How to Save a Puppy With Parvovirus
What Is Parvovirus?
Parvovirus is a common but very deadly viral infection that usually attacks unprotected puppies. About half of all affected puppies will die no matter what you do, especially if it is the virulent strain. But if you do nothing, they will certainly die.
I have nursed quite a few dogs through parvo successfully. It was no fun, that is for sure. You have to stay up with them 24 hours a day, for about a week or sometimes longer. They will require your constant attention for most of this time, so you will not be doing much sleeping.
Parvo is horrible, but with the right care and a great deal of dedication, your puppy has a good chance of surviving this devastating disease. This will also depend on which strain of parvo your puppy has and whether or not it is the virulent type that hardly ever leaves any survivors or one of the weaker strains.
How It Spreads and Prevention
Parvo is spread by contact with the feces, blood, or vomit of an infected dog. Your pet can also be infected by parvovirus present in the soil or environment.
You can prevent infection by having your dog vaccinated. Always vaccinate your dog for this and other dangerous diseases.
- Severe and sudden watery and smelly diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme weakness
- Loss of muscle control
- Puppy stops drinking water or eating on its own
Start Treating Right Away
You have to start this treatment right away just as soon as you notice something wrong, usually the sudden watery, explosive diarrhea or vomiting. You will smell the characteristic parvo "rotten blood" odor.
Your dog will not drink water nor eat, and very soon the pup is stretched out and down on the ground and can't get back up. They become limp, weak and unable to hold themselves up.
What to Do
Call the Vet
You will want to call your vet and get the puppy in to be seen as soon as possible. This is a veterinary emergency.
The vet will probably give the puppy a shot and some antibiotics for the infection. They might also give some Reglan to calm the intestinal spasms for you to give at home.
Be sure to follow the vet's instructions exactly.
Doggy Hospital vs. Home
The vet may want you to leave your pet in the doggy hospital. This will cost you a fortune. Of course it's your choice, and if you feel that is what you should do, then by all means go ahead.
However, most vets will also tell you that you can do just as well for your puppy at home. The only thing the vet can do that you can't is hook them up to an IV.
You can hydrate the dog just as well at home with Pedialyte, and the pup will be more comfortable at home where he can see you. Being in a strange environment is very stressful for a little puppy. It may weaken him and make him less able to resist the disease.
1/2 teaspoon every hour or every other hour
This keeps the stomach coated. When your puppy has parvovirus, it causes extreme inflammation to the lining of the intestines, which can bleed and hemorrhage. This can cause death.
This bleeding is what gives your puppy the hallmark "parvo odor" of a rotten blood smell. Keeping the puppy's intestines coated will help soothe the irritation and bleeding.
Give Pedialyte or a Homemade Substitute
You should do this constantly to keep the puppy from getting dehydrated.
Dehydration is what kills the dog. You must get fluids and electrolytes into their system. You will have to squirt it in with a syringe, dump it in with a teaspoon, or try some other method.
When pups have parvo, they will not eat nor drink by themselves. Whatever you do, just get liquids into them.
How Much to Give
This depends on how large the puppy is. Try to give at least a 2-3 tablespoons every half hour or so, for a medium-sized breed. Give a little more or less than this, according to the size of the dog.
If they throw it up, don't worry, at least some will stay down. Wait a while and give them some more.
Give Ice Chips If There Is Vomiting
Just hold the ice cube in their mouth and make them lick and swallow the cold water.
It helps with the nausea and bellyache. They usually like this, surprisingly enough.
Give Reglan Pills
Give those Reglan pills as per the vet's instructions. These really help calm down your puppy's nausea, intestinal spasms, and distress. It will help the puppy keep fluids down and get some rest.
Wipe the Pup Down and Let Them Rest
You will have to wipe your puppy down often with warm, damp cloths to keep him or her clean. The puppy will have either vomiting or smelly liquid diarrhea or both, and they get messy. So be sure they are kept as clean as possible, and keep them warm and covered up.
Let the puppy rest and be quiet as much as you can. This will help them heal.
Speak soothingly to your pet, and give plenty of loving and petting. Your puppy will get well faster if it knows you are there and that you love him.
Once They Start Getting Better
Ease the Pup Back Into Eating and Drinking
When the puppy starts getting better, you should feed him very small amounts of chicken baby food, plus keep giving the Pedialyte until he starts to drink water on his own again.
- Be sure to wait at least 24 hours after the last vomiting to feed any food. If you make them eat anything sooner, it does not give the intestinal lining enough time to heal and will only prolong the convalescent time.
- Start with just a teaspoon or two of chicken baby food to begin with.
- When your puppy gets ready and is feeling better, he will be hungry all of a sudden and will get up and start eating. Then you will know your puppy is on the mend.
When They're Eating and Drinking on Their Own
When they start drinking and eating on their own again, just give water and small amounts of the baby food at first.
Then, give wet dog food, preferably chicken mixed with mashed up pasta, in equal parts, until they get their digestive tracts working right again, and are feeling better.
You will be surprised how quickly a puppy can bounce back from the jaws of death and turn into a bouncy, happy puppy again! Doesn't take long at all!
Disinfect and Vaccinate
Be aware that parvovirus lives for many years in the soil or on surfaces where an infected animal has been. You must thoroughly disinfect your home and wherever the infected puppy was before bringing another puppy home with you again.
Also, you must make sure that any other new puppies you get are vaccinated before you bring them home.
The Article Does Not Replace a Vet
If you catch it soon enough, start hydrating, giving Pepto, and doing the rest of the above actions, sometimes you can save them.
This advice should never take the place of a licensed veterinarian's recommendations. You absolutely must take your pet to the vet to be tested to make sure that it has parvo, and to get the very necessary medications your dog urgently needs to survive.
You can keep this information in mind when deciding whether to leave your baby at the vet's, or to bring him back home with you and try to nurse him yourself.
Spay or Neuter Your Pets
REMEMBER: Spay or neuter your pets! Do not allow more unwanted babies to come into a world where they will be abused and neglected, and to enter the shelters where they will be cruelly euthanized.
Good luck with your puppy!
More by this Author
What is the right way to take care of a rescue horse? What health and behavioral problems should you expect? How should they be fed and should they be quarantined, and why?