Parvovirus creates fear in even the most seasoned dog owners and veterinarians. Hearing the word parvo brings images of dying puppies to mind. It can break your heart instantly.
Parvo is a very serious illness and I'm going to tell you all you need to know about it.
But this post isn't to scare you. I want you to feel confident and calm when your vet mentions parvovirus at your puppy's first visit.
Let’s dive deeper into what parvovirus is ... so you have a better understanding of how it can affect your dog. I'll also tell you how to prevent it naturally and how you can naturally manage parvovirus at home.
But If your puppy already has parvovirus ... don't waste time. Jump straight to Home Care For Your Parvovirus Puppy.
What Is Parvovirus?
Parvovirus (CPV) is a viral infection that spreads by contact with infected dogs. Dogs can also pick up the virus through contact with infected feces (which you can bring home on your shoes).
Parvovirus can live in soil for months, depending on the temperature. It quickly attacks the rapidly dividing cells in the lining of the digestive tract. But it can also attack young immune cells.
Puppies are more severely affected than adults. The hallmark of parvo is blood-stained feces. The feces often have a yellowish tinge and a very distinct and unpleasant smell.
What Are The Symptoms Of Parvovirus?
Parvo itself rarely kills dogs. It's the associated dehydration and secondary infection that can be deadly.
Some breeds of dog seem to be more susceptible to parvo. The black and tan breeds are more vulnerable. Keep this in mind if your puppy is a Rottweiler or Doberman Pinscher. You'll want to know the signs and symptoms so you can act fast.
The symptoms of parvovirus include:
How Is Parvovirus Diagnosed?
Fortunately, parvovirus is easy for vets to diagnose. Your veterinarian can analyze a stool sample for the parvovirus antigen with a SNAP test. This test accurately detects parvovirus antigen in the stool in about 10 minutes.
Your vet will also run bloodwork while you wait. This is to check your puppy's immune cells and hydration. It'll show how badly the virus is attacking his cells.
NOTE: If your puppy has been recently vaccinated, the SNAP test will not detect the vaccine strain of parvovirus (CPV-2)
A Closer Look At Conventional Prevention With The Parvovirus Vaccine
One reason vets advocate vaccination for parvovirus is that the cost of treating the illness can be high. Vet bills totalling in the thousands are not unusual.
Most puppy owners are willing to pay these large bills to save their puppies ... but not everyone can afford it.
At first glance, it makes sense. Vaccinate your puppy to avoid costly vet bills or loss of life in the future. But here’s what they don’t tell you (and it’s pretty important).
Your puppy can beat parvo naturally. Yes, this deadly virus can be beat if you're up for the challenge.
When you look at the facts, the fear hype won't alarm you so much. You can then start making more intelligent vaccination decisions.
Base those decisions on science instead of fear. Once you do, you may find that what first seems like a simple vaccine is decidedly complicated.
So let’s review what you need to consider when you make vaccination decisions for your puppy.
#1 Is The Disease Dangerous?
Despite the media scares and dire veterinary warnings, parvo has a survival rate of about 85%. This doesn’t mean 15% of puppies die from parvo.
It means that 15% of puppies who are exposed to it and actually catch it will die. But the survival rate is greatly influenced by the treatment options. We’ll get into this a bit later.
#2 Is The Parvovirus Vaccine Safe?
It's difficult to determine the rate of adverse reactions for vaccines. That’s because they’re rarely reported back to vets and manufacturers.
Most adverse cases you hear about are extreme cases. These include puppies who develop hives or hydrocephalus within 24 hours. But few people recognize the chronic diseases that vaccines create. Chronic illness can take days, weeks, months or years to develop after vaccination. That means people (and vets) often don't make the connection.
Remember this when your dog develops a chronic health issue after any vaccine.
So let’s review in more detail some of the safety concerns with the parvo vaccine.
The Risk Of Toxin Exposure
When you vaccinate your puppy, the maternal antibodies will often block the vaccine. The immune system your puppy gets from his mother responds as it would to a real virus. So vets repeat the vaccinations, hoping the maternal antibodies wear off so the vaccine can work.
I’ll share more about maternal antibodies in a bit.
But there's something maternal antibodies can’t do. They can't protect your puppy against the chemical soup of adjuvants in vaccines.
These chemicals can include:
So … by giving your puppy a series of vaccinations, you inject him with more and more toxins. This weakens his immune system and increases his risk of illness later.
The purpose of the toxins in vaccines is to stimulate an exaggerated immune response. This helps the body respond to the small amount of virus in the vaccine.
Unfortunately, this heightened reaction can also cause chronic disease, including autoimmune problems.
A Risk Of Autoimmune Disease
The Purdue studies (in the 1990s) revealed how vaccination can cause chronic disease. Although labeled as inconclusive at the time, they provided some important information.
They found vaccinated dogs developed autoantibodies to many of their own biochemicals, including:
This should have sounded some pretty serious alarms!
Instead, the researchers found good homes for the dogs. They decided long-term follow-up wasn’t necessary. They felt they needed more research before taking any action.
A Link To Cancer
The AVMA Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force also initiated several studies in the 1990s. They wanted to find out why 160,000 US cats a year were getting terminal cancer at their vaccine sites.
These studies acknowledged that vaccine-induced cancer exists. But the Task Force decided the best plan was to continue vaccinating. The focus shifted to figuring out which cats were most likely to die.
They also suggested vaccinating cats in their tails. That makes it easy to lop them off if they develop cancer from the vaccines.
Dogs are not immune to this risk.
The Journal of Veterinary Medicine shared a study on vaccine-induced cancers in dogs. This article also noted that cancers were found at vaccine injection sites.
It can happen in humans too. The Salk Polio vaccine was shown to carry a monkey retrovirus ... because they cultivated it on monkey organs. The monkey virus SV40 produces inheritable cancer and turns up in human cancer sites.
