Parvo is one of the most contagious diseases in dogs that breeders and pet owners alike fear the most. Hence, knowing how to treat parvo at home is a step toward winning the battle against this virus.
In reality, it is always best to partner with a vet when dealing with the canine parvovirus, especially if the infected are young puppies that are not yet old enough to be fully vaccinated.
However, in the instance that reaching a veterinarian urgently may be a challenge or even financially stressful, being aware of the parvo symptoms and how to treat parvo at home may just save your pooch’s life.
What Is Parvo in Dogs?
Parvo, also known as canine parvovirus or CPV, is a fatal and highly contagious virus in dogs that mostly affects the digestive system, such as the stomach and small intestines. The parvovirus damages the cells, impedes absorption, and impairs the gut barrier of infected dogs.
Puppy owners need to be more vigilant since puppies younger than six months are more at risk of acquiring parvovirus, and 85% of puppies not getting the right treatment die from this severe illness.
This lethal virus attacks the bone marrow, lymphopoietic tissues, and even the heart of young dogs in its rarer cardiac form. Like most viral infections, the risk of parvovirus is also much higher in unvaccinated dogs.
Parvovirus also has varying degrees of severity and can be worsened by environmental or other factors. For example, an infected dog suffering from further stress would have a much lower immune system.
Further, if the dog suffering from parvovirus also have secondary infections or intestinal parasites, expect the effect of the canine parvovirus infection to be more severe.
However, with the proper treatment and guidance from a veterinarian, the chances of survival in infected dogs can be as high as 90%.
How Do Dogs Get Parvo?
Parvo spreads through direct contact with the feces of an infected dog and indirectly through contaminated areas, objects, and even people who have been around a sick dog from parvo.
Therefore, without being fully vaccinated, a susceptible dog must avoid areas where many dogs are present, like dog parks and grooming salons.
The only exception to these locations would be puppy classes, where all puppies are required to have at least one dose of the canine parvovirus vaccine.
Likewise, a dog without proper vaccination should also avoid coming in contact with the stuff of a dog infected with parvo, such as food and water bowls, leashes and collars, and toys.
People who handle infected dogs must also avoid having their shoes, slippers, and other articles of clothing come in contact with other dogs and must avoid going to the homes of other dog owners in the meantime.
It is important to note that canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease. Even traces of contaminated feces would be enough to spread the viral infection to other dogs when they are licked or sniffed.
How Long Does Parvo Last in Dogs?
The incubation period of canine parvovirus in puppies and adult dogs is about 4 to 5 days after direct exposure to infected feces or through substances, objects, or people who handle infected dogs.
Aside from the actual period of the severe disease, which could be anywhere between 3 and 7 days on average, a puppy or adult dog will be actively shedding parvovirus for ten more days after their clinical recovery.
With this in mind, it is best to keep them quarantined and avoid contact with other dogs and even dog owners for this duration.
What makes it even tougher is that the actual parvovirus itself is difficult to kill because it is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and dryness. It can last for at least a month indoors and even longer outdoors.
What Are the Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs?
As symptoms of parvo manifest in your dog, that means they have been exposed to the parvovirus about a week before seeing the actual clinical signs.
Other symptoms of parvo in young puppies include bloody diarrhea, fever or low body temperature, abdominal pain, and sudden weight loss.
Take note that these symptoms need not all be present at the same time.
Hence, it is still best for pet owners to bring their canine companions to the nearest vet clinic should they notice even some of these signs to increase the chances of survival for their puppies.
Adult dogs with parvo might display milder symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, which can be yellow or bloody, high fever, loss of appetite, general weakness, and convulsions.
Dog owners should be very observant, especially if they suspect that their dogs may have been exposed to other dogs with parvo.
Watch out for early parvovirus symptoms and bring them to the vet immediately.
How to Diagnose Parvo in Dogs
The proper diagnosis for canine parvovirus must be made by a professional in a veterinary clinic.
The vet may employ different ways to test for parvovirus in dogs, which may include the collection of fecal samples to check for parvo antigens or blood samples to check the level of white blood cells in your dog’s body.
This is important since parvo might share common symptoms with other conditions, such as the presence of intestinal bacteria and parasites or obstructions within a dog’s intestinal tract.
If the test result turns out positive for parvo, expect your dog to be given antibiotics, subcutaneous fluids, intravenous fluids, anti-nausea medications, and even anti-diarrheal medications for immediate treatment.
How to Cure Parvo Without a Vet for Your Dogs
Upon diagnosis of your pet’s parvo, you would now have the option to go for hospitalization or outpatient parvo treatment.
