How to Give a Dog a Parvo Shot

By Tami Parrington

Canine Parvovirus is a deadly disease that attacks dogs of all ages and types. It can occur in any environment, no matter how clean, and it lives for years in soil so it can be very hard to get rid of. While Parvo, the common name for the disease, can attack dogs of any age, the most common age-group is very young puppies age 6 weeks to 6 months. Puppies rely on the antibodies present in their mother's first milk, known as colostrums, to protect them. However, this immunization is very short-lived and it is important to inoculate them early to get started on long-term prevention. Anyone can give dogs Parvo shots.

Begin the Parvo vaccination schedule at 6 weeks of age (5 weeks if you consider your puppy at high risk, such as playing with other puppies not from his litter, going to public places often or experiencing a Parvo outbreak in the last five years). Provide boosters at 15 weeks of age, and then yearly from then on.

Fill syringe with the proper amount of the vaccine for your dog. Parvo is given in 1 ml doses regardless of size or age of dog.

Swab the area between your dog's shoulder blades with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Have someone hold your puppy, if possible, to prevent wriggling. If no one else is around to give you a hand, place the puppy in your lap with his head under your arm and his tail farthest from you. Pinch the loose skin between the shoulder blades between your thumb and forefinger and insert the needle of the syringe just under the skin. If you are nervous about inserting the needle for the first time, practice on a piece of fruit such as an orange to get the feel of pushing the syringe through.

Parvo vaccines (and most other vaccines) are given subq (subcutaneously), meaning directly under the skin. Once you have the syringe inserted, pull back on the plunger enough to be sure no blood flows backward into the syringe. Depress the plunger of the syringe until all of the contents are deposited. Remove syringe and dispose of properly.