Parvo, scientifically known as ‘Canine Parvovirus’, can be an expensive and even deadly illness but with home remedies for Parvo, it doesn’t have to be. If your puppy or dog has caught the virus, it is vital to begin parvo treatment right away. Many pet owners find that they cannot afford vet fees which can run as high as $2,000 to $3,000 dollars and leaves them feeling hopeless and afraid for their dog’s condition. However, hospitalizing your dog is not your only option. There are several remedies to get rid of Parvovirus that are easy on your wallet and can help to cure the virus.
Canine Parvovirus, (CPV), commonly known as Parvo, is a virus that affects dogs and puppies of any age that have not received a vaccination for this virus. Parvo is highly contagious and hard to control as it can basically be caught anywhere and is hard to trace. There are a few different strains of Parvo that can affect your pet. The currently known strains of this virus are:
CPV strains 1 and 2 are most commonly seen in dogs that are tested, yet since Parvo is a virus, it has evolved and mutated. CPV 2 has mutated strains (a,b, and c) that show the same signs and symptoms and can be harder to treat parvo at home, yet these strains are not as commonly seen in diagnosed dogs.
No matter which strain of the virus your dog has caught, the causes are the same. Parvo is spread through contact (directly or indirectly) with the feces of a dog that has the virus. The virus can live in contaminated feces for several weeks and only a tiny drop of infected feces is enough to quickly spread the contagious virus. Direct contact is common in overcrowded kennels and urban areas. Similarly, indirect contact can occur in many different ways. If the virus makes contact with a shoe, tire, paw, or fur, it can infect anything that your dog comes in contact with. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Crates or kennels
- Food or water bowls
- Collars or Leashes
- Yards or Grass Areas
- Owners Clothing
Dogs that have direct or indirect exposure to the virus are highly likely to contract it and continue the spread and growth of the virus. When an uninfected dog licks itself or makes oral contact with an item or area where the virus has contaminated, the dog will become a new host. The virus can begin to affect your dog as early as 24 hours and the younger the dog, the higher the risk. While most risk is associated with having a puppy, there are a few other risk factors dog owners need to be aware of. Risk factors for Parvo include:
Age– Young puppies do not have a completely developed immune system and are prone to catching illness and disease.
Breed– Unknown to scientists, certain breeds are more prone to catching the virus. According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, these breeds are German Shepard, Rottweiler, American Pit Bull Terriers, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, and English Springer Spaniels, and other members of the canine family (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.). In contrast, toy poodles and cocker spaniels have a reduced risk of catching the virus.
Environment– Due to overcrowded and dirty conditions, dogs in pet stores, animal shelters, and kennels may be at increased risk of parvovirus infection. The virus may spread much more quickly in warm and wet environments, and infected insects and rodents may further transfer the disease. Stray dogs are often unvaccinated and may be particularly prone to the disease. These dogs may be at additionally high risk due to their often unsanitary living environment.
Signs and Symptoms
Since you are with your dog often you will know its body language and normal behavior and health. If you begin to notice extreme differences in your dog’s behavior or health, it is possible that your dog has contracted Parvo. Signs of Parvo are:
- Extreme lethargy or laziness
- Frequent and intense vomiting
- Lack of appetite and/or refusal to eat anything
- Bloody diarrhea, accompanied by a foul odor
- Mucus in your dog’s feces
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
Most cases of Parvo that result in death, are not caused by the virus itself, but by the dehydration caused from the symptoms. Severe dehydration can occur within 24 hours of contracting the virus and can be deadly within 24-72 hours. Symptoms can occur very quickly and any young dog that is showing extreme intestinal issues should be taken to a vet right away for diagnosis.
If your dog has shown signs or symptoms of Parvo, it is highly recommended to get your dog tested before you begin any treatments. Testing your dog for Parvo is done by a few different types of testing. When your dog is first administered to the vet, they will give your dog a general health exam and blood work to diagnose the virus. The vet may also conduct X-Rays in order to rule out any other abdominal issues. In addition to a general action, the veterinarian will perform one (or more) of the following tests:
- ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test). This test is performed by taking a sample of the dog’s stool and results can be found within 15 minutes. While this is the most common way of testing, it can sometimes result in false negatives in certain situations. False negatives occur when there is too much blood in the feces, the dog was recently vaccinated (but the vaccine has not had a chance to build up in the system), or if the test was done too early or too late in the course of the infection.
- Microscopic Exam– After the initial blood work and physical examination, a veterinarian may inspect the canine’s feces under a microscope to try to identify the infection-causing organisms. However, microscopic examinations may not be conclusive, and additional tests may be required.