A Risk To The Heart
Dr Larry Glickman, who spearheaded the Purdue studies, said:
“Our ongoing studies of dogs show that following routine vaccination, there is a significant rise in the level of antibodies dogs produce against their own tissues.
"Some of these antibodies have been shown to target the thyroid gland, connective tissue… red blood cells, DNA, etc. I do believe that the heart conditions in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels could be the end result of repeated immunizations by vaccines containing tissue culture contaminants that cause a progressive immune response directed at connective tissue in the heart valves.”
The heart disease Glickman is talking about is cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy in dogs used to be very rare.
But, since the parvo pandemic of 1978, cardiomyopathy has become more prevalent. Many breeds now get it. So breeders screen their dogs for this fatal disease.
Vaccination is likely the cause of most cases of cardiomyopathy. Prior cases of the condition were not associated with parvo.
Parvovirus Vaccination Can Lead To More Parvo
A final safety concern is that vaccinated dogs are virally active. This means for 21 days after vaccination, they shed the virus every time they ...
So … when you weigh the safety concerns of the parvo vaccine, there’s a lot to consider.
Now, let's review how effective the vaccine actually is against parvo.
# 3 Is The Parvovirus Vaccine Effective?
Many vets and pet owners used to believe more is better on the question of vaccines. But we now know there are real dangers associated with vaccinations and over-vaccination.
I said I’d get back to maternal antibodies. Here's more explanation.
The goal of the repetitive, conventional puppy vaccine schedule is to catch the window when maternal antibodies are low. This can prevent maternal antibodies from blocking the vaccine.
The mother’s first milk, called colostrum, protects puppies. Colostrum contains maternal antibodies against diseases.
Your puppy’s immune system doesn't mature until around six months of age. So he depends on this passive immunity against disease.
His maternal antibodies will weaken over time ... but that time varies among dogs and even breeds.
So the decline rate of maternal antibodies for parvo is unpredictable. Some can last as long as 26 weeks. So that's the reason the parvo vaccine often won’t protect your puppy when you give it early...
... And why veterinarians vaccinate puppies on a repeating schedule. They often start at 6 to 8 weeks old, vaccinating every 2 to 4 weeks until 16 weeks. Some vets say the first vaccine primes the immune system and the second one creates immunity …
…But that's not true.
One vaccination, given when the maternal antibodies are low, will protect your puppy. This fact has been common knowledge for more than 30 years.
Let’s look at what one company found when they tested the efficacy and maternal antibodies.
Zoetis Testing For Parvovirus Vaccine Efficacy
The good news is, manufacturers need to show that these vaccines protect puppies. Most can prove protection if they give them at 12 weeks of age.
The bad news is, they do this with high titer/low passage vaccines. High titer/low passage is a fancy way of saying there is a lot more antigen (parvo).
Some even contain up to 65 times more! This also means a vaccinated puppy will shed more virus into the environment.
Zoetis tested the parvovirus response in their combination high titer vaccine. They vaccinated the 3 groups of puppies at different ages:
- 6 weeks
- 9 weeks
- 12 weeks
They then assessed the puppies' immune response by measuring their titers to parvovirus.
- At 6 weeks, only 52% of the puppies had developed an immune response.
- At 9 weeks, 88% of the puppies responded.
- At 12 weeks, 100% of the puppies responded.
Vaccinating puppies at 6 to 8 weeks is a high-risk, low-value practice. At that age, it's highly likely the maternal antibodies will block the vaccine.
So by vaccinating him while he’s young, you’re potentially exposing your puppy to parvo, by being at the clinic. And you're limiting the chance of vaccine success.
It would be safer to socialize your puppy on the street with healthy dogs. Save the trip to the vet until he’s old enough that the vaccine is likely to work.
NOTE: The Virbac Disease Watchdog reported 28% of puppies and 11% of adults were infected by parvo ... after they had been vaccinated for it. There are a variety of reasons for this but the most common is the presence of maternal antibodies.
Strangely, the public access for the Watchdog report is no longer available. However you can always ask your vet to provide you with the adverse events listed for any vet product. They can obtain this by calling the manufacturer's technical service veterinarian.
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) also publishes reports of vaccine adverse events. But their system is complex and hard to access for non-veterinarians.
Other Reasons Puppy Vaccinations Can Fail To Protect
As well as vaccinating at the wrong time, there are a couple of other things you need to watch for.
Previous exposure to the actual virus can play a role in your dog's vaccine response. If your puppy comes into contact with the virus he will develop an immune response. These antibodies can block the vaccine ... much like maternal antibodies.
Vaccinated or not ... don’t expose your puppy to areas where he might catch parvo. These areas include:
A Stressed Immune System
Vaccines also fail when your puppy is sick or stressed at the time of vaccination. When his immune system is compromised, he can’t build an immune response. It also means he’ll be more likely to get the disease he’s being vaccinated for.
Once again, it makes little sense to vaccinate a puppy at 6 to 8 weeks of age when you consider the stress of ...
... In fact, vaccine failure is likely at this age.
Other immune stressors for your puppy include:
NOTE: The Canine Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2) vaccine can suppress the immune system for 10 days. (Phillips et al, Effects of vaccines on the canine immune system. Can J Vet Res 1989). This fact and along with zero cases of Canine Infectious Hepatitis in North America in at least 12 years ... means that the CAV-2 component in vaccines delivers little value at a pretty large cost.
The Type Of Vaccine
Polyvalent vaccines also increase the risk of vaccine failure. These are vaccines that contain more than one disease. And vets use them a lot, often injecting your puppy with 4 or 5 viruses at once.
Modified live vaccines (MLV) replicate in the host over about 10 days. So, while your pup is immune-compromised, the virus can multiply and cause the disease.
