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Home > Dogs > Can Cats Give Dogs Parvo? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can Cats Give Dogs Parvo? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Parvovirus is a highly contagious and serious illness that affects dogs and cats. Both dogs and cats of all ages can catch parvovirus, and the complications resulting from the disease can be severe. However, the most at-risk group for catching this virus is puppies and kittens that are too young to be vaccinated against parvo.

Canine parvovirus can be found everywhere. Contact with infected dogs or even being touched by someone who has recently handled an infected dog can pass the infection from one dog to another. Thankfully, cats cannot give parvovirus to dogs. Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV)—the feline equivalent of Canine parvovirus—is a species-specific illness. So, if your cat gets FPV, your dog is not at risk of contracting it.

However, mutated strains of canine parvovirus have been shown to affect cats. So, if your dog catches parvovirus, you’ll want to keep it far away from your cat for your cat’s safety.

divider-catWhat Is Parvo?

Parvo is a viral infection caused by a parvovirus pathogen. The virus typically infects the stomach and small intestine but prefers the small intestine. After the virus has been contracted, the virus will destroy the cells of the small intestine and disrupt the gut microbiome.

The disruption to the body’s gastro-intestinal tract will reduce your dog’s ability to absorb nutrients from their food. The infection typically results in vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss.

While many people believe that parvo is a disease exclusive to puppies, adult  and elderly dogs can also contract and be killed by it. The elderly and immunocompromised dogs are also at risk of severe complications from parvovirus. So, it’s best to be vigilantly aware of the signs and symptoms of parvo, regardless of your dog’s age.

Dog parents with multiple dogs will be especially vigilant about parvo infections, as the disease is highly contagious. One infected dog could quickly spread the virus to other dogs in the household.

Parvo also weakens the immune system, especially when contracted by puppies. In puppies, parvovirus can affect the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues responsible for creating white blood cells. Comorbid and secondary infections are common in dogs with parvovirus. So, ensure you keep your dog safely quarantined until it is no longer contagious.

Parvovirus is a disease that both cats and dogs can be vaccinated against.  Keeping their vaccines up to date is the best way to protect them.

veterinarian is holding cute cat Burmese cat
Image By: ARVD72, Shutterstock

Symptoms of Parvovirus

  • Diarrhea, typically with blood
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Initially red gums and eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hypothermia

How to Treat Parvovirus

There is no specific drug designed to treat parvovirus. Therefore, medical management is necessary to diagnose the infection and further intervention will focus on alleviating the symptoms of the disease and bolstering the dog’s immune system to fight off the virus.

Early treatment of parvovirus is critical. When a dog is treated early, and the treatment plan is followed, survival rates are as high as 95%. However, delaying treatment reduces the chance of your dog surviving to as low as just 68%. Therefore, getting in touch with your vet if you think your dog has parvo is imperative.

Work with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for alleviating your pet’s symptoms and nursing them back to health. Unfortunately, parvo is a difficult virus to kill in the environment. You’ll need to wash and disinfect all your puppy’s belongings thoroughly. If possible, replace whatever you can.

Additionally, you’ll need to be mindful of your contact with other dogs, including your own. Parvo is highly contagious. While cats can’t spread the disease to dogs, it can be spread from one infected dog to another via the hands and clothes of humans. Dogs are also capable of spreading the infection to cats. So, if you have a cat, you’ll want to keep them separate until your dog is no longer contagious.

sick dog
Image By: Igor Normann, Shutterstock


Parvo is something that all pet owners should take seriously. Whether caught by a cat or a dog, the illness can quickly get out of hand, spread to your other pets, or even claim lives. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of parvo and keeping vaccinations up to date will help your pets stay safe and healthy!

Featured Image Credit: FamVeld, Shutterstock

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