Canine Parvo Virus (CPV) is a difficult virus to treat.
To quote Dr. Cynthia Ramsey:
"There is no drug we can give to the dog that kills parvovirus once the animal is infected. The animal's own immunity has to rid itself of the virus. Supportive care is very important in the treatment of parvoviral infections."
Symptoms of parvo include severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Unfortunately, it is often fatal in young puppies. Older dogs with stronger immune systems are more likely to survive. There is no cure for the illness, which is why it's so important to vaccinate your dog. Puppies should receive their first vaccinations at age 6 - 8 weeks, and dogs should receive a yearly booster shot.
If your dog becomes ill with parvo, he will require several days of hospitalization. The average seems to be about five days. Treatment will be geared towards supportive therapy and can take several days to several weeks.
- Treat Dehydration: The first concern, due to the severe vomiting and diarrhea, is dehydration. If your dog is not able to keep fluids down, he will be given fluids by IV or subcutaneously. Many vets prefer to give fluids by IV so that they can also give a balanced electrolyte solution. Medication may also be given to stop the vomiting and diarrhea. A medication might be prescribed to prevent vomiting.
- Prevent Infection: Antibiotics will be given to prevent a secondary bacterial infection from setting in. Many veterinarians recommend giving antibiotics by injection or IV rather than giving them orally, since the digestive tract is compromised. Commonly-used antibiotics include Cefazolin, Baytril, Ampicillin, Gentamycin, Trimethoprin-Aulfa, and Chloramphenicol. After the gastrointestinal symptoms subside, a broad-spectrum de-worming agent is often used, as well.
Parvo treatment does not end when your dog comes home from the hospital. He will probably still be on medication when he comes home. He may also be on a special bland diet.
- Clean: Parvo is very contagious and can survive on objects such as clothing, food dishes, and cage floors for six months or more. Throw away any dog bowls. Clean or throw away any bedding. You will need to disinfect your dogs environment so that he does not become reinfected. Use half a cup of bleach to a gallon of water and clean his dishes, toys, cage, and other items that he uses regularly. Wash soft items in hot water and bleach.
- Remove Feces: Parvo is shed in the feces of infected dogs. Remove any dog feces from your yard and spray the yard with your hose.
- Isolate: Your recovering dog will still be contagious for about two months, so he should be kept away from other dogs. That means you should also not leave his feces where other dogs might sniff them. Ask your vet when he can safely be around other dogs.
- Nutrition: Recent studies show that if your dog is not vomiting, it is better to continue feeding your dog vs. the historical method of keeping food from your dog for the first 12 hours. Some veterinarians will provide an intravenous feeding tube (feeing through a vein).
- Support your dog's health: Many owners like to use natural medicine to add additional support and promote balance in their dog's digestive system during the recovery period. PetAlive makes a supplement made specifically for dogs recovering from parvo that is worth researching is called Parvo-K. Discuss this option with your veterinarian for advice and to track progress.
Sources for Parvo Treatment
Parvo: The Physical Illness and Its Treatment
Brooks, Wendy C. DVM
Canine and Feline Parvovirus Infection - Current Treatment Options
Ludwig Maximilians University
Institute for Med Mikrobiologie