If your puppy or dog is suffering from the Canine Parvovirus Infection, or ‘Parvo’, then you are going to need to act fast.
This highly contagious infection can be fatal, so it is important that you proactively take measures to eliminate it once it is diagnosed.
Taking your puppy/dog to the vet is paramount, and this should form the basis of any treatment.
That being said, during and following, you should look to introduce a number of effective home remedies for Parvo.
This will help to support your puppy/dog and help them to overcome the virus, reduce symptoms and improve their well-being.
So, what are the best home remedies for parvo? The best home remedies for dogs and puppies with parvo include ensuring adequate hydration, providing nutritional support through diet, optimizing their environment, and providing controlled use of specific supplements. However, it is vital that your puppy/dog receives specialized treatment from a vet and this should be the first port of call.
In truth, home remedies should only be used in conjunction with their recommended treatment options.
Let us now take a closer look at this virus, and some of the considerations you need to take into account before providing you with a list of effective home remedies that will help your puppy/dog overcome this deadly pathogen.
What Is Parvo?
Parvo, or Canine Parvovirus Infection (CPV), is a highly contagious viral disease that can be caught exclusively by all within the canid family (including wolves and bears).
For dogs, it’s a virus that can affect all breeds, regardless of their size, weight and age.
It is, however, most common in puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated.
Besides this, it has been reported that Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and English Springer Spaniels are particularly prone to contracting the virus.
It is important to first consider that there are two forms of Parvo.
- The intestinal form (most common), whereby vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite are the general symptoms
- The cardiac form (least common) causes damage to the heart muscles. It primarily affects young puppies and can result in death.
The Parvovirus requires time to overcome.
In fact, it leaves a dog with a weakened immune system long after the virus has been eliminated and therefore leaves them susceptible to other viruses/illnesses.
Moreover, your dog will also pose a risk to other dogs for up to two months following their initial diagnoses and recovery.
For this reason, if your dog has been diagnosed, you will need to be careful to isolate them and prevent them from coming into contact with other dogs.
When a dog is able to successfully overcome the illness, it should have built an immunity against it if they are to come into contact with it again.
That being said, it may still be possible that they contract the virus again.
Causes of Parvo
Parvo is contracted by a puppy/dog after being exposed and coming into contact with the virus. Here are the most common ways that this happens.
- Direct contact with an infected dog,
- Indirectly, through sniffing an infected dog’s stool, the virus being brought into the home via a shoe, etc.
Puppies are most at risk of the virus, due in part to their weaker immune systems and the fact that they are generally not vaccinated at this stage of their life.
This is why you need to be particularly careful when letting your puppy out in the backyard for the first time, or further afield.
However, any elder dog yet to be vaccinated, can contract Parvo too.
As a virus, Parvo is microscopic and impossible to observe. It enterss a dog’s system through the nose or mouth and within 3-7 days will start to become active and your dog will begin to exhibit negative symptoms.
It is during this stage that the virus will start to collect in your dog’s own stool. This is therefore how one dog can infect another through this avenue.
It has been noted that Parvo will be present within the stool for up to 2 weeks following recovery as it is cleared from the system of the dog.
Parvo is also a resilient virus, routinely mutating. The majority of cleaning products are not able to effectively eliminate it.
So it is important to dispose of any item or object that could potentially carry it.
From there, you need to use a concentrated household bleach solution (like this one on Amazon) which is one of the few products reported to kill the virus.
It remains active and present within an environment for a long time, so your dog is always susceptible to it if they go where it has been.
It is known that Parvo can live dormant for up to 8 months in outdoor environments, and seems to last even longer in cold and freezing environments.
Therefore, it’s important to note that your dog can pick up the virus during a routine walk, or the virus could be brought into their home via a shoe that has stepped in an infected stool.
Another important consideration is that kennels and dog shelters, that house a lot of dogs and young puppies, can be particularly dangerous.
This is partly why your vet will recommend that you re-vaccinate a puppy if you adopt one, even if the records state they have been vaccinated before.
Prevention is always better than cure so there are things you can do to help prevent your puppy/dog from ever contracting the virus.
The first is to get your puppy/dog vaccinated according to specialist advice. For puppies, vaccination is usually recommended between 6-12 weeks.
If you have a breed of dog that is considered a higher risk, then this vaccination period is recommended to be longer at 22 weeks.
Always consider where you take your dog. Be careful of other dogs that you let yours interact with.
It is a good rule of thumb to limit socializing before vaccination and give it several weeks since their final interactions to socialize more freely.