Polyvalent vaccines increase this effect. The more antigens in a vaccine, the more viral replication your puppy will experience at once. This makes his immune system more likely to get disease from an antigen. The risk is even greater in small dogs.
"The immune system is a finite resource and can only be stretched so far, so it is safest to avoid giving multiple antigens in one vaccine."
Moore et al
This is likely why there are disease outbreaks in animal shelters. The dogs are stressed, often malnourished, and they get polyvalent vaccines.
Their Immune systems are defenseless … so they get the disease and spread it to others.
Vets and immunologists have stated that MLV shouldn’t create disease in the host.
The problem is, they can’t prove it.
Except for rabies, nobody has checked whether the strain of virus infecting dogs is the vaccine strain.
If they're not tracing the strain of the infectious disease ... how can they claim the disease wasn't caused by a parvo or distemper vaccine?
A human example is the polio vaccination. It’s created several disease outbreaks. The number of children paralyzed by polio doubled from 2008 to 2009. The cause was the mutated oral vaccine.
More troubling was the type 2 strain of polio in the vaccine. It had been eradicated in 1999 by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. But, with vaccine mutations, it's reappeared in vaccinated populations.
Should You Vaccinate Your Puppy For Parvovirus Or Not?
You need to make your own vaccine decision because, in the end, you're the one who has to deal with the consequences.
What's crucial is that you decide based on science and not on a false belief – or fear.
The fact is, you can’t eliminate risk for your puppy. You can only choose which risk you can accept.
Parvo is very much like a deranged serial killer lurking ...
... stalking puppies and claiming random lives.
The best way to avoid serial killers would be to stay inside and never leave the house. That would definitely reduce your risk of being a victim.
But in return, the price you pay is the quality of life. You’d miss out on walks in the park, nice dinners out or visits with family and friends.
The vaccine decision is the same trade-off.
If you vaccinate your puppy for parvo, you're reducing the risk he'll be taken from you by parvo.
But it comes at a price. The price you pay is the risk of chronic disease, which also affects his quality of life. The risks of vaccination include:
Parvo is tragic when it hits … but these diseases can be just as devastating. The number of dogs claimed by cancer alone far, far outweighs those claimed by parvo.
If You Choose To Vaccinate For Parvovirus You Need A Plan
If you’ve decided you want to vaccinate your puppy you need a solid plan.
You want a vaccine approach that avoids multiple boosters. Vaccines are always risky. So don't be afraid to question your vet about these 3 important factors...
#1 One Antigen Only
Finding a single vaccine is becoming harder each year. But it’s important that there are as few antigens in the vaccine as possible.
Reducing antigens will increase the chance that your puppy builds an immune response. It also reduces the risk of a sudden vaccine reaction.
Before your puppy’s appointment, ask your vet to order the CPV vaccine. It's made by Zoetis and only contains parvo.
If you have to buy the whole lot to get your single vaccine, then buy the whole lot. Give your vet permission to use it for other puppies and consider it a donation to a good cause.
#2 The Timing
Choosing the timing of your puppy’s vaccine is key. Let’s look at those Vanguard study results again.
These vaccine studies show how titers have good predictive value. This gives you a guideline to follow when planning. I'll talk more about titers in the next section.
You’ll want to book your puppy’s vaccine appointment at no younger than 12 weeks of age. That will give him the lowest risk of maternal antibodies interfering. Again, that makes it more likely vaccination will protect him.
#3 Run A Titer To Check Immune Response
There is a simple blood test that you can run called a titer test.
A titer measures a small part of the active immune system. It tells you the number of circulating antibodies. If a titer is high, you can assume your puppy's immune system responded successfully to the antigen.
After you’ve vaccinated your puppy at around 12 weeks, run a titer 3 weeks later. Titer testing at this time will confirm if your puppy has built an immune response.
If there's any amount of circulating antibody, no matter how small, then your puppy is protected for life. That means there's no need for further vaccination – ever.
You must wait at least 3 weeks after vaccination before titering. The vaccine can inhibit titer levels until the immune system adjusts. The adjustment period can take 3 to 4 weeks.
Despite what your vet may say, your puppy doesn't need a booster once he’s protected. Immunity to viruses is an all-or-nothing thing.
Just like chickenpox or measles, you’re either immune or you’re not. Some people developed their immunity through exposure and some developed immunity through vaccination.
Either way, once you get either the actual virus or the vaccine, you’re likely protected for life... and so is your puppy.
How To Prevent Parvovirus Naturally
Whether you’ve decided to vaccinate your puppy or not … there are a few things you can do to prevent parvo naturally.
Feed The Best Diet You Can
Poor nutrition lowers your dog’s immunity and increases his risk of getting sick. So you need to feed your puppy the best diet you can.
NOTE: This doesn’t mean the most expensive kibble money can buy. In fact, it means … avoid kibble altogether.
Food is medicine. Instead of filling your puppy with ...
… You need to provide him with fresh raw, whole food diet. Or at the very least, give him a home cooked diet or a freeze dried raw dog food.
Kibble should be a last resort.
Use Nosodes In Place Of Vaccination
Avoiding vaccines will take big stress off your puppy’s young immune system. Using nosodes provides him with some protection without the risks of vaccination.
Nosodes are homeopathic medicines made from diseased tissue.
Nosodes have a long history of providing protection against various diseases. They work especially well when given close to the time of exposure.
After Dr Todd Cooney became a homeopathic vet, he switched from parvo vaccination to nosodes.
The first improvement was no more anaphylactic reactions to vaccines. He no longer saw puppies develop hives or facial swelling. Dr Cooney’s case records also showed some fascinating statistics.
Here’s how nosodes affected parvo survival compared to vaccines:
Over an 18 month period, 275 puppies got wellness packages at the clinic.
