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.
Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).