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Parvo Symptoms and Treatment

Is This a Death Sentence for Your Dog?
Unfortunately, it can be. But the rate at which parvovirus kills has been seriously diminished in recent years due to scientific understanding on how to replace the vital elements in your dogs body that are lost in the throes of this decimating virus.

If your dog has tested positive for parvovirus, you may want to save this page so that you can refer back to it for information, treatment, and comfort while you nurse your pup back to health.

If you think your dog may have parvo, please continue reading to learn what you can, must, and should do to help them through this devastating illness.

How Can My Dog Be Exposed to Parvo?

You May Be Surprised

Dogs do not have to be taken into to unfamiliar surroundings to be exposed, although doing so regular does increase the risk of contracting Parvo. In fact, even if your dog or dogs stay in an enclosed area such as your backyard, they may still be at risk for exposure to the Parvovirus. Some of the most common manners in which your dog can be exposed to Parvo include:
  • Vet/Clinic Visits
  • Dog Parks
  • If an Owner comes in contact with sick dogs (rescue, vet care, dog sitting etc.)
  • Contaminated Dogs visiting your home, or just your yard.

Although these certainly are not the only means in which your dog can come in contact with this deadly virus, but it is certainly a good idea of how easy, and how wide-reaching it can be.

Even if there is only an outbreak near your area, something as simple as a bird landing on parvo'd fecal matter and then perching on your dogs outside food or water dish could make it possible to have this illness.

The Parvovirus is known to stay alive and active, even in your yard, for anywhere from six months to two years. For this reason be sure you read the section on Cleaning Up After Parvo.

What Age Dogs Are Affected by Parvo?

The Two Forms of Parvo

Although any age dog can get the Parvo virus, most commonly it is a puppy illness. Pups 6 months and younger are most susceptible to picking up this highly-contagious virus. It can also affect older dogs, though dogs over a year old have a 90% chance of survival if proper care is provided and many experience the symptoms very mildly compared to what the pups go through.

Dogs with a compromised immune system may also pick up the virus. The best known preventative is to have your dog immunized, however, even fully immunized dogs have been known to still contract the parvovirus.

The most common form of Parvovirus attacks the intestines and causes them to slough off the intestines inner layer. There is an intestinal form of the virus, as well as a cardiac form.

Cardiac Parvo

Although pups from 8 weeks to 1 year have a survival rate of around 70% if the dog is kept hydrated, pups under 8 weeks old can be more likely to suffer from the cardiac form of Parvo. This form attacks the heart muscles and the symptoms as well as the outlook is very grim for these affected puppies.
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Difficulty Breathing, Crying, gasping
  • Serious depression
  • Refusal to Nurse
  • Sudden Death
The prognosis could not be more dire than sudden death, and in the case of pups with the cardiac form of Parvo, most vets will suggest a humane euthanasia for the animal instead of a 'peaceful death' at home with their families due to the extreme pain and suffering they can experience until their heart fully stops.

Parvovirus is contagious to dogs only, not to humans or even cats.

The First Signs of Parvo

How to Recognize the Common Form of Parvovirus in Your Dog
Since the earliest signs of Parvo can easily go unnoticed, you may not recognize them at all until the next stage sets in.
  • Depression
  • No Appetite
  • Lethargic/Sleeping More Than Usual
  • Excessive Drooling
If you worry that your pup is sick, find its absolute favorite treat and offer it. If the pup refuses the treat, you have a sick pup. With parvo, the earlier you can begin to treat the symptoms, the better chance the dog has.

From the onset of these symptoms until the time the virus 'breaks' into the system can be anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours on average. It is also possible for the dog to begin to experience all of the symptoms of the viruses next stage along with the first signs, at once.

If Your Pup is Ill Purchase These Immediately!!
They deliver fast and will make the difference in your pups survival!!