- 12 puppies caught parvo
- 10 of the 12 survived (treated only with homeopathic medicines)
35 pups who did not get the wellness package caught parvo…
- 20 survived
- 15 died
And here’s the really interesting part…
- Of the 30 puppies who survived parvo, only 6 (20%) were vaccinated.
- 15 (50%) of the survivor pups had only nosodes.
- Of the 17 puppies who died, 13 were vaccinated (76%).
- Of the puppies who received only nosodes, none died.
Vaccination lowered the puppies’ survival rates, even when they got nosodes too. A small number of pups received vaccines first, then nosodes later:
- 1 (3%) of the 30 survivors
- 5 (29%) out of 17 puppies who died
All pups received only homeopathic medicines for treatment.
Nosodes are safe and easy to dose. And you can give them to your puppy much earlier than vaccines.
I'll share more about treating parvo with homeopathy in the Treating Parvovirus section.
It's important to make sure your puppy doesn’t have a parasite overload. Parasites can strain his immune system and put him at higher risk of getting sick.
Parvo is also much more difficult to treat in puppies with parasites.
However, this doesn't mean you should worm your puppy routinely. Conventional deworming can stress his immune system with toxins.
Even herbal wormers can stress the liver and immune system. So it’s best to treat only if there is a problem.
Instead, you can run fecal exams. If he has parasites, then you can treat him. Gentler treatments can include herbs, diatomaceous earth and certain foods that help eliminate parasites. Only use more potent drugs if your holistic vet feels they’re truly necessary.
Whether or not you vaccinate, be smart about where you take your young puppy.
Every time your puppy leaves the house, he's exposed to small amounts of viruses. This builds his immunity, slowly and naturally.
Don’t expose him to an environment with large amounts of viruses. You'll want to avoid dog parks for this reason. It'll be too much for his young immune system.
Most puppies’ immune systems mature fully at around six months. Ironically, the most dangerous place to take any puppy is the veterinary clinic. Other than a shelter, there's nowhere that might expose your puppy more to parvovirus.
And for the same reason, avoid training classes at the vet clinic. Working with a trainer at home is safest until he has better immunity.
Can Parvovirus Be Treated Naturally?
If your puppy does catch parvo, there are many ways to increase his chances of survival.. Remember that parvovirus is essentially bloody diarrhea. If you can solve the diarrhea, you’ll cure the parvo.
Conventional treatment at your veterinary hospital would include:
Support your puppy at the first signs of illness. This will eliminate the stress of conventional treatments. And it’ll improve his chances of survival.
And avoiding antibiotics reduces the damage these drugs cause to his gut bacteria.
Luckily, many herbal and homeopathic treatments can help manage parvo. But you need to feel confident and have the time to care for him.
So let's review how you can treat parvo naturally at home.
NOTE: The following advice is not intended to replace professional medical advice. It’s essential you care for your puppy under the direction of a holistic or homeopathic veterinarian.
Home Care For Your Parvovirus Puppy
Find a true holistic practitioner before you get your puppy. You don’t want to risk a sick puppy with nobody to help you take care of him the right way.
Stick to your convictions. Find a vet who'll treat your puppy without damaging his immune system.
Many vets who call themselves holistic are quick to dispense antibiotics and Tamiflu. If you can't find a true holistic vet locally, there are many good ones who'll do phone consults. You can find directories at theavh.org and ahvma.org.
If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Be an active partner in your puppy’s health care.
Many vet clinics keep puppies overnight but don’t have staff on hand to monitor them. At home you can give your puppy 24/7 care in his own bed. He'll be happier with his family. And he'll avoid the extra stress of being in a cage at the vet clinic.
So … there are 3 major steps to cover when your puppy has parvo.
#1 Checking his hydration level. If he gets dehydrated, correct it as quickly as you can.
#2 Maintaining a normal blood sugar level with nutritional support.
#3 Managing his diarrhea.
Let’s cover these three key steps in more detail to give your puppy the best chance at fighting parvo.
#1 Checking And Correcting Dehydration In Your Parvovirus Puppy
Parvo itself is not the worst threat. Severe dehydration is much more dangerous.
If your puppy can’t keep his liquids down by mouth … you need to get them into him another way.
First, check for hydration: Pinch the skin at the back of your puppy’s neck. It should bounce back immediately.
If the fold takes 2 seconds or longer to return to normal, your puppy is dehydrated. You need to get fluids into him fast.
There are a few ways you can do this at home.
Subcutaneous (Sub-Q) Fluids
Your vet can give you a sub-Q kit and show you how to use it … or you can buy one online.
Giving sub-Q fluids is quite easy. The hardest part is inserting the needle into the loose skin on your puppy’s neck.
The kit will contain a bag of fluid with a line attached to it, and you should have several needles.
How to give sub-Q fluids:
- Hang the bag up above your puppy so the fluid can flow downwards.
- Use a new needle each time you give fluids.
- Make a little “tent” from the excess skin around your puppy’s shoulder blades.
- Insert the needle into the “tent.”
- Turn on the fluid.
- Let it flow till your puppy has the right amount of fluid (ask your vet how much to give). The average amount to give at one time is usually between 50-200 ml. It depends on your pup's weight and how dehydrated he is.
- Turn off the fluid and remove the needle.
- Hold the skin tight for about 30 seconds where the needle went in.
If you’re feeling unsure about this … here’s a video showing you how to do it.
NOTE: Before giving sub-Q fluids, make sure the bag of fluid is at body temperature. Do this by placing the bag in a warm bowl of water for 10 minutes or so. It's similar to heating up a baby bottle from the fridge. Check the temperature by dropping a few drops from the needle on your wrist. You don't want to burn your pup. Just don't let the clean needle touch anything or you'll need a new sterile one before you poke your puppy.
