What’s the Role of Electrolytes in Parvo Treatment?
Electrolytes in Parvo Treatment
The Canine Parvovirus, or Parvo for short, is one of the most feared viral diseases in dogs, and for good reason. It comes with extremely damaging gastrointestinal effects and if left untreated, has a mortality rate of about 90%. The good news is that, although there’s currently no specific cure for Parvo, supportive care from veterinary professionals and at-home reinforcement from dedicated dog owners increases a sick pup’s chances of survival to 92%.
Generally, the treatment regimen is aimed at supporting the body’s functions throughout the healing process and involves a series of medications. However, in order for treatment to be successful, infected dogs will need to receive supplemental electrolytes until they make a complete recovery.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals found in the blood, urine, sweat, and other bodily fluids of both humans and animals. They allow the body to function normally by conducting electricity from one body part to another and are involved in many important bodily processes, like muscle movement, skeletal coordination, heart contraction, nerve conduction, proper hydration, and blood pH regulation. Carrying either a negative or a positive charge, electrolytes balance each other out.
6 Most Important Electrolytes
Sodium is the electrolyte responsible for maintaining the balance of water inside the body. Mostly found in the blood and fluids inside the cells, it’s needed for proper muscle and nerve function. It also helps to keep blood pressure levels stable.
Just like sodium, potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid levels inside the body. It’s also essential for normal muscle contractions, nerve conduction, and blood pressure stabilization.
Chloride is an electrolyte that works to maintain the right amount of fluid both inside and around the cells. It also helps to normalize blood pressure, blood volume, and the pH of body fluids.
Carrying a negative charge, bicarbonate is an electrolyte that helps maintain the balance between acid and base inside the body and promotes proper digestion. It also helps to neutralize the acid content of ingested foods.
Phosphorus is the electrolyte that’s mainly responsible for bone and teeth formation. It also plays a major role in how the body converts and uses fats and carbohydrates. In addition to that, phosphorus aids in protein production, as well as cellular and tissue repair.
Calcium is one of the most important electrolytes found inside the body. Aside from keeping the bones and teeth strong and healthy, it also helps in blood clot formation, as well as muscle and heart contraction.
Why Do Dogs with Parvo Need Electrolytes?
Two of the main symptoms of Parvo are severe vomiting and diarrhea. Oftentimes, this leads to dehydration, which is the most common cause of death in infected dogs.
To prevent this from happening, veterinarians include supplemental fluids and electrolytes in the Parvo treatment regimen. Not only does this help infected dogs stay hydrated but it also keeps their body functioning properly, making the recovery process easier and more comfortable for them.
How Are Electrolytes Given to Dogs with Parvo?
Electrolytes come in various forms. Many dog owners offer their sick pets ready-made electrolytes, such as unflavored Pedialyte, which is a child’s drink; or Bullyade, which is basically Pedialyte for canines. Both are great for rehydrating pets, especially ones that are sick or refusing to eat. In some cases, electrolyte drinks have even helped dogs overcome Parvo.
Other ways to supply electrolytes to pets include subcutaneous injections (injected under the skin) and intravenous administration. However, dogs admitted in animal hospitals usually receive supplemental electrolytes intravenously since it’s easier to maintain normal electrolyte levels that way. Constant hydration restores fluid balance and helps recovering animals to stay strong enough to fight against Parvo. There are plenty of fluid and electrolyte solutions available, but the fluid of choice for Parvo-infected pups is a balanced electrolyte solution.