Parvo Virus Combo Pack - Parvaid and Vibactra Plus

PetAlive Parvo-K for Canine Parvo Virus (20g)

Parvaid - All Natural Parvo Aid for Dogs (4 oz)

When Parvo Breaks

When Parvo breaks you can expect a lot of upsetting and highly-concerning things to begin occurring.
  • Dog quits eating and drinking
  • Vomiting - Can be muscus-y, bloody, white, yellow, or green
  • Diarrhea or Projectile Diarrhea - The stool will become very watery and is often made up of 'old blood' in the intestinal tract
  • Limb Weakness and Shaking
It is not the Parvovirus itself that can kill your beloved pet, but the dehydration and secondary infections that are the results of it, that are most dangerous. There should be no need to tell you that at this point, you will want to get your pet vetted as soon as possible. Do your part in preventing the spread of this virus by calling ahead of time and letting the vet staff know that your pup may have Parvo so they can be prepared, or even give you a less traveled path to enter their office with.

The vomiting at this point will be almost constant after doses of water or even the IV fluids given by a vet. You can expect that once water is ingested, during this stage of parvo, you can expect the water to be vomited up from 45 minutes to 1 hour after drinking. You will know that your pup is on the mend when they go much longer between bouts.

This stage is the worst stage, not to mention by far the most dangerous to your pet's survival. The second stage of Parvo, commonly noted by the first time your dog suffers from projectile or bloody diarrhea, can last anywhere from 4 to 10 days.

What to Expect at the Vet

The Good News and the Bad News
The good news is that the sooner you vet your dog the better chance of survival they have. At the vet your dog will likely:
  • Be stool tested for Parvo
  • Receive intravenous fluids (Don't freak out over the bubble it puts on the back of their neck because this hump will provide them fluids when needed, sort of like a camel
  • Be tested for dehydration. You too can test this at home so watch how the vet will pull the loose skin up on their back, and release. The slower this skin 'snaps back' the more dehydrated, and in danger, your pup is
At this point, if your dogs illness or heath condition is in a critical stage you will want to discuss two very real possibilities with your dogs doctor.
  • Hospitalization
  • Euthanasia

Don't panic. Your vet will likely tell you, and hopefully with compassion, that they will let you know when they would make their own decision to euthanize were your dog their own. Although it doesn't happen with major regularity, some animals can suffer from an enlarged heart or painful nervous conditions from the side effects of the Parvovirus alone. Should your dog begin to show signs that your very touch is extremely painful, you may want to seriously consider ending their misery as humanely as possible.

If however, your dog is just severely dehydrated, and your schedule will not allow you to nurse them, and enforce fluids and meds on every couple of hours, hospitalization may be the only option for surviving this horrible illness.

Meds the Vet May Give You to Take Home

Be Prepared to Force It!
If your dog has been vomiting before you take them to the vet, the vet may give them a shot to help control the nausea and vomiting. Be sure to take advantage of this time to get some fluids in them when you get home, if they do not give IV fluids at the vet office. If they do, do not force any more fluids on them in case the IV fluids are rejected.
  • Cerenia - Anti-nausea medication
  • Metronidazole - AntiBiotics
  • Proviable - ProBiotic
While your vet may use different brands or types of these same medications, in essence, you can expect, and even ask for this series of medications. They, along with a few items you can purchase at any grocery store, can and likely will mean the difference between your dogs survival, or their very untimely death.

Parvaid - Is it a Miracle Option for Dogs with Parvo?

Many Swear By It!!
An organic herbal food supplement for dogs can and has tried and proven results on dogs suffering from the Parvo virus. It is also well known to be highly beneficial to dogs who have other intestinal problems. Made by a highly resourceful herbalist, this remedy, or series of remedies helps to replenish the vital vitamins and minerals your dog loses due to vomiting and diarrhea from Parvo. It is well known to not only save the lives of dogs on whom other remedies and medications have not worked, but to also greatly shorten the time your animal suffers from this illness. 