Sometimes sub-Q methods can be slow. If your puppy is still vomiting or has diarrhea, he can still dehydrate. So keep monitoring his hydration.
This can be the most effective way to give fluids at home.
How much to give: ask your vet how much to give your puppy. As a general guide, a puppy u10 lbs needs about 10 ml of fluid. Puppies weighing more than 40 lbs would need 60 ml.
You can give enemas several ways:
- Infant enema bag
- Bulb syringe
- Standard, clear syringe with catheter tip (not the kind made for needles)
Warm all fluids to body temperature first, using the same method as Warming Sub-Q Fluids.
Give the enema very slowly … over several minutes. If you go too quickly, the fluid will just start to squirt out.
If your puppy doesn’t need the enema, the fluid will just come back out again, no matter how slowly you go.
You can add Pedialyte to his enemas to help him absorb electrolytes. Ask your veterinarian how much to add.
Use sub-Q fluids or enemas until your puppy can hold down fluids himself. Then, give your puppy Pedialyte. Pedialyte in his water will rehydrate him and replace the minerals and electrolytes he's lost.
Keep a close eye on him and follow the following steps for success:
- Give water at least every hour. Give small amounts (just drops) often and watch your puppy; if you give too much, he may vomit it back up.
- Make sure your water is not chlorinated. Use filtered water or bottled spring water (not demineralized or alkaline bottled water).
- Once he's stopped vomiting, offer room temperature sips of water every half hour but only if he keeps it down.
- Increase the amount you offer until he is out of the woods with NO more vomiting.
- Only then can you allow him free access to a water bowl.
- You can also offer him some Pedialyte to help restore any lost electrolytes. You can give 1 to 4 ml of Pedialyte solution per lb of body weight per hour . But the amount will depend on how big your puppy is and how he's doing. So ask your holistic vet for the best dose for your puppy.
- Try the ginger tea recipe below if you think he's still queasy. Ginger can relieve nausea and vomiting. It can also support the immune system.
Ginger Tea Recipe For Nausea
- Add 4 tsp of dried herb or a few thin slices of fresh ginger to a quart of boiling water
- Simmer for 10-20 minutes
- Strain the liquid and let it cool
- Give the ginger tea along with a small amount of Pedialyte.
#2 Keeping Nutrition And Sugar Levels Stable In Your Parvovirus Puppy
Monitor your puppy for low blood sugar. The simplest way is to check the color of his gums. Normal gums should be a nice pink color. Some dogs have brown or black gums, but there should still be some color.
White or pale gums mean his sugar level is low.
If you see pale gums, here are some ways to help.
Blood Sugar And Nutritional Support For Your Parvovirus Puppy
Rubbing molasses on his gums every hour will boost his blood sugar.
You should notice an improvement in his gum color and energy level.
If you don’t, then start giving him beef liver puree (recipe below) by mouth.
Feeding A Beef Liver Pure
You can give this recipe two ways:
1. By mouth if he can keep food down
2. As an enema if he can’t keep food down
You can give this beef liver recipe every 3 hours. But don’t give more beef liver than recommended (see the chart below) or it may cause more diarrhea.
- 2 slices of beef liver
- Oat water or electrolyte fluid
- 1/4 ripe banana
Boil the beef liver until thoroughly cooked. Begin blending and add enough oat water or electrolyte fluid until the beef liver is thin. You want it to be thin enough to suck up into a syringe. Add the banana and then add more oat water or electrolyte fluid if needed.
Under 3 lbs..............1/8 tsp
2-3 lbs.....................1/4 tsp
4-10 lbs...................1/2 tsp
11-20 lbs....................1 tsp
21-30 lbs....................2 tsp
31-40 lbs....................1 Tbsp
41-50 lbs....................2 Tbsp
Add an additional 1 Tbsp for every 10 lbs of body weight over 50 lbs
Oat Water Electrolyte Recipe
Oat water is a homemade electrolyte fluid for dogs.
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1 cup of oats (not instant oatmeal; Quaker Old Fashioned Oats are OK, or buy organic oats at your health store)
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1 tsp sea salt
How to make the oat water:
Bring the water to a boil then add oats, salt, and molasses. Simmer for 5 minutes then let sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes strain off the oats and use the remaining oat water for the Beef Liver Puree or as a replacement for Pedialyte.
Added Nutritional Help For Severe Vomiting
You can add MSM (Methylsuylfonylmethane) to your puppy's fluids for extra anti-nausea support.
MSM is often sold as a joint supplement. But it can help stop your puppy vomiting.
Most MSM comes in a pill or capsule. You may need to split the pill into the amount your dog needs. Use the dosing chart below.
Example: If you buy a 1000mg capsule or pill and your dog only needs 250mg, divide the MSM into 4 pieces.
Under 3 lbs
3 - 10 lbs
11 - 20 lbs
20 - 50 lbs
51 lbs +
Crush the divided portion. Then mix it with the recommended amount of electrolyte fluid orally. You can then give it every 12 hours or as needed.
But if he's really nauseous and still vomiting give the MSM as an enema fluid dose.
#3 Managing The Diarrhea In Your Parvovirus Puppy
Controlling his diarrhea is essential to overcome your puppy’s parvo. Diarrhea is how a dog sheds the parvovirus. Even after your puppy's diarrhea has stopped, he can shed the virus up to 4 weeks.
So it’s best to confine your puppy to your house and yard for 4 weeks. That way you’ll avoid spreading parvo to other dogs in the neighborhood.
Here are the top ways to control your puppy’s diarrhea and help him beat parvo naturally.
Commercially Available Natural Products For Parvovirus Management
The company Amber Naturalz has two highly effective herbal products. The company also provides guidelines for treating parvo at home. These two products are Paxxin (formerly Parvaid) and Vibactra Plus.
Many specialty pet retailers carry these products or you can order them online.
