Parvovirus is a highly contagious, and possibly life-threatening, infection. Dogs who show signs of the disease -- lethargy, appetite loss, vomiting and diarrhea -- should receive prompt veterinarian attention, since early intervention is important. Although there is a lab test for parvovirus, it is not conclusive and vet staff may do additional testing to conclude a diagnosis.
The ELISA Test
Veterinarians commonly perform the ELISA (Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay) test on a dog's stool to check for the presence of the virus. This test can be performed quickly -- in approximately 15 minutes -- at a vet hospital or clinic.
Drawbacks of the ELISA Test
The ELISA test may produce a false positive if a puppy has recently been vaccinated for parvo -- tests taken within five to 12 days after vaccination may be unreliable. Additionally, the test will not register a positive when a dog is infected but has stopped excreting the virus into his stool.
A drop in white blood cell count and the presence of certain antibodies can also indicate a parvo infection. A vet will take this data into account in addition to the dog's symptoms and the results of an ELISA test.