- Collecting Samples– Using a cotton swab, the veterinarian will take a small sample of feces from the canine’s rectum. A false negative may result from an old sample, so it is important to use a fresh sample from the canine. The sample is then placed in a solution and test kit. The veterinarian will be able to determine if the canine has the parvovirus based on the change in color on the test paper. As this is a generally painless test, sedation is not required.
- Other diagnostic tests may be conducted, including polymerase chain reaction, tissue culture, and viral isolation. Through the initial blood work, the veterinarians may conduct a complete blood count to evaluate potential effects on the bone marrow. Since clinical tests are not 100 percent accurate for the parvovirus, veterinarians will often look for a combination of symptoms, including low white blood cell count. A positive ELISA test and low white blood cell count often lead to a positive diagnosis.
After you have received a positive diagnosis for Parvo, you must begin treatment immediately to relieve your dog of symptoms and reduce and prevent the risk of dehydration. Your veterinarian will recommend hospitalization for treatment and monitoring, yet this can become very expensive and is not an option for those who cannot afford to do so. Luckily, there are several proven home remedies for parvo that can alleviate symptoms and cure the virus. Home remedies for parvo are natural, effective, and can be done at a low cost. Please refer to the list of home remedies below for treating your dog for Parvo.
This is the first step you should take once you are certain that your dog has Parvo. Your pet may not want to drink water on its own, so you will need to take steps to force feed your dog water. This can be done with a pipette or syringe. Unflavored Pedialyte and/or Gatorade can be given to your dog to provide excellent hydration and replenish lost electrolytes. You will need to give them an amount of Pedialyte or Gatorade based on their weight. Ideally, you will give your dog half water and half Gatorade or Pedialyte. If you find that you have to force feed your dog water, fill one dropper or syringe and administer the Pedialyte or Gatorade several times throughout the day, every half hour at the least. During the infection, you will need to monitor how hydrated your dog is. Hydration levels can be checked by trying to lift the skin above the shoulder blades or back in a tent. If the skin snaps promptly back into place, the hydration levels are fine. If it takes a while or remains lifted then the pup will need to be hydrated ASAP.
2. Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal tablets can be found at any health food store or aquarium store. Using it can help to cure your dog of Parvo. Activated charcoal is best used as a solution. To make a solution, take a one-liter bottle, add one cup of water and combine one tablet of crushed activated charcoal. Make sure the activated charcoal is a fine powder. To finish the solution, you can add either Pedialyte or Gatorade. Shake well and administer 10mls to your pet every fifteen minutes. If your dog begins to show signs of improvement within four hours, give 10mls every 30 minutes. Using this solution can help to cure Parvo within seven days, but it is highly important to stick to the regime.
3. Pepto Bismol
Pepto Bismol can be found in nearly every drug store, grocery store, or even gas station. It is commonly used for intestinal issues in humans, and it is gentle enough to be used for the same issues in puppies or dogs. You will need a syringe or pipette to give your dog one tablespoon of Pepto Bismol every four hours. Within three days your dog should show signs of improvement of symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
When your dog or puppy first contracts Parvo, they will most definitely lose all interest in food. After a few days of not eating, your dog will have increased stress on the immune system and yet another burden to overcome in the healing process. Once they have been diagnosed, you can rub pancake syrup or Karo syrup onto their gums. This will allow for glucose levels to rise and give them the energy to actually eat. After eight hours of administering hydration techniques and your dog has shown signs of improvement, you can begin to give your dog simple foods. Chicken broth and boiled rice are a great place to start. If your dog begins to eat on its own, give him/her as much as they can eat as often as possible to build up their strength and help to fight the virus. If your dog’s condition has improved, but it still cannot eat on their own, you can blend the rice and chicken broth and force-feed them with a syringe or pipette. You can feed your dog the chicken broth and boiled rice for three days, after which soft food can be given.
5. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a great way to hydrate your pet while at the same time allowing it to relax and sleep. Brew two tea bags of the tea and make sure that it is 100% caffeine-free. You can give your dog warm or cooled tea. Chamomile tea should be introduced gradually, not force-fed. You can give your dog 1ml of chamomile tea every half an hour. If your dog drinks the chamomile tea and vomits, this is normal and you should seek to give your dog more of the tea in half an hour after vomiting.
6. Ginger Tea and Dry Ginger
Ginger is widely known to relieve symptoms of nausea and upset stomach in humans and can do the same for dogs. This is due to the fact that ginger contains digestive properties that are capable of calming the digestive system. You can give your dog 1ml of ginger tea every half an hour by using a syringe. Alternatively, you can give your dog dried ginger with their food. It is best if you can blend or crush the dried ginger into a powder as this will allow for faster absorption into your dog’s system. If your dog is not eating on its own, you can mix crushed dried ginger with water and give them 1ml of the mixture with a pipette or syringe every half an hour.