Although hospitalization treatment for your infected dog is ideal and would yield better chances of recovery, it might also be financially difficult for most dog owners.
In fact, a few days of hospital treatment might already cost you anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000. If you do not have pet insurance, this will definitely be stressful from a budget perspective.
Hence, owners of parvo-diagnosed dogs have learned to rely on home remedies that are found to be effective in treating parvo. This can be done with guidance from your local vet as well.
Here are some of the most effective ways to treat parvo at home in case veterinary medicine becomes a challenge.
1. Adequate Hydration
Two of the most common effects of canine parvovirus infection are vomiting and diarrhea. If left uncontrolled, severe dehydration follows, which is one of its leading causes of death, more than the parvovirus itself.
To determine the hydration level in your dog, try to lift the patch of skin above the back of your dog’s shoulder blades. If the skin is elastic enough and snaps back into place, that is a good sign of hydration.
On the other hand, if the skin remains in place, then hydration is a must. Give your dog half a bowl of water and half a bowl of unflavored oral rehydration solution to help replenish your dog’s fluid and electrolyte levels.
You may also ask your vet to provide you with medical-grade fluids that you can inject into your dog yourself. Usually, these fluids are injected intravenously in between the shoulder blades.
It is best to consult with your vet regarding how often and the detailed instructions on how to administer these fluids carefully.
Meanwhile, here is a video to guide you in administering fluids subcutaneously to your dehydrated dogs:
2. Proper Nutrition & Supplementation
Expect that dogs with parvo would have diminished appetites. Therefore, giving them a palatable and easily digestible diet should help the overall parvo treatment by giving the dog the nutrition it needs to fight weakness.
For puppies, it is best to give canned baby food that also contains a good amount of moisture. If they refuse to eat, you can dilute the food with water and feed your puppy using a syringe or a dropper.
Other easily digestible food would be boiled white rice and raw egg, which are also effective in supporting the puppy’s immune system.
You can also mix these with baby food to make it more aromatic and palatable.
Giving apple cider vinegar may also help in providing gut comfort as it has properties to fight any bacterial infection.
On the other hand, activated charcoal will be effective in removing toxins and relieving digestive orders in dogs with parvo, while vitamin C should boost their overall body resistance to fight the illness.
Overall, treating dogs with proper nutrition while they have parvo should help their intestines to recover, help bring back their gut’s proper motility, and give them the energy they need to heal completely.
3. Give Antibiotics
Antibiotics may not do anything to kill parvovirus in dogs, but they will help eradicate any secondary bacterial infections that may make the situation worse for the sick dog.
Please make sure to consult your vet about the right brand, dosage, and method of administration of antibiotics to achieve the best results.
4. Provide Anti-diarrheal Medications
Part of treating parvo is controlling diarrhea, which is one of the main drivers of dehydration in dogs with parvo.
Hence, having your dog take anti-diarrheal medicines with a vet’s guidance is necessary to control their fluid loss and ease their discomfort as well.
5. Administer Anti-nausea Medications
A dog suffering from parvo is likely to experience nausea, and feeding it anything might just end up being vomited. This can also cause general weakness, dehydration, and eventually death.
Part of the parvo treatment is managing the nausea of your dog through proper medication, as prescribed by your veterinarian. These types of medication are usually taken orally once or twice a day.
6. Give Pain Medications
Part of home parvo treatment is alleviating the pain being felt by your dog in its stomach. Once this pain is relieved, your dog will be encouraged to eat, drink, and sleep, which should speed up the healing process.
However, only use medication prescribed by veterinarians since many of the pain medications for humans may be toxic to dogs.
7. Regulate Body Temperature
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.0° to 102.5°F (38.3° to 39.2°C), and the parvovirus will cause fluctuations in your dog’s body temperature.
This will cause your dog great discomfort and may also damage its organs.
If your dog experiences fever, give them paracetamol or cool their body down with a wet towel. On the other hand, if their temperature drops, warm them up with a heating lamp or wrap a blanket around them.
8. Homeopathic Remedy
Homeopathy refers to the practice of using substances that may produce symptoms if administered in toxic doses but also have a curing effect for the same symptoms if given in much lower doses.
With the guidance of your veterinarian and with diligent research, you may explore this path to parvo treatment with caution. This can be a very potent remedy if executed properly.
Just to reiterate, all the home remedies mentioned in the list above must not be administered without thorough research and professional guidance.
However, once all these treatments at home are executed properly and consistently, you are already one step ahead in winning the battle against the fatal parvovirus.
When to See Your Vet
Part of responsible dog ownership is knowing when to see your vet during certain periods of your dog’s condition.
