Canine Parvo is the last thing you want to hear from a Veterinarian when it concerns your brand new rescue puppy, unfortunately for us, that phone call was just the beginning of a nightmare week. Actually we battled the Parvovirus, then the pneumonia almost took him. Two months of hell. And even longer for a full recovery. Here’s our puppy’s canine Parvo recovery story.
I am writing this post in hopes that our experience can help others that choose to try and save a Parvo puppy at home with vet support. There wasn’t a lot of hope or information out there for us when we were going through it. This is a long post with TONS of helps and links to further reading. At the end of this post is a video of Carson two years after recovery. We hope this gives you ideas and motivation on how to go forward with your own Parvo recovery plan. Good luck!
We rescued a beautiful Chiweenie (Chihuahua and Dachshund mix) from a shelter in Texas in October 2015. He was 17 weeks old when we picked him up from a PetCo rendezvous point. The 3 hour drive to pick him up was filled with excitement and anticipation.
When we got to the store, they handed us an adorable brown puppy that was quiet in our arms and trembling. Poor scared baby. We bought him all his puppy stuff, food and toys and headed back up the freeway.
I snuggled him the whole 2 hour car ride back to home. He was so quiet we didn’t need the crate we brought for him.
When we stopped at a rest stop to let him go potty, he did not jump around or appear very energetic like we expected him to.
We chalked it up to him being tired from the trip and didn’t worry too much about it.
A day after he was brought home, he started appearing even more lethargic and seemed to be having increased trouble with wheezy breathing and snuffling. He still wasn’t a bouncy and healthy looking puppy and seemed too warm. Even Sherman looked concerned for lil Carson and snuggled him. We decided to bring him into the Vet.
The Vet diagnosed and treated Carson for pneumonia and hookworms. He also ran a test for Parvo even though he didn’t think that Carson (the puppy) had it. Carson had had one round of puppy vaccines including Parvo.
A few hours later the Vet called back and confirmed our worst fear. Not only did our new puppy have advanced pneumonia, and a severe case of worms, he also was in the beginning stages of Parvo, a literal death sentence for most dogs. We were stunned! Shocked and devastated. How could this be happening?
The vet quickly outlined our options:
- Admit him to the animal hospital for a few thousand dollars where they will give him fluids and antibiotics to combat the Parvo and pneumonia. (The vet gave NO guarantee of survival. In fact he had very little hope even a hospital stay could save our dog.)or…
- We could treat him at home and try and save him. Keeping in mind that he will almost certainly die with this option.
We couldn’t afford the hospital, so we chose to treat him at home. He would have love and whatever help we could give him.
If you treat your puppy at home…BRACE YOURSELF. This is a non stop 24/7 experience. Get as much help from your vet as you can afford. Many vets are flexible and will care for the pup during the day so you can care for them after work. But I have no idea when you will sleep. We went round the clock treatments since we had no IVs for hydration. Mom and I teamed up on this project. Canine parvo recovery support for your pup requires constant and relentless care by you until all symptoms are finished and even longer if the dog is still ill with secondary problems as our dog was.
NOTE: By the time it was all said and done we still spent several hundred dollars on our canine parvo recovery journey. The rescue organization did refund our adoptions fees though and that was a big financial help. They were devastated he contracted Parvo through them. The rescue advised us and supported us over the phone throughout Carson’s recovery.
At The Onset of Symptoms:
Carson’s condition quickly started to deteriorate hour by hour. With no clear idea what to do, Mom hugged the pup and syringed water down him while I consulted Google. There were several reports of Tamiflu working on Parvo when administered orally via a liquid suspension within the first 48 hours of symptoms appearing. Here is a scientific article describing it’s effectiveness and recommended dosage. Your vet will have to prescribe it.
We got on the phone with the Vet and asked him for a Tamiflu prescription. He was skeptical at first, but he Found a study done on the positive effects of Tamiflu for dogs with Parvo. He did end up writing us the prescription with proper dosage. He may have saved Carson with that prescription.