Follow the directions on the packaging. You can also contact Amber Naturalz if you have any questions. They're happy to help and offer great support and guidance.
Use Amber Naturalz parvo support plan until your puppy feels better. Once he’s been eating without vomiting for 3-4 days, you can stop giving them. You can then move on to additional home support.
The parvo nosode can also be very helpful alongside these herbal remedies.
Nosodes are effective, inexpensive and easy to give. Puppies treated with nosodes have a high survival rate. It’s often better than puppies treated with traditional methods like Tamiflu.
Nosodes are mostly preventive. But they also work powerfully in treatment, alongside the homeopathic remedies below. You can buy nosodes through a homeopathic veterinarian.
Gloria Dodd DVM reported great results with the parvo nosode in her practice.
“In the very first days of Parvovirus infection in dogs,” Dodds stated, “I was faced with an overwhelming epidemic of Parvo-stricken dogs in my clinical practice. I made a 30C nosode from the infected animals’ blood in the form of sterile saline solution, and then injected the nosode intravenously into the sick animals. I never lost one animal of the hundreds that came to me in the early epidemiology. These were dogs with other pathologies: Congestive Heart problems, Chronic Interstitial Nephritis, and very old and very young dogs with compromised immune systems.”
Most puppies with parvo will have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They almost always have discharges with a distinct smell. These symptoms are a good match for the parvo nosode.
There are more homeopathic remedies and symptoms described below.You may find a better fit for your puppy’s specific symptoms.
Treating Parvovirus With Homeopathic Remedies
You can treat parvo at home but it's a serious disease. So even if you use this protocol, always care for your puppy with the help of a homeopathic veterinarian.
Again, it's wise to find a homeopathic vet before you get your puppy, Don’t wait till he’s already sick and it's an emergency! You can find a homeopathic vet at theavh.org.
Homeopathic Protocol For Parvo
The homeopathic parvo protocol below is from homeopath Julie Anne Lee DCH RCSHom. You can use these remedies alongside Paxxin and Vibactra Plus.
Stage One: At First Onset of Disease
1. Aconite 1M: As soon as you first suspect parvo, give Aconite 1M every half hour, for three doses.
2. Parvo nosode 30C: One hour after finishing the Aconite, give one single dose of the Parvo nosode 30C.
NOTE: buy the Parvo nosode through your homeopathic vet.
3. Then watch to see how your puppy's symptoms improve or decline.
4. When he's stopped vomiting, has less diarrhea and more energy, move on to Post Acute Support.
5. Otherwise, continue with Stage Two.
Stage Two: After the Parvo Nosode
1. If your puppy starts to get better but then the symptoms worsen again ... repeat the Parvo nosode, but this time in a 200C potency.
Important: try to repeat the dose as soon as there’s the slightest HINT of your puppy declining. If you wait too long it’ll be harder to get him back on track.
2. Watch for decreased energy, more drooling or even if he’s just looking more nauseous. Don’t wait until your pup has vomiting or diarrhea again. Repeat the nosode as soon as you see any decline.
3. If you don’t see continued improvement, move to Stage Three.
Stage Three: Matching the Remedy to the Puppy
If your puppy needs more support, read through the remedies below. Choose the one that best fits your puppy’s symptoms. Once you find the best match, give one single dose of that remedy in a 200C potency.
You should expect to see improvement within 15 to 20 minutes of giving this remedy. An improvement is any improvement in any symptoms.
Examples of improvement are:
The signs can be very subtle, so put your maternal or paternal instincts on high alert! Try to get a sense of whether he’s feeling better.
If you try a remedy and there is no change within 20 minutes, move to the next best-fitting remedy.
When To Repeat The Remedy
Dose your puppy with your selected remedy every 45 minutes, up to 3 or 4 times Monitor his progress closely. If he gets worse in between any doses, stop and change to a different remedy.
It’s better to give one dose too many than not enough. You've got a short window with one chance to stimulate your puppy’s vital force. If you don’t give enough support it can be so hard to get him back a second time. So if you feel he needs another dose before 45 minutes, give it to him.
Additional Remedies For Your Puppy
Here the remedies and symptom matches to use as a general guide for supporting your puppy. Choose the remedy that best fits your puppy.
After dosing, watch your puppy for changes.
If you suspect your puppy may have parvo, don’t wait! Give him Aconite in a 30C potency immediately, even if it’s on the way to the vet’s office. Aconite is for intense physical symptoms that occur suddenly. It's also great for puppies with associated fever and stress.
This remedy is very effective for vomiting, especially if the vomit contains blood. Use a 30C potency. Here are the symptoms to look for:
- The keynote for this remedy is frank red blood. Almost all parvo vomit and diarrhea has blood in it. However, the Phosphorus puppy has streaks of bright red blood or a lot of blood. Even his drool can be streaked with blood.
- He may be the puppy who's seeking the most water (especially if it's cold), but cannot hold it down. He can be soothed by stroking.
- Before becoming ill this puppy was usually the most social … easily excitable, engaging. He often craves attention but can be afraid of thunder, fireworks and loud noises.
Arsenicum album 30C
This is the main remedy for controlling the acute diarrhea.
- This puppy will appear either very restless or very weak … but he will be better when cuddled or held. He may also look fearful. Watch his eyes: sometimes a puppy may be so weak he can't move around, even though he’s restless. He may be lying there with his eyes open and a fearful look, or he may be weak but can’t sleep.
- He seems to feel better during the day but always gets worse in the evening ... especially around midnight.
- This puppy seeks warmth and is thirsty. He will be the one who’s doing well on another remedy and gives you hope. But when you check him at 1 am he’s again declined. His vomit and diarrhea can have a worse smell than when on the other remedies. It may look black in color.
