Guidebook: Canine Parvovirus

Chapter 2: Who can be infected?

While puppies are most likely to suffer severe disease and death, any unvaccinated dog, of any age, can become infected with CPV. Some breeds have been reported to be more susceptible to this infection (e.g. “black and tan” breeds). However, these breed tendencies likely evolve and change over time as a result of natural selection against susceptible lineages, and no one breed should be assumed to be more or less susceptible than another (nor is there any indication for a differing vaccination schedule in a particular breed). The apparent frequency of CPV infection in some breeds or mixes in shelters (e.g., anecdotally, pit bulls) more likely reflects a lower frequency of vaccination and greater exposure rather than a true genetic risk.

Some strains of CPV currently circulating in the U.S. can infect domestic cats as well as dogs. Infection with canine parvovirus can causes severe disease and death in cats, just as feline panleukopenia does. Alternately, it may cause in-apparent infection and establishment of a carrier state. Such cats would be a threat to in-contact dogs. Housing dogs and cats separately in shelters is extremely important for many reasons and especially never co-house CPV infected dogs with cats, particularly kittens or unvaccinated adults. Modified live vaccination for feline panleukopenia provides cross protection against CPV infection in cats.