To start, you need to go to the vet for an accurate diagnosis of your dog’s illness, to consult on the proper way of administering the home remedy suggestions, and to get prescriptions for medications needing them.
Once you have started your dog’s home treatment and you notice extended bouts of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy, there is a possibility that septicemia or bloodstream infection has started to occur.
In these cases, there is a greater likelihood that your dog may die due to dehydration, hunger, or infection. Hence, to save the life of your puppy, veterinary intervention becomes critical.
On the other hand, if home treatment is successful and the symptoms of parvo have disappeared, it is best to do a follow-up check-up so your vet can confirm if the infection is gone or if additional intervention is needed.
Further, if your puppy has not yet completed its parvo vaccines, your vet can also advise when it is already safe for your puppy to get its next parvo vaccine to prevent the recurrence of the disease.
Understandably, a big hesitation in seeing a vet would be the huge cost involved in treating parvo.
That is why securing pet insurance should also ease the burden on you from having to spend a huge amount on medical emergencies and treatment.
How to Prevent Parvo in Dogs
The good thing about parvovirus is that it is not airborne, so it is easier to control compared to other contagious diseases in dogs.
The very first defense of your dog from this deadly virus is through parvovirus vaccination. Though this does not totally eliminate the risk of infection in properly vaccinated dogs, it greatly lowers it.
Further, if you adopted an older dog from an animal shelter, it would be best to give it a parvo booster vaccine first, especially since it comes from a place where many dogs are present.
Another good practice to prevent parvo is to practice strict hygiene at home. A useful tip is to have a separate set of footwear to use inside your house, especially in areas where your dogs roam around.
Cleaning up immediately after your dog’s poop is critical too. Remember that even trace samples of the virus in the feces of infected dogs would be enough to spread the virus directly.
Lastly, make it a habit to clean and disinfect. Upon your dog’s recovery from parvo, give it a good bath and make sure to thoroughly clean parts of its fur that may have been in contact with feces while it was sick.
You would also need to use diluted bleach to disinfect the main and the surrounding areas where your sick dog was during the duration of its illness regularly for at least a month and longer if they are outside in a yard.
Dog Breeds That Are More Susceptible to Parvo
There are certain breeds that show a particular disposition to parvovirus. Hence, particular care should be given to the following breeds:
- Doberman Pinscher
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- English Springer Spaniel
- German Shepherd Dog
- Labrador Retriever
It would then be wiser to seek parvo-vaccinated puppies when trying to scout for these breeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Fastest Way to Cure Parvo for Dogs?
There is no known cure yet for parvo, but the fastest way to heal the associated diseases like dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness is to keep your dog hydrated with fluids and provide adequate nutrition.
If puppies survive the first 3 to 4 days of infection, they are more likely to survive.
Can Parvo Be Cured Without Treatment?
With a mortality rate of 91%, most patients will not survive parvo without treatment and may die within 48 to 72 hours due to severe life-threatening dehydration brought about by vomiting and diarrhea.
What Foods Can Cure Parvo in Dogs?
Once vomiting has been controlled within the first 12 to 24 hours of infection, palatable and easily digestible foods may be given to provide infected dogs nutrients to help them fight lethargy and boost their immune system.
Some of these foods include canned wet food, boiled white rice, and raw eggs. Supplements for healthy digestion may also be given, such as apple cider vinegar, activated charcoal, and probiotics.
Can Raw Eggs Help With Parvo?
A raw egg is very effective in treating parvo since it has 40 different components to help the dog recover from the condition, including water, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
Further, egg whites are rich in ovalbumin and ovomucoid, which aid in slowly bringing back the healthy digestive functionality of parvo patients.
Can We Give Water to a Dog With Parvo?
A dog with parvo undergoes extreme dehydration, creating electrolyte imbalance. Given this condition, it is best to not just give water alone but mix it with oral rehydration solutions to bring back lost electrolytes.
Further, fluid therapy is important to keep the dog hydrated and may be given subcutaneously or intravenously.
Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Parvo?
No vaccine can guarantee 100% immunity from the parvovirus, but the chance of vaccinated puppies or dogs getting the virus once vaccinated is slim.
Some instances where a vaccinated dog may get the virus is if it acquires it before the full set of vaccines is completed, if they are hit with another strain of parvo, or if vaccination was not done properly.
Dealing with parvovirus is one of the most stressful moments in becoming a dog owner. Along with the high cost of treatment, it makes you worry about the survival of your canine companion.
The good news is there are a lot of remedies now available to help you treat this condition at home.
However, you also need to ensure that your vet properly guides you as you administer these to get the best results.
If you have successfully tried any ways to cure your dog’s parvo at home, share your great experience with us by commenting below!