What happened next was one of the most physically and emotionally taxing weeks of our lives. We nursed that puppy 24 hours a day. I stayed overnight to help and We both syringed fluids and medicine down his throat every 15 minutes during the day, and every hour all night long.
Meanwhile, I spent countless hours doing research on the Internet and constantly watching him for dreaded new symptoms appearing. It was grueling and emotionally devastating but we kept it up. Neither of us would quit.
Learning about Canine parvo was a big help. We watched for the signs of progression and the timeline of the stages of the disease so we could move forward with him and know where he was in the process.
- The rule of thumb is 72 hours for the ACUTE symptoms to run their course. This timeline can lengthen so don’t get discouraged. Get more help!
- If the dog survives through the symptoms be encouraged the worst is over for the Parvo virus.
- Do NOT stop treatment unless cleared by a vet. Parvo is very debilitating and the dog needs a LOT of Long term support to get back to health.
- Secondary problems can be worse than Parvo. Ask us how we know that!
This infographic Lists the common symptoms for Canine Parvo. Your puppy may show some or all of these and other symptoms that don’t make sense (secondary illnesses are common with Parvo). This disease progresses FAST and you need to get your dog into the vet ASAP and get the diagnosis and treatment plan started. Do NOT wait for it to get worse. The earlier you treat this virus the better your pups chances of recovery.
CANINE PARVO RECOVERY:
There is NO specific cure for Parvo. The virus must run its course. The following guide will help you see the areas of support your pet needs to have the best chance of survival. Here is an infographic summary of the care a pup needs in recovery from parvo.
BACK TO OUR STORY:
Carson had a few things going for him that made his situation a little better.
- Carson had already had his first round of Parvo immunizations.
- He was 17 weeks old and a little stronger than a brand new 7 or 8 week old puppy.
- He is a small mixed breed dog that is said to have one of the better chances of survival (large breeds often don’t fare as well as small breeds with this disease. (Dehydration is a HUGE issue-get Sub cu fluids in OFTEN for your large breed pup).
Carson also had a few BIG negatives going against him.
- He not only had Parvo, he also had a nasty case of pneumonia and BAD worms.
- Carson was weak, stressed and tired from traveling in a van all the way from Texas to WA.
- He was underweight and malnourished going into this disease.
- The vet held little hope for his survival and adopted a hands off attitude once we decided on a home cure.
Carson’s Sickness Symptoms and progression:
- Severe Lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea (We only saw blood in his stool twice, and it was a trace amount. We believe the quick administration of Tami Flu kept his intestines from getting too inflamed.)
- Vomiting. This became fairly severe. We held him upright and motionless in our arms in a chair all day long so he wouldn’t get up and vomit.(He wanted to but managed to keep some of the fluids he needed down). You will need the vet to prescribe an anti nausea medicine. The Vibactra also helped with nausea.
- Thick Yellow fluid draining from his nostrils (this was from his advanced case of pneumonia).
- Coughing/wheezing from pneumonia fluids filling his lungs and sinus.
Our Home Treatment Method for Canine Parvo:
- Administering Tamiflu. We believe this was essential to minimizing the intestinal destruction of Parvo. The Tamiflu coats the lining of the intestines and stops the Parvo from shredding the intestinal lining. This ended up working really well and we only had 1 day where he had minimal blood present in his stool. (NOTE: If you can’t get hold of TamiFlu use Pepto Bismol. Your vet can tell you how much.)
- Constant hydration: One of the biggest factors that leads to the demise of the dog is the quick and massive dehydration that results from the constant vomiting and diarrhea that a dog with Parvo will present. We used a 25 ml syringe filled with water, and we pried his mouth open and shot it down the back of his throat every 15 minutes during the day and every hour all night long. We could not keep up with his fluid loss. Vets can do fluids through a sub cu bolus. That made all the difference for Carson.