Parvo Virus Combo Pack - Parvaid and Vibactra Plus

Vibactra - All-Natural Antibiotic Alternative for Pets (1oz)

Parvaid - All-Natural Parvo Aid for Dogs (1oz)

Items You Will Need to Treat Your Dog with Parvo at Home

After the Vet Visit, Gather Up These Items
You may need to make a trip to the store for a few items but you will want to purchase or keep handy all of the below.
  • Pedialyte
  • Baby Food Chicken
  • Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate
  • Cooked Chicken
  • Cooked Rice
  • Towels
  • Eye Dropper/Medicine Dropper
  • Puppy Pads - Unscented
  • Bleach Mix/Water 1/10
Although it may seem like quite a list, many of these items you will already have available in your home.


If your pet has gone a long time without eating you may want to consider purchasing a tube of Nutri-Cal. This can be squirted as small dollops on their noses and they most likely will lick it off. This can replenish depleting nutrients in their systems that they need since they are not getting them from their usual food source.

Nutri-Cal for Puppy High-Calorie Nutritional Supplement, 4.25-Ounce

Tomlyn Nutri-Cal for Dogs and Cats

6-Pack Nutri-Cal High Calorie Dietary Supplement, 4.25-Ounce Tube

You May Be Soley Responsible for Nursing Your Dog Back to Life

You will need to be prepared to care for your pup about every three hours, even at night. Not doing so can cause a dog that is very dehydrated to take a sudden turn and pass on before you can get fluids in them. Do not let them go 6 to 8 hours at night without being offered liquids.

If your vet has given you a few different medications be sure to write down their dosage times. Do not rely on your memory since you are likely to be experiencing a bit of chaos for the next few days.

You will be making use of all those things you purchased at the grocery store now.

Staying Hydrated

When at all possible, offer your pup pedialyte in place of water. Even though pedialyte has a 'sweet taste' some dogs may turn their nose from it because it doesn't smell like water. If this is an issue, offer the dog water. The point is to stay as hydrated as possible, the pedialyte just helps to replace the electrolytes lost during vomiting and diarrhea, much like Gatorade does for people. If you do not have pedialyte handy, you can substitute Gatorade highly cut to around 1/10 with water. Although it isn't created to help weak tummies in babies like pedialyte is, it does have the vital electrolytes that your pup needs to survive.

If your pup absolutely will not drink, there is one more thing you can try. Fill a small light colored bowl (salad bowl size) with water and pour one teaspoon of milk into the water. The light bowl prevents them from seeing that the water is altered, and for some reason many dogs will take water, even if they really don't want to, if it has a bit of milk in it. This is NOT the best idea as if the pup is fevered and hasn't had food on their belly for a while, milk can turn the stomach a bit. However, a upset tummy is better than a dehydrated dog.

Also keep in mind that no dog should go more than 24 hours without some water, pedialyte, gatorade mix, or some form of liquid. If you have tried all of the tricks and your pup hasn't had water in an entire day, call your vet and ask if you can bring your pup in for IV fluids. Many vets are kind enough to offer this service, at a fee of around $10 to $20 dollars, without charging for an office visit. Never hesitate to ask!

Forcing Fluids

If you get to the point where the dog is no longer taking water willingly, and the vet is not an option or you feel the situation is an emergency one, you can use the eyedropper you purchased to force a bit of water into your dog. However, if it comes to where you are 'forcing' fluid intake, it would be better to go ahead and use the pedialyte. This way your pup gets fluids and electrolytes. If you have to force it, may as well force the most beneficial liquids on them.

Drinking Again? Slow it Down

Parvo is a horrible and sometimes deadly roller coaster ride. Even though your pup may feel a bit better one moment, doesn't mean they can go free-for-all in the water bowl. Not only can drinking loads of water after a dry spell cause the tummy to spasm, a pup can quickly back-peddle on their recovery if a barely healing tummy begins to spasm and vomit its contents again.

It may be very hard to pull your obviously thirsty pup away from the water dish, but not doing so can turn one ounce of recovery into a deadly game of sympathy.

Poop Stinks!
I Mean Reaaalllly Stinks
One of the most concrete signs of Parvo is when your pets stool turns into a brown or red watery liquid. The other side effect is that it really stinks, far more than usual. You may be thinking to yourself, well, all poop stinks doesn't it. Yes, it does, but once you smell a Parvo poop, you will definitely notice a difference in smells.