7. White Willow Bark
White Willow Bark contains fever-reducing properties and works as a fast-acting agent to fight fever. White Willow Bark can be difficult to find, but you can check local herb shops or even websites such as Amazon.com before you give up your search. If you do manage to get a hold of this herb, you can give your dog 250mg every four hours as needed for fighting the fever.
8. Colloidal Silver
Colloidal Silver has high anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. The amount of Colloidal Silver to give your dog will vary depending on the weight and overall size. While the amount will vary, you can administer the Colloidal Silver once every four hours to help kill the virus and alleviate symptoms. If your dog is drinking, simply mix their specific amount with the water or other liquid home remedies. Otherwise, you will need to force-feed your dog. To save time and effort in force-feeding your dog, mix the colloidal silver with another liquid remedy or hydration technique. Colloidal Silver can be given throughout and even after the virus.
Although this is a simple technique, a properly maintained and sterile environment can help prevent the spread and growth of Parvo. If your dog has come into contact with any bedding, linens, clothing, or other soft materials, you can wash them in hot water- separately from other items, two to three times. Once they have been washed, placed them in the dryer on the highest temperature setting and longest cycle as the extreme heat will help to kill the virus. You will need to repeat the drying at least once to ensure that it is no longer present. If you do not own or have access to a washer and dryer, it is best to properly dispose of the contaminated items. This can be done by burning the items or placing them in bio-hazardous waste bins.
For items such as kennels, cages, food bowls, toys, flooring, etc., you will need to use bleach to soak and clean. Gather a large bucket or use a sink to combine bleach and cold water. Add any small items to the mixture and let soak overnight. Once they have finished soaking, you can scrub them thoroughly with bleach and rinse. Let dry in the sun and store in plastic bags or containers until you are certain the virus has been relinquished. For flooring, kennels, and cages, you will need to use bleach as well to clean. You should clean these items every day throughout the course of the virus with bleach to prevent the virus from growing and reoccurring. When you are handling your dog you will need latex gloves, disposable aprons or clothing, and regularly disinfect your hands. Maintaining a sterile environment is vital to prevent the spread and growth of the Parvovirus.
10. Monitoring Environment
Monitoring your dog’s environment is crucial to preventing and spreading Parvo. If your dog is infected, you will need to isolate and limit contact with any other animals and humans. Do not allow your dog to go into your yard or grassy area to use the toilet as the infected feces will infect this area. You will also need to avoid beaches, dog parks, and urban areas for several weeks after your dog has contracted Parvo to prevent spreading and re-contamination. You should also ensure that your pet does not come into contact with a vet clinic waiting room. You should not allow your dog to sniff other dogs as well in order to prevent spreading the disease. It is also highly recommended to refrain from getting a new puppy for up to six months after your dog has contracted Parvo.
11. Vitamin C
Giving your dog 500mg of liquid Vitamin C twice each day will boost their immune system and allow for faster healing times. You can mix the liquid vitamins and minerals to their food or other liquid hydration techniques. This is a very important step on the road to recovery as Vitamin C directly affects the immune system and helps to fight the virus. You will need to administer the Vitamin C regime throughout the virus and even after it is gone to maintain a healthy immune system.
Echinacea is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is used to fight fever as well as the stomach inflammation that occurs when your dog has Parvo. You can give your dog two capsules of Echinacea twice per day to help soothe the symptoms of Parvo. You will need to open the capsules and you can mix the capsules with the food or liquids that you will be giving your dog. This will provide your dog comfort during the healing process and can be given each day while your dog has the virus.
Agrimonia, a genus of perennial plants in the family Rosaceae, soothes the inflamed membranes of the digestive tract. Agrimonia can be an effective healing agent for dogs with parvovirus. This herbal remedy can be found at herbal food shops or health food stores and comes in dried or capsule form. You can give your dog two capsules, twice per day to help relieve your dog of its symptoms. Mixing with food or liquids is ideal and you can follow this treatment regime during the entire course of the virus.
14. Omega 3 and Omega 6
Adding these healthy fats to your dog’s diet will help to give their bodies the strength to fight the virus. Omega 3 and Omega 6 can be found in a variety of drug stores and health food stores and usually comes in capsule form. Simply add two capsules to your dog’s food or liquid and make sure they ingest the Omega. You can force-feed the Omega to your dog, especially at the beginning stages of the virus to ensure they have enough strength to fight the virus. The Omega 3 and Omega 6 will also allow your dog to maintain its weight. You will need to give your dog the Omega capsules twice per day for at least one week, or until they no longer have the virus.
