Parvo is a highly contagious virus that can be deadly for dogs. The parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration that can lead to death if not treated quickly. While there is a vaccine for parvo, the virus itself is hardy and can live for months or even years in the environment if conditions are right. This makes disinfecting areas where an infected dog has been extremely important to prevent further spread of the virus. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to properly disinfect your home and yard after a parvo outbreak.
How is parvo spread?
Parvo is spread through contact with infected feces and vomit. The virus particles can be picked up on shoes and clothing and spread to new areas. In fact, parvo is extremely difficult to kill and can persist in the environment for long periods if not properly disinfected.
Some key facts about parvo transmission:
- Parvo can be transmitted by any physical object that has come in contact with infected stool or vomit.
- Adult dogs may be able to shed the parvo virus without showing symptoms, allowing them to easily spread it.
- Parvo can live for months outside in cool, shaded environments.
- Even trace amounts of feces or vomit can contain enough viral particles to infect a new dog.
- Kennels, dog parks, groomers, and veterinary clinics are common places for parvo outbreaks to occur since infected dogs may have been there.
Knowing exactly how parvo spreads underscores the importance of thorough disinfection after exposure.
How to disinfect your house after parvo
Disinfecting your home after a parvo infection requires a multipronged approach:
Remove all items that cannot be disinfected
First, remove all items like carpets, dog beds, pillows, fabric toys, etc that cannot be fully disinfected. The parvo virus can persist in fabric fibers and continue spreading the infection. These items should be thrown out or incinerated if possible. Hard toys that can withstand disinfectants can be thoroughly scrubbed.
Wash and disinfect all floors and surfaces
Floors and hard surfaces like countertops, shelves, and tables should be thoroughly washed and disinfected. Use a high-pressure hose or power washer outside first and let the area dry completely. Then:
- Sweep up all dirt and organic matter like hair and dust.
- Wash the entire floor including baseboards with soap and hot water. Let dry.
- Saturate the area with a virucidal disinfectant and let sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.
- Steam clean any carpeting with virucidal cleaners.
- Wipe down all walls and vertical surfaces with disinfectant up to dog nose height.
Pay special attention to corners, cracks, and any crevices where organic matter may collect.
Use products effective against parvo
Not all disinfectants can kill parvo. Look for products specifically labeled for use against parvovirus. Bleach solutions must be at a 1:30 dilution with water and soak for 10 minutes to effectively kill parvo. Other effective disinfectants include potassium peroxymonosulfate, accelerated hydrogen peroxide, and quaternary ammonium compounds.
Treat all soft furnishings
Upholstered furniture, pillows, dog beds, and other fabric items are nearly impossible to fully disinfect. These should be steam cleaned at very high heat and/or sprayed thoroughly with virucidal products. Optimally, these items should be replaced if possible.
Change air filters
Air filters should be replaced after disinfection since they may harbor viral particles. Any ductwork that may have been exposed to the virus should be professionally cleaned as well.
Disinfect multiple times
A single disinfection is not enough. The parvo virus is extremely hardy, so you need to repeat the disinfection process 2-3 times at 5-7 day intervals. This ensures any remaining viral particles are eliminated.
How to disinfect your yard after parvo
Your yard becomes exposed to parvo anytime an infected dog goes to the bathroom outside. Here are the steps for cleaning up your yard:
Remove all dog feces
Use gloves and bags to carefully pick up and dispose of any dog waste. Double bag it and place in the trash – do not compost.
Spray yard with disinfectant
Spray your entire yard with a virucidal disinfectant solution. Soak any grass, soil, pavement, play structures, etc. Avoid runoff into gardens and landscaping.
Remove top layer of soil
If your dog went to the bathroom in specific areas of the yard, remove the top 2-3 inches of soil. Replace with new sod or dirt.
Let areas dry in sunlight
Sunlight naturally helps deactivate the parvo virus. Allow all disinfected outdoor areas to dry thoroughly in sunlight.
Replace gravel/sand in play areas
Any gravel, sand, or cushioning in play areas for dogs should be replaced since it is impossible to fully disinfect.
How long does parvo live in yard?
Outdoors, parvo can survive for months or years if conditions are right. Cool, shaded areas help the virus persist. Direct sunlight and warmer conditions start to deactivate the virus, but it can still live for weeks to months outside. To be safe, you should keep dogs off previously infected areas for at least 2-3 months if possible.
