Why Parvovirus Isn’t As Scary As You Think

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[NOTE: Is your dog being over-vaccinated? Grab this free guide and compare your dog’s vaccine schedule to what current research considers safe and protective. Click Here.]

Parvovirus is terrifying. Especially when a case of just one dog with parvo is described as “an outbreak” in the press.

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This case reported on July 14th 2016 was successfully contained and the shelter reopened on July 25th.

Of course, a parvo case at a shelter is especially worrying because dogs are housed close together. Their immune systems are likely compromised because they’re stressed …so contagious disease can quickly spread.

And parvo can kill. A quick search brings up reports of 90% mortality rates for untreated cases (or 5% to 10% “if aggressively treated”).

It’s unlikely for an adult dog to get parvo (unless they’re immune compromised). Puppies however are especially susceptible to parvovirus infection.

Of course you want to protect your puppy from parvo at all costs.

Keep reading to find out why vaccination isn’t necessarily the best option before you rush out and vaccinate your dog against parvo.

[NOTE: Is your dog being over-vaccinated? Grab this free guide and compare your dog’s vaccine schedule to what current research considers safe and protective. Click Here.]

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Vaccination May Not Be The Answer

Not surprisingly, this is a topic people get quite upset about. Most people who’ve witnessed a puppy suffering from parvo will react with near-hysteria if you even hint at the possibility that your puppy may be better off unvaccinated.

But there’s quite a lot of evidence to suggest that’s the case.

First of all, parvo vaccination doesn’t always protect against the disease. Since vaccinated puppies shed the virus for up to three weeks after their shots, vaccination can contribute to spreading the disease.

Second (this is the big one), if your puppy does get parvo, statistics show he’s more likely to die if he’s been vaccinated.

Parvo Vaccine Efficacy

Every single vaccination comes with risks, and one of those risks is that it may not work.

In August 2010, industry magazine The Veterinarian published an article by Dr Mark Kelman of French pharmaceutical company Virbac Animal Health.

The article reported that a surprisingly high number of parvovirus cases reported in 2010 to the Virbac Disease WatchDog (a pet disease surveillance database endorsed by the Australian Veterinary Association) were vaccinated animals:

“Animals that have received at least one vaccination represent 28 per cent of puppies infected, and 11 per cent of adults infected.” 

Those are quite high numbers, especially considering how most veterinarians strongly pressure you to vaccinate your puppy against parvo … when it may not even protect him from the disease. But of course, your vet probably won’t tell you that last part (and she may not know – but she should, and she should tell you about it).

The other crucial piece of information is how vaccination can affect your dog’s chances of surviving parvo if he gets the disease.

Parvo Survival Rates

Homeopathic veterinarian Todd Cooney DVM CVH stopped using parvo vaccinations in 2010. He switched to using wellness packages that included homeopathic nosodes to protect his patients.

Nosodes are homeopathic medicines made from the products of disease. They can be highly effective in protecting against disease, especially if they’re used close to the time of exposure.

Dr Cooney monitored his practice case records over an 18 month period.

Here's what he observed:

  • Of 175 puppies who got the wellness package, 12 got parvo.
    • 10 (83%) survived
    • 2 (17%) died
  • 35 other puppies who did not receive the wellness package also came down with parvo
    • 20 (57%) survived
    • 15 (43%) died
  • 19 (40%) of the 47 total puppies who got parvo had been vaccinated.

And there’s more to the story.

It’s revealing to note the difference in parvo survival and mortality rates between vaccinated puppies and puppies who received nosodes.

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What Dr Cooney’s records show is that:

  • Vaccination failed to protect 19 puppies
  • The survival rate of vaccinated puppies was much lower (20%) than the puppies who only got nosodes (50%).
  • The mortality rate of vaccinated puppies was much higher (76%) than the puppies who just got nosodes (0%).

Dr Cooney observes:

“All puppies received only homeopathic medicines for treatment [….] Non-vaccinated pups usually respond much more quickly to a homeopathic remedy and are more likely to survive compared to vaccinated pups.”

Another Study

Amber Technologies, a company that makes herbal remedies for pets, has another example of the effects of vaccination on parvo survival rates. From 1997 on they’ve offered a product (then called Parvaid, now known as Paxxin) that has treated thousands of puppies with parvo.

In 2008 Ambertech surveyed their customers to find out the impact vaccination had on parvo survival.

They found that among puppies treated with Parvaid:

  • 66% of recently vaccinated puppies survived parvo
  • 91% of unvaccinated puppies survived parvo

The same protocol treated both groups of puppies. Yet the survival rates were much higher in the unvaccinated puppies.

So, while it’s alarming that vaccination might not protect your puppy, the other side of the coin is that NOT vaccinating him can greatly improve the odds he will recover from parvo if he gets it.

What This Means Is … 

Parvo can be much less scary than it seems … because the survival rates increase significantly for unvaccinated puppies.

There are many natural ways to prevent and treat parvovirus (click here to read about natural prevention and treatment options) that can offer your dog an excellent chance at recovery … especially if he’s unvaccinated.

We’re not telling you you shouldn’t vaccinate your puppy for parvo.  That’s a decision that only you can make. You have to be comfortable in your choice between the risks of vaccination vs the risks of not vaccinating. Visit this link for a more detailed article about parvo vaccination that can help you determine the best option for your puppy.

If you’d like to use homeopathic nosodes for your puppy, contact a homeopathic vet.  You can find one at theavh.org or pivh.org. Many homeopathic vets will do phone consults so they don’t have to be local.

If you don’t already work with a homeopathic vet, now is a very good time to find one. Don’t wait until your puppy is sick and it becomes an emergency!

[NOTE: Is your dog being over-vaccinated? Grab this free guide and compare your dog’s vaccine schedule to what current research considers safe and protective. Click Here.]

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About the Author Julia Henriques

Julia Henriques is Managing Editor of Dogs Naturally Magazine. She's on the Board of Playing Again Sams (Wisconsin Samoyed Rescue) where she enjoys helping adopters and group members choose more natural health care options for their dogs. She lives in Chicago with her partner Marc and two rescue Samoyeds.