- Before he became ill, his personality could have been the anxious pup. Often one who may have a short fuse with the rest of the puppies. He might be the one always finding the sunny place to sleep … or be the closest to his mother. He'll also be one who could easily vomit with a change in food.
Carbo Vegetabilis 30C
This remedy is known as the "corpse reviver."
- The puppy will be cold; his gums may even be blue. He will have no energy and will lie there completely flat. His tummy can appear bloated and he may be passing gas, burping or have the hiccups.
- Even though he's cold, if he has enough energy he'll move to a place where he can get open air. He may only sleep in a sitting position, leaning up against the kennel wall or his mother.
- When you pick up this puppy he will seem heavy as if he has no vitality; you'll feel his weakness just by holding him. Often you will see diarrhea oozing, rather than being expelled then stopping.
This remedy is the one with the most severe nausea.
- This puppy can vomit just by being moved or woken up! It can look like the Arsenicum symptoms, but the nausea isn't relieved even by vomiting.
- If he’s salivating or drooling, it can be thicker or stringy … while Arsenicum drool will be more watery.
China (Cinchona officinalis) 30C
You can use this remedy in a 30C potency alongside the above remedies to prevent dehydration. It can also restore strength after loss of fluids. China can be given in the acute stage or after the initial vomiting and diarrhea are controlled. Here are the symptoms to look for:
- This puppy can resemble Carbo Veg with the weakness but is not as cold or blue. He is profoundly weak and noticeably crampy.
- He can be the puppy who improved after dosing with other remedies, yet still seems weak. This can be from dehydration and blood loss.
- In this case China is a perfect remedy to continue his recovery. Before he became ill he could have been the puppy who easily got loose stool or bloating and had a tendency to be gassy.
How To Give Homeopathic Treatments At Home
Homeopathic remedies usually come in little pellets or granules. The best way to give them is by making a liquid dose.
Steps to follow for dosing:
You can buy homeopathic remedies locally at a good health food store or apothecary. If you don't have one nearby you can order online from Amazon or other suppliers (see the Shopping List for more details).
Additional Home Remedies For Your Parvo Puppy
In addition to Paxxin and Vibactra Plus, there are several other herbs you can use. These also have antiviral or antibacterial properties. Your holistic vet may recommend some of the herbs below.
If you choose to use herbs, ask for guidance from a good herbalist or holistic vet. Herbs must be dosed correctly and safely. We're including dosing ranges below but they're just for general guidance.
Yes, garlic. There's a lot of misunderstanding about garlic. Many people believe it's harmful to dogs.
But it’s actually good for your dog. And it's one of the best foods for immune health.
Garlic contains antioxidants like vitamin A and minerals like sulfur and zinc. It also provides a wide range of B vitamins to support gut health.
Garlic also has powerful antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer abilities.
How To Feed Your Dog Garlic:
- Use fresh, organic garlic.
- Peel the cloves then mince, chop or crush the garlic. Let it sit 10 to 15 minutes. This releases garlic's main medicinal property, allicin.
- Allicin degrades quickly, so use the garlic immediately after the sitting period.
- Mix it into your dog's food.
How Much Garlic To Give:
Give the amount below, according to your dog’s weight:
5lbs: 1/6 tsp
10lbs: 1/3 tsp
15 lbs: 1/2 tsp
20lbs: 2/3 tsp
30 lbs: 1 tsp
Astragalus root is warming and helps with stress. It also supports the immune system by flushing the kidneys.
For your parvo puppy, astragalus can help increase his appetite. It’s well indicated in young and older dogs. It has an affinity for dogs with generalized weakness.
How much to give your puppy:
Dry Herb Dosage: 50 mg for every 10 lbs of bodyweight given 2x daily with food
Tincture Dosage: 0.5 ml for every 20 lbs given 2x daily just before food
Echinacea is a useful immune stimulant.
Its immune-boosting abilities come from the components echinacoside and echinacein.dog
They support his immune system by:
- Providing natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties
- Offering anti-viral support
As an additional benefit, echinacea can also help prevent the growth of cancer cells by extending the life of healthy cells.
How Much To Give: For most dogs, give 12 to 25 drops of echinacea tincture three times a day. Low alcohol glycerin extracts are best. Give 5 days on, 2 to 3 days off for best effect.
Mullein is a natural expectorant, inflammation and pain reducer. It also has great antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
The leaves, flowers and roots can be used to relieve digestive inflammation.
How to give mullein:
You can make a strong mullein leaf tea:
- Let the tea cool and then give 0.3 ml per pound of body weight twice daily
Or you can give a mullein glycerin tincture:
- Give 0.05 to 0.1 ml per pound orally twice daily, according to Herbs for Pets.
Licorice is a legume and a member of the pea family that originally hailed from Europe.
It’s a versatile herb that’s been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of issues.
Glycyrrhizin, the glycoside found in liquorice, has a chemical structure similar to naturally occurring corticosteroids. This makes licorice an excellent anti-inflammatory for the digestive tract.
And dogs like its taste, which will make it easier for you to feed your puppy.
When used internally, it’s often best to use a tincture instead of dried herbs.The dosage depends somewhat on the dog and the application, but a general rule of thumb is:
- Tincture – 12 to 20 drops per 20 pounds of body weight, twice daily (this is a good starting point)
- Tea – 30 to 60 drops per 20 pounds of body weight, twice daily (steep 1 teaspoon licorice root in 1 cup water)
You can learn how to make your own licorice tincture here.
Caution With Using Antibiotics
As we said before, even some holistic vets may reach for antibiotics. In some cases you may want to use them. Here’s why.
Parvovirus often causes a marked loss of white blood cells. This leaves your puppy open to a secondary infection.
It's important to to prevent this. Your vet may prescribe a conventional antibiotic ... or together you can find safe and effective natural choices.
