Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is most common in unvaccinated dogs under 1 year of age

One of the most feared contagious viruses seen in small animal clinical practice is canine parvovirus. This aggressive virus is most commonly seen in unvaccinated dogs under 1 year of age. Disease incidence is highest in crowded stressful environments, including kennels and shelters; however, viral transmission may also occur through contact of infected feces at dog parks and on grass on walkways. The virus is very hardy and resistant to many common virocidal agents, and can survive for long periods in the environment. It is not uncommon for many puppies at once to come down with parvo in a crowded, stressful kennel situation.

Clinical signs of parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and often foul bloody diarrhea. Some pets may develop inflammation of the heart muscle, while in other cases sudden death without any clinical signs may occur. While diagnosis of parvovirus can be suspected based on history and clinical presentation, definitive diagnosis is usually made by viral antibody testing of the feces.

Treatment of parvovirus is best done in the veterinary hospital setting, and usually includes IV fluids and antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections. Many dogs with parvovirus will also have intestinal parasites as well, which will also need to be treated. Holistic veterinarians will often report great success in treating parvovirus with herbal therapies, as well as individually prescribed constitutional homeopathic remedies.

Prognosis of parvovirus is guarded, with the cases that are treated early and aggressively having the better prognosis. Prevention of parvovirus is best through proper vaccination of susceptible puppies up to 16 weeks of age. Immunity to parvovirus vaccination lasts for years to the life of the pet, so further vaccination of adult dogs is often not needed, and I will often measure vaccination antibody titers in adult pets instead of vaccinating them, due to my concerns of over-vaccination and vaccination induced disease. I also recommend that animal guardians feed as natural a diet as possible; ideally in my opinion a species appropriate raw meat based diet is best for pets of all ages.

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  3. Hi, I have two puppies that are 4 months old and I’m really worried. We had s third puppy but she died just a few days ago, we are thinking parvo is the cause. The last two puppies are showing the same signs as the other one did before she died. Now the puppy that died also had worms. The puppies are throwing up and have bad runny smelly diarrhea that has blood in it, not really eating, they just had a parvo vaccine about 4 days ago. We don’t have money to take them to the vet, we are a low income family. I don’t know what to do, I am force feeding them rice mixed with cottage cheese and pedialite and letting them run free in our yard to get exercise to try to keep their energy up. Can you tell me if it is for sure parvo or just the worms? And anything else I can do besides taking them into the vet? And with them just having the vaccine is it possible the vaccine will start working already or is it too late for them?

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Sorry to hear about your situation. Without vet exam impossible to tell if parvo and/or worms at same time. Vaccinations take 1-2 weeks to kick in. As for other options, you could try the homeopathic remedy Arsenicum album in 30C potency 1 pellet twice daily for 3 or 4 days as I have used this in parvo cases. You can get this from health food store or homeopathic pharmacy on line. Also worm with broad spectrum wormer like panacure C from 1800petmeds.

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