15. Egg Yolk
Egg yolk, from chicken eggs, is a high protein source of food as well as a powerful agent for fighting Parvo. Chicken egg yolk contains powerful immunoglobulins that assist in the treatment of the virus.
A 2005 Japanese study undertaken at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences
It was discovered that the immunoglobulins derived from chicken egg yolk are effective in protecting dogs against the Canine Parvo Virus 2 strain. The study was carried out on 10 beagle dogs with the virus and found that those who were put on the treatment recovered quicker and had more noticeable weight gain after a seven-day trial than the dogs who did not receive it.
Hawthorn extract has high antioxidant qualities to promote artery strength and overall health of the cardiovascular system and is, therefore, a useful homeopathic remedy for dogs with Parvovirus. Dried Hawthorn berries or Hawthorn extract can be found in many different health food stores. You will need to administer the Hawthorn at least twice per day with or after a meal. You can use this herbal remedy during the entire course of the virus.
Probiotics such as yogurt, curd, and probiotic supplements are very helpful in alleviating symptoms associated with Parvo. The probiotics will work to restore healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract and will help to prevent your dog from having further vomiting and diarrhea. You can feed the curd or natural, plain yogurt a few times each day to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in their gut. The size of your dog will depend on the amount you will need to give them. Probiotics can be given during and after the contraction of the virus to maintain a healthy level of good bacteria and stop diarrhea.
18. Oatmeal and Oatmeal Water
Oatmeal and oatmeal water are both great for sustenance and hydration. The simplicity and high energy of the oatmeal will give your dog strength while being gentle on the stomach for digestion. To make Oatmeal Water you will need to follow these steps:
- Boil half a gallon (i.e. eight cups) of water.
- Add the half cup of oatmeal, one teaspoon of salt and one third cup of maple or pancake syrup, and give it a really good stir, to mix it all in.
- Take it off the heat.
- Let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Strain off the oatmeal, but keep this in the refrigerator for later, as most dogs love oatmeal, and it’s good for them.
- The liquid that is left is the Oatmeal Water.
Once you have the oatmeal water, you can add to or replace your dog’s current liquid hydration treatments or create a new mixture to further heal and hydrate your dog. The following recipe is an example of combining several different treatment methods and is highly effective.
- Heat 1 cup of Oatmeal Water until it is hot, but DO NOT BOIL IT.
- Add the following ingredients to the heated Oatmeal Water:
- 2 tea bags of mint tea
- 2 tea bags of chamomile tea
- the contents of 2 capsules of Echinacea
- 1 teaspoon of maple or pancake syrup
- 250mg of ginger
- 250mg of White Willow Bark (if you could find it)
- Stir it well.
- Let it cool for 20 minutes.
- Strain the liquid to remove any non-liquid ingredients (e.g. the tea bags, and any bits of herbs, etc.).
You can give your dog this highly effective mixture of remedies several times per day until they are no longer infected with the virus.
19. Beef Liver
Beef Liver can be found at several supermarkets and butcheries and is a high protein meal replacement that will give your dog the energy that is needed to fight the virus and prevent severe weight loss. Depending on how sick the puppy is will depend on how you will need to prepare it. Different methods of preparation include:
• Chop the beef liver up into small bits and fry it.
• Try it raw
• Puree it
• If the puppy will not keep the beef liver down try using the juice from boiling the liver.
Pureed Beef Liver Recipe
• 1/2 tub beef liver
• Water or electrolyte fluid
Boil the beef liver until thoroughly cooked. Put the beef liver in a blender and blend. Add enough water or electrolyte fluid until the beef liver is thin enough to suck up into the syringe. Give beef liver every 3 hours according to the chart below. Do not give more than is recommended in the chart below. An overdose of beef liver can cause additional diarrhea.
Weight of Dog Beef Liver
• Under 2lbs give 1/8 teaspoon
• 2-3 lbs give ¼ teaspoon
• 4-10 lbs. give ½ teaspoon
• 11-20 lbs. give 1 teaspoon
• 21-30 lbs. give 2 teaspoons
• 31-40 lbs. give 1 tablespoon
• 41- 50 lbs. give 2 tablespoons
Add an additional 1-tablespoon to the 2 tablespoons for every 10 lbs of body weight over 50 lbs.
When you have found that your puppy or dog has been diagnosed with Canine Parvovirus, it can be a scary and worrisome time, especially if you are not in the financial standing to pay for the expensive hospitalization and vet treatments. Using home remedies for Parvo in puppies is not only less expensive than treating at a vet clinic, but they are also highly effective in curing the virus and alleviating symptoms. Remember to act fast and use preventative methods wherever possible and you will find your dog on the road to recovery in no time.