Symptoms of Parvo
Parvovirus is so dangerous because it is able to take hold and attacks cells within the bone marrow and intestines.
Once infected, white blood cells are known to reduce, which leaves a puppy/dog vulnerable to others infections, diseases, and illnesses as their immune system starts to slow and shut down.
Here are some of the main symptoms commonly observed with dogs with the Parvo virus:
If you are concerned that your dog has Parvo, you may see the following symptoms:
- Blood in stool,
- General Weakness and Lethargy
- Drastic weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- High Fever or Hypothermia
- Rapid heartbeat
One of the most outwardly observable symptoms of the Parvo virus is a unique and increased odor to the smell of your dog’s feces.
Symptoms will also differ between dogs; some puppies and dogs will outwardly show signs and suffer tremendously whereas other dogs may not appear to have a problem. It is even common for some dogs to infect others due to the fact that they display no signs of illness.
Unfortunately, a lot of dogs fail to overcome Parvo. Therefore, early detection and specialist care are crucial.
If you suspect any of the above or are yet to talk to a vet, this should be your first port of call.
From there, and due to its ongoing effects, home remedies go a long way to restoring your puppies/dogs’ strength and ensuring they overcome any other potential illness.
Parvo is a worrying thought, yet with an awareness of it, routine visits to the vet, and the appropriate vaccinations, there is no reason to believe your dog will contract it.
How Parvo Is Diagnosed
If your puppy or dog is showing symptoms of Parvo, or is not particularly well following contact with another dog, you should take them to a vet swiftly. Parvo can be fatal, especially to puppies.
Thankfully, the survival rate of dogs treated by a veterinarian is high at 68-92%. For the most part, if a puppy can survive the first 2-3 days, it will likely make a full recovery.
How long they ultimately take to fully recover will depend on the strain and other factors, but generally, it is around 1-2 weeks.
Your vet will diagnose parvo based on clinical signs and through blood work. examine and run some tests. This typically includes blood, urine, x-rays, and sometimes ultrasounds.
Sometimes a test known as an ELISA may be used to identify virus antigens in your dog’s feces. Some other diagnostic testing may be required.
Your vet will be looking for low white blood cell levels and elevated liver enzymes, lymphopenia, and electrolyte imbalances.
The x-ray may show intestinal obstruction, while ultrasound may show enlarged lymph nodes or a fluid-filled intestine.
Treatment For Parvo
There is no outright and direct cure for parvo. As such, your vet will look to provide supportive care over the course of the illness, treating the symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, and boosting their strength with optimal nutrition.
Your vet may recommend that your dog stays in their care for a couple of days to ensure optimal recovery.
Your dog will likely experience a lack of appetite, malnutrition, and dehydration.
For this reason, it’s pivotal that nutrients and fluids are provided consistently during this time. Medications to limit vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes provided with your consent.
The danger of viruses like parvo is that they weaken the immune system through a lowered white blood cell count.
This means they are susceptible to other bacterial infections. Therefore, your vet may look to introduce an antibiotic medication to fight bacterial infection and will keep an eye on your dog for any other issues that may arise.
Your vet will explain to you the best treatment for your puppy/dog and will advise on what you should and should not do when you return them home.
Ultimately, you are going to want to ensure that your dog is as comfortable and well supported as possible.
The home remedies below are often recommended by vets to improve well-being, speed of recovery and generally ease symptoms.
Home Remedies for Parvo in Puppies and Dogs
The best home remedies for dogs and puppies with parvo include ensuring adequate hydration, providing nutritional support through diet, optimizing their environment, and providing controlled use of specific supplements.
With parvo, your puppy/dog will become severely dehydrated during the illness. You will need to ensure that they are consuming adequate water, fluids, and electrolytes.
If your dog refuses to drink, then you may need to be creative with how you provide lost fluids. Using dog-friendly water battles and water fountains make the whole process easier.
They also enable your dog to get the hydration it needs even if they are feeling weak and lethargic.
Providing Nutritional Support
Your dog will also lose their appetite during this time, yet food and nutrients are vital to giving them the strength they need to overcome.
Therefore, you need to provide high energy whilst simultaneously providing easy-to-digest foods that will be gentle on their delicate and irritated stomachs.
Providing quick energy like giving them a small number of honey works wonders to start with.
From there you can look to move on to more solid foods. Boiled white rice is a good place to start, but be sure that it is white rice and brown rice is harder to digest.
Providing raw egg yolks is also a recommended food to give to your dog during this time. Its high in protein and studies have confirmed it contains immunoglobulins present that combat the virus. Give your dog 1-2 raw egg yolks per day, mixed in with the white rice.
