Home Treatment for Parvo in Puppies

Parvovirus is one of the most deadly of canine diseases with no known cure, only treatment for parvo. The virus affects the intestines of older dogs and the heart muscles of puppies. Medications are used only to alleviate the secondary elements of the disease.

Parvovirus Is Highly Contagious

Parvovirus is highly contagious, transmitted via an infected dog’s feces. Being highly concentrated in the stool, the virus can infected any other dog that sniffs an area whereby an infected dog has eliminated. This fecal-oral transmission is the most common form of transmission. This transmission can occur for at least 3 weeks after becoming infected even though the infected dog does not display any outward signs of the virus. This “silent” incubation period allows the virus to spread rapidly.

No breed, size, gender or age is safe from infection. Though rare, survivors can carry the virus for a full year after infection.

The virus is capable of surviving outside of the body on surfaces for as long as 6 months, infecting any dog coming into contact with the contaminated surfaces. Only bleach and sunlight can destroy this virus.

Symptoms of Parvo Can Vary

Symptoms include any one of several combined of the following:

  • Decreased or lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea, usually with a very foul odor
  • Rapid dehydration due to the vomiting and diarrhea
  • Possible shock, often leading to death
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Irregular heartbeat (puppy symptom only)
  • Difficulties breathing (puppy symptom only)
  • Unwillingness to nurse (puppy symptom only)
  • Crying (puppy symptom only)

Death usually occurs due to the rapid dehydration caused by the virus. Therefore, it is important to replenish the fluids to prevent further decline.

Treatment for Parvovirus

Since there is no cure for parvovirus, it is important to alleviate or diminish the secondary elements of the disease:

  • Infections using antibiotics
  • Severe dehydration through fluid infusions (IVs)
  • Blood loss due to bloody diarrhea using anti-diarrhea medications
  • Preventing heart attacks in puppies by diminishing the dehydration caused by the virus

Though hospitalization does not necessarily guarantee recovery, it does improve the odds. Encouraging drinking plenty of water will help in keeping a puppy or dog properly hydrated by offering a mix of water and Gatorade or unflavored Pedialyte to replace the electrolytes being lost. Using an eyedropper may help. However, if a puppy is unable to keep fluids down, it is necessary to visit the veterinarian immediatel

y.Check fluid levels by pulling back on the skin between the shoulder blades or back. If the skin does not snap back into place, then the puppy is not properly hydrated and will need an IV. Another method is to press on the puppy's gums and check that the rosy pink color returns to the gums in seconds. Pink, rosy gums indicate health while white, grayish gums or dark red gums indicate illness.

A puppy may be able to keep watered down, canned moist food. It may have to be administered by eyedropper since most puppies infected with parvovirus develop nausea and refuse to eat or drink. This further diminishes the energy level and worsens the puppy’s condition.

How to Prevent Parvo Infections

Vaccinating a dog is the best defense against parvovirus, even though the dog will remain highly susceptible to the disease for 2 to 4 weeks after the last injection in the series. Unfortunately, whereas the natural antibodies in the mother’s milk provide immunity from certain diseases, these antibodies impede the effectiveness of the vaccine in puppies. It is necessary to vaccine a puppy every 3 to 4 weeks until he is at lease 16 to 18 weeks old.