How to Help a Puppy With Parvo
What Is Parvo?
Parvo (aka Canine Parvovirus) is an extremely contagious virus. It attacks the lining of a dog's intestines, which leaks poisons into their system, causing sepsis. Parvo is such a tenacious virus that, if your dog is an inside dog, everything that your dog has touched (and everything he/she might have touched) must be thoroughly bleached, disinfected, etc. Even then, the Parvovirus is so strong that you can't really assume that even the strongest cleaners have taken care of it. However, bleach is the best thing to use.
Even when your dog is just going to go potty, the Parvo that is in your dog's feces stays in the ground for between a few months up to a year. Parvo is very durable against the elements. It can stay alive in dog feces for over three months from the time the dog had that particular bowel movement. It's even been suggested that it can survive up to nine months.
Parvo has quite a high mortality rate, but it doesn't always come from the virus itself. Most deaths resulting from Parvo have been from dehydration.
What the Parvovirus Looks Like
Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus
Canine Parvovirus can infect any dog of any age, but puppies under the age of 6 months can be particularly susceptible to the disease, especially if the owner has not been able to get them their vaccinations.
Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus
- Depression—Your dog will be lethargic, have very little energy or interest in anything and will appear just flat-out mopey. They'll even have a flat-out dull, lifeless quality to their eyes.
- Lack of Appetite—It's especially noticeable when you know that your dog is practically a combination of vacuum and garbage disposal. But even if your dog doesn't have a voracious, lusty appetite normally, you can still tell it when you go to feed your dog at the normal time and they just don't want to eat. My dog just kinda poked her nose at her food for the barest second and I couldn't get her to eat.
- Vomiting—A lot of times when a dog has Parvo, they can't even hold down water. This is very dangerous I can't stress that enough.
- Diarrhea/Bloody Stool—The most telling symptom of Parvo is the bloody stool. The first dog that I ever had that had Parvo had this. It was very liquidy and quite bloody, and it stank more than feces normally does.
Parvovirus in Dogs
Treating Your Dog
When my puppy, Sophia, got Parvo last week, I was completely stunned and didn't know what to do. I saw in her the same symptoms that my last puppy, Echo, had had. I hadn't had Echo a week before she died. She'd caught the Parvo from the animal shelter we'd gotten her from and by the time it showed itself, there wasn't really anything that could be done. We'd tried taking her to a vet, but unfortunately, since we didn't have the almost $1,000 right there on the spot for the treatments they had recommended (I still hate Banfield to this day), they denied Echo the care that she deserved.
With Sophia, I called a nearby vet. He couldn't really see Sophia either, but he was sympathetic, and he explained to me that really, there's not a whole lot that vets can do anyway. He explained to me, as I mentioned earlier, that the big killer where it comes to Parvo is the dehydration and malnutrition. So, here is where I pass along to you what he told me.
Tips to Treating Your Dog's Parvo
- Keep your dog hydrated! This can't really be done with water, however. If you notice that your pet can't even hold down water, then you don't want to try to give them water OR food, as that will get your pet into a drink/vomit cycle that will take more and more out of her/him. Go to your local grocery store and get some Swanson's Chicken Broth and some Children's Pedialyte. These have electrolytes that your dog needs to stay hydrated as well as the fact that the Swanson's Chicken Broth has nutrients that will keep your dog from getting malnourished.
- Get Pepto Bismol tabs. The Pepto tabs can help your dog with the nausea and vomiting so that they can keep the broth and Pedialyte down
Give your dog a small portion, between a teaspoon or a cup, of the Swanson's Chicken Broth every 3 hours. Sophia needed quite a bit of coaxing. I think it was partly because of the nausea as well as the depression. We'll get to that in a minute.
Give your dog a half a Pepto tab 2 times a day.
And, just as important as the above two: Give your dog lots of lovin's and attention. Depression in a dog, in my opinion, can be even more dangerous than depression in a human, especially when the dog is sick. Dogs, by their very naures, are happy creatures, so to see a depressed dog is to see a dog who has forgotton why it is that they need to live, to try to get over their sickness, etc. Not to mention that when a dog has Parvo, the misery they must be suffering at the disease probably isn't helping them.
So, as often as you are able, go be with your puppy. Hold her/him, pet them, and talk to them. Believe it or not, but your dog can understand you. Talk to her/him of the memories you have with them, when it was that you first saw them and new that they were the companion for you. Talk to them of all the things that you look forward to doing. Remind them of all the reasons why they can't give up and let the sickness take them over. Remind them of what it would do to you to lose them, what it would do to your family. Tell them of places that you want to go with them, sights that you want them to see. For instance, if you've got an upcoming vacation to the beach, tell them about the ocean, what the sand feels like and how you just KNOW that they would love to play in the surf. Stuff like that. Tell them how much you love them most of all. Dogs thrive on love and affection, so give them what they thrive on. Your dog deserves nothing less from you.
When I went through this with my puppy...
When I went through this with my puppy, Sophia, last week, I noticed improvement the next day. I didn't have to encourage her so much to drink the broth; she went right to it on her own, and I noticed more pep and energy in her. So I took it upon myself to try to see if she would be able to hold something a little more solid in her stomach.
Now either she wasn't ready for it or she just didn't like it, but I tried making an egg and meat shake for her. I put in slices of turkey deli meat and 2 eggs into my Magic Bullet (hopefully you have a blender or something like that) and ground it up until it was almost a liquid. I ended up dipping my finger in it and putting it on her tongue. It would really help if you have a feeding syringe or a turkey baster. Eggs are really good for dogs, they've got lots of protein and other nutrients that dogs need. And I prefer to use turkey or some kind of poultry like chicken. Poultry deli meat is already cooked and poultry is rich in iron, which is good for dogs. It helps replenishes what they've lost with the blood they've lost in their stool. Mind you, the point of these shakes is not to fill them up; it's to give them just enough so that they're still getting nutrients that they need. You don't want to force them to eat too much, otherwise they might start the vomit cycle all over again.
Keep up this routine (the Broth and/or Pedialyte, the Pepto tabs, and the egg/meat shakes) until you notice your dog's energy coming back. When they look like they're pretty much back to their normal selves, start introducing solid food back to them in small portions, gradually increasing it back to what you normally give to them over a couple of days.
Have you ever had a dog with Parvo?
In conclusion, while Parvo is an extremely nasty disease that does often have a high mortality rate, you still have hope even if you can't afford to take your dog to the vet. The biggest thing to remember is to keep your dog hydrated. That can't be stressed enough. Keeping your dog hydrated and giving him/her lots of love and attention, your dog has a fighting chance. Just help him/her to remember not to give up.
Blessed be and good luck.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.