Here is an overview of parvo’s environmental persistence:
|Surface||How long parvo can survive|
|Soil||5 months or longer if shaded|
|Grass||3-4 weeks in sunlight|
|Concrete/Asphalt||1-2 months in sunlight|
|Gravel/Sand||Over 1 year, disinfect or replace|
As you can see, parvo tenacity means disinfection must be very thorough both indoors and out.
Products to use when disinfecting after parvo
Not all disinfectants and cleaners can kill parvo. Here are some recommended products:
Liquid household bleach can inactivate parvo when diluted 1:30 with water and allowed to soak for 10 minutes. But bleach can damage many surfaces with repeated use.
Accelerated hydrogen peroxide
Sold under brand names like Rescue and Accel, these products break down into water and oxygen after disinfecting. They are effective against parvo and safe for repeated use.
Also called Virkon S, this is a powerful oxidizing disinfectant used in veterinary clinics. It is very effective against parvo but must be purchased from vet supply retailers.
Quaternary ammonium compounds
Commonly abbreviated as “quats”, these include benzalkonium chloride and alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. Quats work well against parvo.
Phenol based disinfectants are very effective virucides. Lysol contains o-phenylphenol, a type of phenol able to inactivate parvo.
Be sure any product is specifically labeled as effective against parvovirus before use. Follow all label instructions closely.
How to disinfect dog bowls, toys, and bedding after parvo
In addition to your home and yard, you also need to disinfect items your dog contacts like food bowls, toys, and bedding.
Disinfect food and water bowls by:
- Hand washing thoroughly with soap first
- Soaking bowls in a 1:30 bleach solution for 10 minutes
- Letting air dry completely before reusing
Replace plastic bowls that may have become porous. Use stainless steel bowls that can withstand repeated bleach soaking going forward.
- Wash fabric toys in detergent and very hot water, consider replacing them
- Soak hard plastic and rubber toys in disinfectant or bleach solution
- Allow chew toys and ropes to dry thoroughly before reusing
- Replace any toys that cannot be adequately disinfected
Avoid plush fabric toys that cannot be fully disinfected. Stick to surfaces like rubber or nylon that bleach can penetrate.
Fabric dog beds are nearly impossible to disinfect. Optimally, replace any beds exposed to parvo. To salvage, you can try:
- Spraying bed thoroughly with virucidal disinfectants daily
- Steam cleaning at very high heat >180°F if possible
- Washing removable covers with bleach and hot water
- Letting beds dry fully in direct sunlight
But again, replacement is the only way to be 100% sure beds are parvo-free. Use easy-clean options like washable nylon beds going forward.
Is parvo always fatal in dogs?
Parvo mortality rates:
- With aggressive vet treatment, 80-90% of dogs survive
- Without treatment, parvo kills 80-90% of infected dogs
- Puppies under 1 year old have the highest mortality around 90%
- Adult dogs have better survival rates, as low as 5% mortality
- Vaccination helps prevent infection in the first place
So while parvo can be deadly, the majority of dogs will survive with prompt vet care. Vaccination starting at 6-8 weeks of age is critical to protect puppies. Even older dogs need booster shots as parvo immunity can fade over time.
When can I get new dog after parvo?
It takes time for a parvo-infected home to be fully disinfected to prevent transmission to a new dog. Here are some general guidelines:
- Wait at least 4-6 months after recovery/disinfection
- Test new dog’s parvo antibody levels first
- Have vaccines on schedule before introducing new dog
- Only bring in adults, avoid puppies under 1 year old
- Keep new dog restricted to fully disinfected areas at first
Take it very slowly when introducing a new dog to a prior parvo home. Wait as long as possible, over 6 months optimally, to be safe. Have them avoid previously infected areas like the yard at first. Be vigilant for any signs of infection which requires immediate isolation and disinfection. Only fully vaccinated adult dogs with adequate antibody levels should be considered for previously parvo-contaminated homes.
Parvo is a challenging virus to eliminate from the home and yard once a dog is infected. But comprehensive disinfection and limiting re-exposure can prevent its spread. Focus on:
- Using parvo-effective disinfectants like bleach, accelerated hydrogen peroxide, potassium peroxymonosulfate, or quaternary ammonium compounds
- Removing or replacing any items that cannot be disinfected like carpets and dog beds
- Disinfecting multiple times at 5-7 day intervals
- Letting outdoor areas dry thoroughly in sunlight
- Keeping new dogs away from infected areas for at least 6 months
With diligent cleaning and caution introducing new dogs, you can protect your home from further parvo outbreaks. But prevention through vaccination is still the best medicine, so keep your dog’s shots up to date.