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Managing Parvovirus, Coronavirus, and Other Diseases in a Litter or Kennel

Managing a litter of puppies or a kennel involves ensuring their health and well-being. One of the significant concerns for breeders and pet owners is preventing and managing diseases like parvovirus, coronavirus, and others. This article provides insights into protecting puppies, understanding where they pick up diseases, and managing these conditions effectively.

Why Do Puppies Contract Diseases Like Parvovirus or Coronavirus?

Puppies are vulnerable to diseases due to several factors that can align at the wrong moment. These include exposure to viruses, weakened immune systems, and environmental stressors. Understanding how to protect puppies from these diseases is crucial for their survival and health.

How to Protect Puppies from Parvovirus and Other Diseases

Until puppies are fully vaccinated at around 16 weeks of age, they should be kept isolated from groups of dogs, such as those found at puppy classes and dog parks. Vaccines like the Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPv+Cv and Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPvL2+Cv offer protection against multiple diseases, including parvovirus and coronavirus. While most owners do not opt for antibody titer tests due to cost and limited information, they can help assess if a dog has developed protective immunity.

Managing Parvovirus, Coronavirus, and Other Diseases in a Litter or Kennel
Managing Parvovirus, Coronavirus, and Other Diseases in a Litter or Kennel

Where Do Puppies Pick Up Diseases?

Puppies can contract diseases through various sources:

  • Visitors and Family: Diseases can be carried into the kennel on the clothing and shoes of visitors who have been around sick dogs or dogs shedding viruses.

  • Rodents: Rodents seeking food and water can introduce diseases into the kennel.

  • Wildlife: Foxes, coyotes, and raccoons can carry parvovirus, coronavirus, distemper virus, and leptospirosis bacteria. Raccoons, in particular, can contaminate the environment with their feces and urine.

Preventing Disease Transmission

To minimize disease transmission, implement the following practices:

  • Visitor Protocols: Ensure visitors remove their shoes, outerwear, and wash thoroughly with soap and water before entering the kennel. Discourage in-person visits from individuals who have been around sick dogs or visited other kennels or dog parks.

  • Disinfection: Use disinfecting baths for footwear and regularly clean and disinfect the kennel environment.

  • Wildlife Control: Identify and eliminate wildlife latrines near the kennel to reduce contamination risks.

Understanding Parvovirus and Coronavirus in Puppies

Both parvovirus and coronavirus affect a puppy’s intestinal tract, but they attack different parts of the intestinal lining:

  • Parvovirus: Destroys the base of the intestinal villi, leading to severe gastrointestinal issues and weakened immune response.

  • Coronavirus: Affects the tips of the intestinal villi, causing mild to moderate gastrointestinal upset.

When puppies contract both viruses simultaneously, the condition can become catastrophic, leading to severe dehydration, malnutrition, and bacterial infections.

Diagnosing and Managing Parvovirus

Veterinary offices can use in-office test kits to diagnose parvovirus. However, these tests can yield positive results shortly after a recent parvovirus vaccination. A complete blood count (CBC) can help assess the severity of the infection by evaluating the white blood cell count. For more accurate diagnosis and management, submitting samples to a veterinary referral diagnostic lab is recommended.

Preventing and Managing Puppy Parasites

Parasite control is essential for preventing diseases in puppies:

  • Managing the Dam: Administer fenbendazole to the dam from the last three weeks of pregnancy through the first two weeks of lactation to prevent parasites from infecting the pups.

  • Deworming Puppies: If the dam was not on the fenbendazole protocol, deworm puppies starting at two weeks of age and continue weekly until six weeks of age. After eight weeks, transition to monthly heartworm preventive treatments that include intestinal parasite control.

Limiting Stress During Rehoming

Minimize stressors during rehoming to reduce the risk of diseases:

  • Water and Diet Consistency: Provide new puppy owners with a few days' supply of the water and food the puppies are accustomed to.

  • Preventive Medication: Use Albon suspension as a preventive measure to stabilize gut bacteria during the transition period. Administer probiotics like Breeder’s Edge Nurture Flora to further support gut health.


Managing diseases like parvovirus and coronavirus in a litter or kennel requires diligent preventive measures, proper vaccination protocols, and effective parasite control. By understanding the sources of these diseases and implementing strategies to minimize exposure, breeders and pet owners can ensure healthier outcomes for their puppies. For more educational resources on canine health and reproduction, visit


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