Other highly nutritious and nutrient-dense foods include beef and lamb liver. You can cook this gently or even provide it to them raw.
You’ll also want to consider getting them a natural, grain-free feed, that is abundant in vitamins and minerals.
Sundays for Dogs is my go-to food and recommendation of choice.
You can go through an intuitive questionnaire that literally designs custom food for your dog – ensuring it is most suitable for their needs.
The perk of this brand is that it is very digestible and has fish oil that will support your dog following bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
Optimizing The Environment
When your dog is not well, you’re going to want to ensure they have a clean, comfortable environment to rest and regain their strength.
One of the first things you will want to do is wash all of the objects your dog uses e.g. bowls, crates, toys, etc.
You need to completely eradicate the parvovirus and any strains which may be present or have been transferred to these items.
Parvo is resistant to the majority of cleaning products. Yet, specifically concentrated bleach is known to effectively kill the virus. The Hess & Clark Disinfectant is one such known brand.
You’ll want to use this liberally, but you will of course want to clean the bleach away following use.
It’s also a good idea to place any blankets, towels, or bedding into the washing machine at high temperatures, and then place them in the dryer at the hottest setting.
Clean up all dog mess in the garden regularly and be very careful as to how you dispose of it and where you store it.
You are effectively looking to eliminate the spread and proliferation of the virus once more.
During recovery, keep your dog isolated and away from other dogs and people. You will want to refrain from taking them to communal areas, like the park.
This will eliminate any chances of encounters with any dog.
From there, do your utmost to make their environment comfortable. Give them plenty of blankets and cushions for them to rest on. They’ll likely be tired and in need of a lot of sleep.
You may want to consider upgrading their bedding and getting them an extra soft option like this water-resistant dog bed
Either way, make sure you provide an environment that is relaxing for them to obtain the rest they need to recover.
Reducing loud noises, and keeping them warm, and cared for will go a long way to getting them back to their best swiftly.
There are a number of specific supplements that are known to be effective at supporting your dog and helping restore its weakened immune system. Here are the main ones:
- Vitamin C – is a strong anti-oxidant and plays a large role in supporting the immune system. You can get vitamin c fruit drops that you can give to your dog 1-2 times per day.
- Activated Charcoal – is known to help remove toxins and relieve digestive issues. It is considered safe for dogs too. Just ensure you are using a safe brand, with fine powder, and that you start with very small doses. This is a supplement you should talk to your vet ahead of using.
- Echinacea – is an excellent anti-inflammatory that will help soothe an irritated stomach. Start with a small dose and add this to your dog’s food. Again, talk to your vet ahead of supplementation and dosing.
- Omega 3s – Omega 3 Fish oils play a large role in inflammation and can help to support the health of your dog. You can look to add 1 capsule per day for up to 2 weeks following veterinary treatment. Just make sure you get an oil that is responsibly sourced.
- Probiotics – are an excellent way to restore your dog’s health and bowels, especially following a period of diarrhea, inflammation, and digestive upset. Probiotics will help to soothe the intestinal tract and restore bacteria back to their healthy range. The Zesty Paws brand contains natural digestive enzymes and is provided in tasty bites to make sure your dog consumes them.
Ongoing Management and Prevention Of Parvo
As we have mentioned already, parvo can return to your or puppy or dog. Therefore, its important to consider some ways that you can help to prevent them from contracting it once more:
- Routinely visit your Vet and get frequent health checkups.
- Ensure your dog has the required vaccinations as advised and as frequently as the vets recommend.
- Clean up poop swiftly and keep a clean environment.
- Be careful where you take your dog and be sure to keep them away from strays, and other dogs that may not have had their vaccinations
- Feed your dog a nutrient-dense diet.
- Regularly clean items, like bedding and toys.
- Monitor your dog and with any signs of illness, get them to a vet.
Parvo is a dangerous virus that can be contracted relatively easily from an infected dog/stool or another item where the pathogen resides.
Thankfully, through vaccinations and veterinarian assistance, if your puppy or dog was to, unfortunately, contract the illness, the chances of survival are high.
That is of course if you get them the specialist care they need promptly.
During and following treatment, there are a lot of home remedies and things that you can do to support their recovery and get them back to their best in a short period of time.
Hydration, Diet, Environment, and Supplementation are the best ones and the avenues to explore.
Learn from this? You may be interested in reading my other related guides:
- What Happens If You Give A Dog Too Much Wormer?
- How Much Dewormer To Give A Puppy?
- Dog Behavior Change After Vaccination [Why & How To Respond]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.