- Supporting the immune system and using anti nausea remedies, we used holistic medicine that I found from this website. This medicine is called Paxxin (intestinal support) and Vibactra (Immune system support and anti-nausea) we HIGHLY recommend both of these homeopathic treatments for the support of your dog. We ordered the medicine from Amazon and received it on Prime 2 day shipping. Parvo Virus Combo Pack – Parvaid and Vibactra Plus by Amber Technology , if you don’t have 2 days to wait, start calling local pet stores and see if you can find it from someone local! I clearly remember running out to the UPS van and grabbing the package. Don’t wait to start administering this! Use them both until your dog is fully healed. The Vibactra is incredible at boosting the immune system fast.
- Hydration boost from the vet, we were able to take our puppy back to the vet on day 3 and get a bolus of subcutaneous fluids pumped into him. Most vets should be willing to do this for your dog. It’s not an admission to the hospital so less expensive. They had us bring Carson in the back door into isolation at lunch time when the vets were out and so were the other patients. (Yeah, they don’t want this disease spread!). The bolus of sub cu fluids helped our puppy immensely. It will also give you a bit of relief from syringing fluids down your dog. Carson was only 4 pounds. You need to make all this work for whatever dog you are supporting. Canine parvo recovery is all about the dog and whatever it needs.
- The vet also prescribed a triangulation of antibiotics to attack Carson’s pneumonia as well as help with the Parvo. Carson brought a REALLY bad case of hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms from Texas. He was given Strongid to evacuate the worms before he was diagnosed with Parvo and had to be re-wormed several times over several weeks to completely get rid of them.
- These secondary issues almost killed him. This is often the case with Parvo. Canine Parvo weakens a pup and allows other secondary conditions to worsen and kill even after the Parvo is conquered.
- Food, when our puppy was finally ready to eat, we started him on a really bland diet of plain rice and chicken. We even blended it up and syringed some down his throat. As soon as he was able to start keeping food down, his condition improved immensely. We also got a hold of some local goat milk and kefir, this is great if you can get some to build the digestive tract back up again!
We continued to administer the Paxxin and Vibactra at home in addition to the MASSIVE number of pills the vet prescribed. These homeopathic supports were amazingly restorative. Within two weeks Carson’s lung ex ray showed miraculous healing! His lungs were all clear with NO SCARRING. He came back to full health over the next several months. We attribute the exceptional recovery in part to these supports.
Medical Support NOTE: Carson’s Doc really had NO hope we could save our pup so he was hands off other than prescribing the Tamiflu. And yet. Carson would NOT have made it without the vet clinic support. The vet techs stepped up and administered fluids and advise. We are very grateful for their help and highly recommend you get as much support from your vet clinic as you can. The vet was AMAZED Carson made a full recovery!
Here is a video of how our puppy Carson, is doing 2 1/2 years after the infection.
He is fully recovered with no lung scarring or long term ill effects from the Parvo or Pneumonia. Find hope here!
I sincerely hope that some of the information above is a help in your canine parvo recovery attempt to save your pet at home. That being said, please remember that Parvo is a very serious viral infection that often does not end well. Every pet will have a different circumstance, and ability to fight off this disease. We have only encountered Parvo once (and I hope we don’t ever see it again!) but we would use the same treatment method if we had another dog in our care that was ill from the Parvo virus.
Parvo is HIGHLY INFECTIOUS: YOU MUST DISINFECT after this disease finishes. PREVENT all puppies and unimmunized dogs from entering the home or yard for at least TWO YEARS. We were fortunate Carson’s housemates were fully immunized and adults with good natural strength and immunity.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be healthcare advice, veterinary or medical diagnosis, treatment or prescribing of any kind. Additionally, none of this information should be considered a promise of benefits, a claim of cures, a legal warranty or a guarantee of results to be achieved. This information is not intended as a substitute for advice from your pet’s veterinarian or any other healthcare provider.