It will be very important to you of course to prevent your pup from releasing any of this seriously smelly poop inside your home. In order to have the best chance of preventing this, be sure to keep an eye on your pup for when they get restless, move around, or look for corners or dark places in your home. The best thing you can do is offer them 'outside' every time they do perk up. Chances are during the Parvo stint, if they are moving, they are about to poop or vomit.

With Parvo it seems that often the real symptoms, or the heaviest part of the illness, do not truly kick in until they release this first toxic smelling poop. Once it does, you can plan on another 4 to 9 days of pup nursing.

Don't forget the vital things you will need to sustain them
and those things to clean up after the illness runs its course

Pet Focus Disinfectant - Gallon

Benefect Botanical Disinfectant - 1 gallon

Top Performance Pet 256 Disinfectant and Deodorizer, Wintergreen, 1-Gallon

OdoBan 911062-G4 Eliminator and Disinfectant Concentrate, One Gallon

Stay Clean

Prevent the Spread of Parvovirus

When your pup begins to get ill with this virus you will want to go ahead and drag out all of the old towels, rags, and handy carpet or upholstery cleaning tools. When your pup begins to get sick, gently urge them towards the door, or to the area in your house where vomit may be the easiest to clean. Doing so right off the bat will quickly train the pup to head to those areas, or to run to the door when they are about to vomit. However, this is only if your pup is able to stand and walk. Many with parvo will not be and you must be prepared to keep towels, rags, or items you are willing to wash or dispose of around their head and neck area.

You can expect, like slightly broken clockwork, that after every ingestion of fluids, your pup will likely expel them. Often they will actually have a bit of spit up right after drinking, and then 45 minutes to 2 hours later, the rest will follow. This may seem redundant, but even if they are seemingly vomiting up every bit of liquid they drank, they are still keeping some extremely vital water in them, even if just a little bit.

Make a habit of grabbing a towel quickly to clean up any accidents, and there will be some, and then following up by using a spray bottle with the bleach mix to coat the soiled area once it is cleaned. Let the area air dry. You can also use the puppy pads to create a 'nest' for your pet. Puppy pads do have waterproof plastic on them to help prevent your furniture, carpet, or flooring from absorbing the water from the vomit.

Bleach the Yard??

Even one your dog's health begins to improve, you need to stay vigilant about cleaning up the areas they may have left this virus on. You should even take a bleach mix and a sprayer, or hose, and bleach the areas of your yard your dog may have used. Parvovirus has been known to live up to 2 years in the environment and the only thing that will kill it is bleach.

You would truly rather have dead grass, or a bleach spot on the carpet at this point most likely.

Help! My Dog's Head is Shaking!
Is he/she having a seizure?
In the case of Parvo, most likely this head-shaking is due to hypoglycemia. This is because they are not receiving their daily sugars as usual. This head shaking can be stopped, and prevented by giving your pet a half teaspoon of sugar in a bowl of water once per day.

Generalized Parvo Timeline

Average Numbers Only!

Day One: Exposure to the Parvo Virus
Days Two - Five: Pup Shows First Signs - Not eating, drooling
Days Three - Six: Parvo breaks through the pups stool - Projectile or very watery stool begins
Days Four - Ten: Parvo runs its course with periods of extreme depression, lethargy, dehydration, and vomiting
Days Five - Twenty-One: Pup slowly recovers, Begins showing interest in food, stops vomiting water, stool slowly begins to harden up

Don't Forget the Love!

Your Pup Will Need an Overdose of this Med
Vital to some dogs suffering from Parvo is human touch. Even if they look at you as if they could go the rest of their lives without your touch, don't let there be a chance that happens. Touch them, croon to them, sing to them, baby-talk to them, do anything and everything you can do to get a perk of the ears, a lifted head, or a noticeable glare. The important part is that they know they are loved. Dogs that are extremely ill with Parvo can be just like any other mammals, including humans, and just get to a point where they would like to give up. You may even recognize this in their eyes. There is nothing harder to witness. But DO NOT GIVE UP!!!

