Canine Parvovirus is a devastating disease and it can be very scary to receive the initial diagnosis. However, once it has been confirmed that an animal has the disease, there are several different Parvo treatments to consider, including in-hospital fluid therapy, antibiotics, and probiotics. Different therapies may be recommended on a case-by-case basis, depending on the level of severity and how early the diagnosis is made. Due to the highly contagious and lethal nature of the disease, Parvo typically requires hospitalization and aggressive treatment while in isolation.
Shedding is the period of time in which a virus is excreted after successful reproduction inside of a host. The virus is still able to be transmitted to other animals at this point, and can be shed in the feces right before clinical symptoms develop and up to about fourteen days after the symptoms are treated. Since the virus can be shed when a dog appears otherwise healthy, dogs should be quarantined for at least two weeks after treatment to prevent the spread of disease to other animals.
According to the ASPCA, “Fourteen-day quarantines should only be undertaken if it is within the shelter’s capacity to do so humanely. Quarantine in foster care can be considered if appropriate biosecurity is feasible in the foster home. With appropriate monitoring and disclosure, proceeding with placement of exposed puppies can also be considered.”
Treatment At The Vet
There are several therapies that your veterinarian may use to treat your dog’s symptoms. These include fluid and nutrient replenishment to treat severe vomiting and diarrhea, as well as antibiotics and other medications to combat the secondary illnesses that may result from Canine Parvovirus.
Fluids and Nutrient Replenishment
The most important goal of Parvo treatment is restoring the fluid and electrolyte balance. Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly dehydrate an animal, so as soon as a dog is diagnosed, fluid therapy should begin immediately. After looking at blood samples, low blood sugar and low nutrient levels can be addressed through the use of fluids and supplements. Your veterinarian will most likely administer fluids and potassium through an IV, used to boost electrolyte levels and maintain blood pressure. Oral intakes are usually avoided due to vomiting, so medicine is typically administered through intravenous methods.
If a dog is not responding to the traditional fluid therapy, your veterinarian may administer a blood plasma transfusion. This is a more recent development for treating Parvo, and the procedure can be quite costly. However, it can be very beneficial for expanding blood volume and replacing proteins that have been lost due to the disease. Plasma transfusion also contains antibodies (blood proteins created to fight foreign substances in the body) that work against Parvo, and can aid in more severe cases.
A dog’s intestines naturally have good bacteria that is negatively flushed out with frequent diarrhea and vomiting caused by Parvo. This process also causes small cuts in the intestines which may allow the bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. This is known as sepsis, and in order to counteract it, antibiotics are administered by injection. Some common prescription antibiotics include Cefazolin, Metronidazole, Cephalexin, Ampicillin, Gentamicin, and Trimethoprim-sulfa. For more detailed information about these antibiotics, check out our blog!
Dogs that are at high risk for secondary bacterial infections will likely receive these treatments, and some veterinarians may prescribe antacids as well (Troiano, 2017). Additionally, medications used to hinder nausea and stop vomiting may be used, and may even bring back a dog’s appetite. There is no specific drug that can kill Parvo, however treatment is intended to support the dog’s body while his or her immune system is built up to fight off the viral disease.
At Home Care
Once your dog is home from the hospital, he or she will require round-the-clock care from you in order to recover. It is important to aid your dog during the recovery process, through means of diet, medications, and other care.
Once your dog has been released from the hospital, it is recommended to give your pup probiotics in order to replenish the normal intestinal flora (good bacteria). Probiotics restore a dog’s gastrointestinal tract by balancing electrolytes and proteins in the bloodstream.
Probiotics are especially important if your animal has been treated with antibiotics that kill bacteria, good and bad. The constant vomiting and diarrhea can also weaken the digestive system, and probiotics can aid in absorbing nutrients again and digesting food normally. To keep your dog as healthy as possible, try adding a safe and natural probiotic to your dog’s food.
The majority of animals will only eat a diet of bland, small meals. If your dog is vomiting and experiencing diarrhea, try to offer your dog wet food. Wet food is easier to digest than kibble, and has a higher fluid intake. You can also try to give your dog cooked chicken and rice. For more diet tips, check out our blog, “A Smart Diet for Dogs with Parvovirus.”
Anti-nausea medications can help stop vomiting and increase a dog’s appetite. Continue a regimen of anti-nausea pills as instructed by your veterinarian until the dog is able to keep regular food down again. This process will usually take about a week or two.
If your dog has been prescribed antibiotics, make sure you administer the whole prescription, even if your pup seems to be back to normal. Antibiotics can help treat secondary infections that may occur as a result of the disease.
Dogs that have been diagnosed with Parvo should be kept warm, as they are susceptible to secondary diseases. A nice warm dog bed is ideal for your pup’s recovery. Here are a few dog beds that we suggest you try, as comfort was our number one priority while searching out the best dog bed options.
Parvo causes a dog to lose control of regulating his or her own body temperature. We suggest using a warm blanket to wrap your dog in to ensure that he or she stays warm and comfortable once at home. Keep warm blankets on hand especially after you give your dog a bath, as your dog can become easily chilled after being in the water. For more information about washing your dog with Parvo, check out our blog on bath time.
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Canine Coddler - The Original Dog Anti-Anxiety Blanket
In the event that your dog still cannot completely control his or her bowels, you may want to cover your floors with puppy pads to protect them from damage and contamination. You can either choose a disposable pee pad for easy clean up, or a washable one that you can use over and over again.
TOP 5 FAQ
Are Parvo shots necessary?
YES! Vaccinating your dog for Parvovirus is the best defense against the disease. If you do not vaccinate, it is important to keep your dog away from areas with other dogs such as dog parks, in order to limit potential exposure.
Can Parvo be cured?
With proper treatment, Parvo can and will be shed from a dog’s body. Your dog can then be vaccinated to prevent future infection.
Which antibiotic is used to treat Parvo?
Most antibiotics need a prescription from a veterinarian. The most common antibiotics include Cefazolin, Metronidazole, Cephalexin, Ampicillin, Gentamicin, and Trimethoprim-sulfa.
Can Parvo come back after it is treated?
After a dog has had the virus, it is unlikely they he or she will get Parvo again as immunity to the disease typically lasts for a few years. However, it is highly recommended that you get your dog vaccinated for Parvo to prevent future contraction.
Why is Parvo treatment so expensive?
Treating the disease can be quite costly due to the round-the-clock care that is required with hospitalization. It is significantly more expensive to treat than it is to prevent, as medical expenses including fluid transfusions can start to add up.
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How expensive is Parvo treatment?
To treat the symptoms of Canine Parvovirus including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, it can cost anywhere around $500-$2,000 depending on the severity of the disease and the veterinarian that you go to.
What should I expect after Parvo treatment?
After treatment, your dog may be very tired and lethargic. Make sure to follow after-care instructions from your veterinarian, including administering any medications, feeding a specific bland diet, and keeping your dog comfortable and in a quiet area of your home. Your dog may continue to shed the virus in his or her feces after treatment, so continue to clean and disinfect after your dog.