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Can A Dog Get Parvo Twice? What Every Dog Owner Needs To Know

can dogs get parvo twice

When it comes to the health of our four-legged friends, questions often abound, and one such question is: “Can a dog get parvo twice?” Canine Parvovirus, or Parvo, as it’s commonly known, is a highly infectious disease that affects dogs, particularly puppies. It’s a question that pertains to the heart of many pet owners who have witnessed their dogs suffer through this illness once and are anxious to prevent it happening again.

An important part of tackling this issue is understanding the longevity of the Parvo virus in the environment. Parvo is a hardy virus that can survive for long periods in the environment, especially in areas where an infected dog has defecated. It’s of utmost importance to clean these areas thoroughly to stop the spread of the virus. For this purpose, products like the Pet Stain and Odor Eliminator from PawSafe come highly recommended. You can read more on how to get poop and urine odors out of the house.

The scope of this article is to offer pet parents vital information and peace of mind. Our exploration of whether a dog can get Parvo twice is grounded in credible sources such as studies from the Wiley Online Library and Veterinary Clinics: Small Animals Practice ensuring that the information provided is accurate, timely, and reliable. Stay with us as we navigate this crucial topic together, providing clarity and guidance for your pet’s health and wellbeing.

Understanding Canine Parvovirus And Why Dogs Can Get It Again

Canine Parvovirus, or Parvo as it’s commonly known, is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease that primarily affects dogs. Think of it like a nasty bug that causes severe gastrointestinal problems, including parvo poop, vomiting and dry heaving, refusing to eat, and it is most common in puppies, which is why it’s vital to know about healthy puppy digestion.

Just like the flu in humans or kennel cough, Parvo can change or “mutate” into different versions, or strains. Imagine if you had a jigsaw puzzle of a beach scene, but then the pieces started to change and suddenly it became a mountain scene. That’s kind of what mutation is like. The puzzle is still a puzzle (the virus is still a virus), but it’s now different enough that our bodies might not recognize it.

So, even if a dog has had Parvo once and built up immunity to that specific “beach scene” puzzle, it might not be fully protected against the new “mountain scene” puzzle – a different strain of the virus. This is similar to how humans can get different strains of the flu, or dogs can get different strains of Kennel Cough. This is why it’s crucial to keep up with vaccinations, as they are regularly updated to protect against the most common strains.

The different strains of Parvovirus, including CPV-2, CPV-2a, CPV-2b, and CPV-2c, each represent unique “puzzle scenes,” using the analogy from earlier.

The original strain, CPV-2, was first identified in the late 1970s. However, within a few years, it mutated into CPV-2a and CPV-2b, which are more infectious and cause more severe disease. More recently, another mutation led to CPV-2c.

These strains are like different editions of the same book – the main story (disease) is the same, but there are some changes in the details. It’s these details that can trick a dog’s immune system, which might have been expecting the ‘original edition’ (like CPV-2), and may not fully recognize or fight off the ‘new editions’ (like CPV-2a, CPV-2b, and CPV-2c).

This is why veterinarians recommend regular vaccinations, as they are formulated to protect against these different strains, helping to keep your dog safe from the shifting puzzle of Parvovirus.

Reasons That A Dog May Keep Getting Parvovirus

There are several reasons why a dog might be more susceptible to contracting Parvovirus more than once:

1. Weak Immune System

Just like humans, dogs with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of catching infections, including Parvovirus.

2. Immature Immune System in Puppies

Puppies, especially those under four months old, have not yet fully developed their immune systems, making them more prone to infections.

3. Incomplete Vaccination

Dogs that have not completed their full course of Parvo vaccinations are at a higher risk.

4. Exposure to Unvaccinated Dogs

Dogs that interact with others that are not vaccinated are more likely to contract the virus.

5. Exposure to Different Strains

As Parvovirus can mutate into different strains, a dog that has contracted one strain could potentially contract a different one in the future.

6. Poor Hygiene

Dogs living in unclean conditions, or those that come into contact with infected feces, have a higher risk of contracting Parvo.

7. Stress

High stress levels can compromise a dog’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections.

Each of these factors can increase a dog’s risk of contracting Parvovirus more than once, highlighting the importance of proper care, vaccinations, and cleanliness in protecting your dog’s health.

How Many Times Can A Dog Keep Getting Parvo? 

While rare, there’s technically no set limit to how many times a dog can contract Parvo, especially if it’s exposed to different strains of the virus. However, once a dog recovers from a specific strain, it typically develops immunity to that particular strain.

What Breeds Of Dog Are More Susceptible To Parvo? 

Certain breeds like Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers appear to be at a higher risk for Parvo. However, any unvaccinated puppy or young dog, regardless of breed, can contract the virus.

Why and how can vaccinated dogs get Parvovirus? 

Studies show that vaccinated dogs can still contract Parvovirus if they come in contact with a different strain of the virus than what they were vaccinated against. Additionally, if a dog’s immune system is compromised, or if the vaccine hasn’t had time to take full effect, the dog may still be susceptible. Vaccines work by preparing the immune system to fight off an infection, but they are not 100% effective in every dog, especially if not boosted regularly. This is why maintaining your dog’s vaccination schedule is crucial.