Any kind of antibiotic (natural or pharmaceutical), can harm your puppy’s gut health.
If you choose any kind of antibiotic, you must follow it up with probiotics and prebiotics. Pre- and probiotics will restore the balance of intestinal flora in your puppy’s gut.
It's important because 80% of his immune system lives in his gut. Keeping a heathy balance will keep him protected from other illnesses.
Additional Home Support When Your Puppy Starts To Improve
(Recommended by Julie Anne Lee DCH RCSHom)
These remedies will also support your puppy’s recovery. Use them once he’s stopped vomiting or having bloody diarrhea.
Bio-12 Homeopathic Tissue Salts
Tissue salts are also called cell salts. They're gentle homeopathic remedies that provide the minerals the cells need. There are 12 tissue or cell salts.
Bio-12 or Bioplasma, is a combination of all 12 tissue salts in one. This remedy helps ensure proper rehydration and cell development.
Give 2 tablets 3 three times a day for one week, then once per day for one month. You can buy tissue salts at natural health stores or at Amazon or other online sellers (see the Shopping List for more detail).
Supplements To Support Recovery
Once he's been eating and drinking well for 48 hours, and not vomiting, you can start these supplements. It’s OK to buy products made for humans.
Start one new supplement at a time so that his body can adjust. Then wait 24 hours before starting each new supplement.
It’s easiest to use in powder form and usually sold in capsules. You can just open the capsule and empty out the powder.
Dosing for N-Acetyl Glucosamine:
Dose according to size (as recommended below) for 10 days, then go to half the amount for 3 months.
Mix the powder with food or stir into yogurt and syringe into the mouth. You don't want to shove a capsule down a dog’s throat at any time, let alone when he's ill.
Up to 5 lbs: 25 mg twice per day
6 to 15 lbs: 50 mg twice per day
16- 30 lbs: 100 mg twice per day
31-60 lbs: 250 mg twice per day
Over 60 lbs: 500 mg twice per day
You can buy N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (sold for humans) at any good health food store or even on Amazon. For more buying information see the Shopping List
Day 2. Slippery Elm
Start giving slippery elm once per day in food, using the size guidelines below. Give it for two to four weeks. Once his stools are completely normal, give it twice a week for another week.
Slippery Elm dosing:
Toy breeds: ⅛ tsp
Small breeds: ¼ tsp
Medium breeds: ½ tsp
Large breeds: ¾ tsp
Again, if your puppy doesn’t like the taste, you can mix it with yogurt or organic goat’s milk and syringe it into his mouth. If it stresses him, don’t use it.
Buy slippery elm (sold for humans) at health food stores or on Amazon.
Day 3. Prebiotics and Probiotics
Start giving prebiotics and probiotics , following the package recommended dosage.
If you’re using a product made for humans, assume the dose is for a 150 lb human and adjust the amount for your dog’s weight.
Day 4. Co-Enzyme Q10
Start giving 5 mg per 5 lbs of body weight daily for three to six months. This helps support the heart, which can be compromised by parvovirus.
You can buy a product made for humans at a good health store or on Amazon.
Day 11. Thiosinaminum 12C
One week after starting the Co-enzyme Q10, add this homeopathic remedy.
This remedy can reduce and prevent scarring.of the GI tract in post-parvo puppies.
Dosing for Thiosinaminum 12C:
- Add 2 pellets to half a cup of distilled water
- Give 1 ml once per day for two weeks.
- Keep it in an airtight glass container in the fridge and stir the mixture 10 times before each dose.
When And How To Reintroduce Regular Foods To Your Puppy
Once your puppy can hold down water, you can offer him food. Increase gradually, starting with just a little taste until he can keep it down.
His digestive system will still be very susceptible to bacteria. Keep this in mind if he’s normally on a fresh raw diet. Don't feed raw for at least 2 weeks after he starts eating again.
You want to resolve all his parvo symptoms first. Starting with a nice bland healing soup with help his stomach transition.
Directions for feeding the soup:
Give small portions (a few teaspoons for very small dogs, and up to ½ to 1 cup for larger dogs).
Giving small meals will reduce the burden on his digestive system.
Allow 4 to 6 hours to pass between meals. Monitor him for any diarrhea or vomiting after meals.
Once he can tolerate small meals, you can add more whole food. Start with a live whole food, complete with vitamin and mineral support. The best way to do this is to give a good phytoplankton supplement.
Phytoplankton is absorbed through the gums. This means that it doesn’t have to go through the GI tract … so it can take effect right away.
What To Do If Your Puppy Has A Diarrhea Relapse
Sometimes your puppy may improve for a while, then relapse. Pulling a dog out of relapse can be very difficult. You must monitor his hydration and sugar levels.
At the first sign of a relapse start the Paxxin back up every hour. (The first signs you'll see will be vomiting or lethargy.)
Continue giving the Paxxin every hour. Do this until your puppy can eat on his own and hold food down for 6 hours or more.
Then you can reduce the dosing to 4 times per day.
If your dog continues to get worse, try giving the MSM every 12 hours.
Bonus: Be Prepared Shopping List
Unfortunately, once your puppy is feeling well you're not yet out of the parvo woods. The parvovirus can stay in the environment for as long as 6 to 12 months. This means you'll need to be extra clean.
Clean and sanitize his:
By thoroughly cleaning you'll protect other puppies in your home. If you can, keep the healthy puppies away from these areas until then. You should also limit visitors to your house to keep their dogs safe too.
If you choose to treat your puppy for parvo at home, you must be 100 percent committed. You'll need to give his remedies and treatments hourly around the clock for as long as it takes.
Keeping notes will help you to keep track of what remedies you have given your puppy and to track his progress.
If you're ready for treating parvo naturally, stick to your convictions! It will reveal to you how powerful the body is …and that all we need to do is to help it heal itself.