Keep forcing those fluids, cleaning those messes, and baby-talking until your dog is so angry they look ready to bite. Do anything and everything you can do to keep their spirits up, even if their spirit is sort of cranky at the moment. That spark, that fire, and the fight to want to live may be the most vital part of their survival. Never discount the power of your love for your dog, they don't.

An Unfortunate Untimely End

The Peace At Rainbow Bridge

If you do all of these things and still lose your pup. The first thing you must do is grieve. Who cares if people think you a little odd for crying over a pup you had for only x months or weeks. Who cares? You did, and that was shown to your pup in those hours where they were the lowest, and the sound of your voice their only real tie with this world. Remember that you did your absolute best, and ignore any judgmental comments you may hear.

Also, be sure you clean your house, your entire property, and anything exposed to the Parvo virus with a fairly strong bleach mixture before you consider bringing any other dogs back into your home.

As you have just bore witness to exactly how ravaging this virus can be, you are certainly likely to be first in line when it comes to wanting to prevent this from occurring to any other dogs. Until you can kill this virus, let friends and family members know that your home is not safe for their dogs.

Please Help Me Now!

I Think My Pup Might Die!
I understand how horrible and frustrating this illness is. For this reason, I will attempt to help anyone who finds themselves with questions or issues that just cannot wait long for answers. Although I am far from a Vet, I can offer hands-on experience with many issues, so while I cannot offer my advice in place of any advice a Vet would give, I can attempt to help you in several areas when it comes to parvo and your pup's treatment. Two heads are always better than one when trying to save a life! 

ALWAYS REMEMBER: You will receive the best possible care and advice from your Veterinarian. Always take the chance and ask them if they can offer you reduced cost care, payment options or even just helpful procedures like IV Fluids at costs without the office visit $. Many Vets truly care for their patients and will help where they can. Also remember when seeking Vet care that Parvo is an easily spread illness and your Vet may have you use a special less traveled entrance to protect your animal and their own,

My Pup Needs Help and Fast!

Emergency Survival Pack
Although a 'survival pack' may be a chilling thought right now, if your pup is in the throes of parvo, you are probably taking it seriously. Good. This short list is the best compilation of the most vital remedies you can purchase for pup with parvo. Once Parvo presents it's first obvious stage, drooling in most cases, you have a few days window where your dog is still mostly hydrated and not totally lethargic. Grab these critical elements to help ensure your pup pulls through.

This list is constantly updated to focus on the best currently available deals on Amazon. Don't be afraid to rush shipping. Amazon has always had excellent shipping speeds and the extra rush doesn't cost that much.

Parvo Virus Combo Pack - Parvaid and Vibactra Plus

Vital remedy and restorative for riding out the extreme physical ailments that come with Parvovirus. You will need one pack per pup.

Parvaid - All Natural Parvo Aid for Dogs (4 oz)

Have more than one pup exposed? You will need one of these for every two pups.

Nutri-Cal for Puppy High-Calorie Nutritional Supplement, 4.25-Ounce

Quick nutrition for the inevitable scare of your pup going long periods without eating. This will help!

*Veterinarian Recommended
*Provides quality nutrition in a great-tasting gel
*Ideal for puppies who are finicky, who are "off food" or require an additional source of energy

6-Pack Nutri-Cal High Calorie Dietary Supplement, 4.25-Ounce Tube

Multi sick pups and larger breeds.

Top Performance Pet 256 Fresh Disinfectant and Deodorizer, 1-Gallon

You cannot forget to disinfect! You should be doing it as you go along in the progression of the virus so you do not forget the places your pup has spread germs through vomit and stool. Parvo is deadly to your pets, other pets and future pets for quite some time unless properly disinfected.

Does Your Dog Have Parvo?

Or do you suspect it?

I am no expert but have researched and used many different methods for keeping a parvo dog hydrated, the most important thing. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here and I will reply within a few hours.
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