When puppies are born, their immune system is not fully developed, so they rely on antibodies passed on from their mother’s milk to help protect them against infections. These maternal antibodies are helpful but start to diminish over time, leaving a gap in protection. This is where vaccinations step in.

Vaccinations for Parvo are typically given in a series of doses to puppies, starting from about 6 to 8 weeks of age and continuing every three to four weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. Each vaccination helps the puppy’s immune system learn how to fend off Parvovirus.

The timing and spacing of these vaccinations are crucial. If given too early, the maternal antibodies can interfere with the vaccine, neutralizing it before the puppy’s immune system can respond. If given too late, the puppy may be left unprotected as the maternal antibodies wane.

Even though vaccinated puppies can still get Parvo, vaccinations greatly reduce the risk. If a vaccinated puppy does contract Parvo, the disease is often less severe, and the puppy is more likely to recover. The goal of vaccination isn’t just to prevent disease, but also to reduce its severity and impact. By vaccinating puppies against Parvo, we’re giving them the best chance of a healthy, happy life.

Why Do Some Dogs Get Parvo And Some Don’t?

Several factors influence whether a dog contracts Parvovirus:

1. Vaccination Status

Vaccinated dogs have a much lower risk of contracting Parvo than unvaccinated ones. Vaccinations stimulate the immune system to recognize and combat the virus effectively.

2. Immune Health

Dogs with a strong immune system are more likely to fend off the virus compared to those with weaker or compromised immune systems.

3. Age

Puppies, especially those between six weeks and six months old, are more vulnerable because their immune systems are not fully developed.

4. Breed

Some breeds like Rottweilers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Doberman Pinschers, have a higher susceptibility to Parvo.

5. Exposure Level

Dogs that come into contact with an infected dog’s feces or an environment contaminated with the virus are at a higher risk.

6. Strain of Virus

A dog that has recovered from one strain of Parvo might still contract a different strain.

It’s a combination of these factors that determine why some dogs contract Parvo and others don’t. Regular vaccinations, maintaining good hygiene, and limiting a puppy’s exposure to public places until they’re fully vaccinated are critical for prevention.

Can You Prevent Parvo In Dogs?

There are several ways to prevent Parvovirus in dogs:

  1. Vaccination

    This is the most effective method. Puppies should be vaccinated starting from 6-8 weeks of age, with boosters every three to four weeks until they’re 16 weeks old, and then annually or as recommended by your vet.

  2. Limit Exposure

    Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, avoid places where many dogs congregate, such as dog parks, kennels, and pet stores.

  3. Cleanliness

    Regularly clean and disinfect your dog’s living environment. Parvovirus is highly resistant, but certain products, like bleach solutions, can kill it.

  4. Healthy Lifestyle

    Maintain a balanced diet and regular exercise for your dog. A healthy dog is more capable of fighting off diseases.

  5. Regular Vet Check-ups

    Regular vet visits can help catch potential health issues early and ensure that your dog is up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations.

  6. Control Environment

    Until a puppy has received its full set of vaccinations, it’s crucial to keep them away from public places where they may be exposed to the virus, such as dog parks, pet stores, or any area where many dogs may have been. The same applies to dogs that are already sick, as their immune systems may be compromised, making them more susceptible to infections like Parvo.

Remember, while these methods significantly reduce the risk of Parvo, no prevention method is 100% foolproof. Therefore, it’s crucial to be vigilant about your dog’s health and take immediate action if Parvo is suspected.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a dog get Parvo twice in one year?

While it’s uncommon, a dog can get Parvo twice in one year, especially if exposed to different strains or if their immune system is compromised.

Can a dog get Parvo even after being vaccinated? 

Yes, a dog can get Parvo after vaccination, particularly if exposed to a strain not covered by the vaccine or if their immune system didn’t respond adequately to the vaccine.

Can adult dogs get Parvo?

Yes, adult dogs can get Parvo, especially if they’re unvaccinated or their immune system is weakened. However, the disease is more common in puppies.

Can a dog get Parvo at any age? 

Yes, a dog can contract Parvo at any age, although it’s most common in puppies between six weeks and six months old.

How do dogs get Parvo? 

Dogs get Parvo primarily through direct contact with an infected dog’s feces or through indirect contact with a contaminated environment or objects. The virus is highly resilient and can survive in the environment for a long time.

Final Thoughts

In wrapping up this exploration into the question, “Can a dog get Parvo twice?”, it’s clear that while it is uncommon, it is technically possible, particularly in dogs with weakened immune systems or when exposed to different strains of the virus. This underscores the importance of regular vaccinations, maintaining a clean environment, and managing your dog’s interactions until their immunizations are complete.

Remember, even the most effective preventive measures aren’t 100% foolproof. Always remain vigilant about your dog’s health and don’t hesitate to consult your vet if you notice signs of illness. Ultimately, keeping our furry friends safe and healthy is a proactive process, and understanding the risks and preventive measures for diseases like Parvo is a significant step towards achieving that goal.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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