dividing cells of the intestinal crypts, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. The most common bacteria associated with secondary infection include Salmonella, Clostridia, and Campylobacter species. Common complications associated with the intestinal form of the disease include the development of Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) and hyper-coagulability of blood, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), and endotoxemia. Dogs suffering from Canine Parvovirus Infection have also increased risks of intussusception—a condition characterized by the prolapsed of a part of the intestine into another part.

The Parvovirus is shed thru the feces within 3-4 days since the infection was acquired and is continually shed for more than 3 weeks. The infection has been observed to be more deadly in dogs harboring gastrointestinal worms.

The Cardiac form of the disease has been observed to commonly affect puppies within the uterus or shortly after being born. Mortality is quite high in puppies because the virus attacks the muscles of the heart and the affected puppy experiences breathing difficulties.


Severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea often pave the way for dehydration and severe electrolyte imbalance in affected dogs. Anemia and endotoxemia is also a common occurrence together with a decrease in white blood cell counts. The feces of infected dogs often have a distinctive odor. The combined action of these conditions can lead to shock and death of an infected dog.

The mode of treatment is designed to counteract the dehydration and anemia and ideally consists of IV fluids, antiemetics, and antibiotics.

Prevention is still the best way to ensure that a puppy or dog is well-protected from Canine Parvovirus. Although passive immunity from the mother can protect the puppies, this is only temporary protection thus vaccination every 3-4 weeks from six weeks of age until 15-16 weeks old should be undertaken.