How to Clean Up Your Yard After Parvo

By Nathalie Alonso

Canine parvovirus is an extremely contagious pathogen that causes an oft-fatal disease in dogs. The canine parvovirus is difficult to destroy and can survive outdoors for months, making it a challenge to disinfect a yard. The goal is not to eliminate the virus from the environment, but to reduce the concentration of particles to a safe level.

What is Parvo?

The canine parvovirus attacks multiple organs, particularly the intestines and the bone marrow, causing severe diarrhea and vomiting, as well as secondary infections due to a decrease in white blood cells. A dog who has or has recently suffered from parvo sheds millions of viral particles in his feces.

The canine parvovirus can survive on most surfaces, including food dishes and toys. The virus said to be "ubiquitous," which means it is present in every environment to some degree. It is therefore essential that your dog be vaccinated against the canine parvovirus. Puppies should not be taken to public places until their parvovirus vaccine series is complete.

Clean With Bleach

Parvovirus is resistant to virtually all household disinfecting products. An exception is bleach, which you can use to treat color-safe, nonorganic areas of your yard.

Dilute the Bleach

Create a solution that consists of 1 part bleach to 32 parts water.

Apply the Solution

Allow the bleach solution to sit on the surfaces you are treating for at least 10 minutes.

Alternatives to bleach include Trifectant, a cleaning product that contains potassium peroxymonosulfate, and accelerated hydrogen peroxide, both of which are used by animal shelters.

Treating Your Lawn

While the experts at Cornell University's Baker Institute for Animal Health advise against bleaching your lawn, you can dilute the virus in grassy areas with frequent watering.

Allowing enough time for the virus to die is often the best option, however. According to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, as long as the space is not frozen -- the parvovirus does well in the cold -- the virus may survive for five months in outdoor areas that receive direct sunlight. It can survive for up to seven months in the shade. Indoors, the parvovirus has a life span of about a month.

To avoid spreading the disease, if a dog who has had parvo has spent time in your yard, advise other dog owners to keep their pets out of the space until enough time has passed.

Agricultural lime, a substance made of limestone that is sometimes used to inhibit the growth of pathogens in sewage, may help control parvovirus by increasing the pH of your lawn.

The canine parvovirus can survive on clothing and shoes, making it easy to bring the virus indoors if you enter the home after walking on a contaminated lawn or after contact with a dog suffering from parvo. If you have spent time in an infected yard or in the proximity of an infected dog, considering washing your shoes and clothes with bleach or disposing of them to avoid further contamination.