Parvovirus is one of the most devastating diseases that can infect your puppy. Parvovirus, or parvo as it’s more commonly known, attacks the digestive system of your puppy, killing off the small villi in the stomach and intestines, causing severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and the inability to retain nutrients. Puppies can survive parvo, but only if it is caught early on and treated quickly. Caring for a puppy with parvo can take considerable time and effort, but having a happy, healthy puppy is well worth the effort.
Take your puppy to the veterinarian as soon as you notice any signs of illness such as vomiting or lethargy. Parvo is a very fast-acting virus and your puppy can die if it is not treated promptly. Your vet will treat the puppy with intravenous fluids and medication, and send him home with you for further care.
Set up your pup’s crate in an easy to clean area such as the bathroom. Puppies with parvo often vomit and have recurring diarrhea, so the fewer surfaces to wipe down the easier cleaning up after him will be.
Line his crate with an old blanket and a few puppy training pads. The training pads will catch the majority of the mess and the blanket will make your puppy more comfortable while in the crate. Make sure the blanket is one you do not want to keep, as you will need to throw it away once your puppy recovers.
Offer your puppy a bowl of Gatorade or Pedialyte. Puppies with parvo often suffer from dehydration, and both of these drinks are full of vitamins and electrolytes that will help your puppy stabilize and begin the healing process. If he will not drink it readily, fill a large syringe with the liquid and force feed him by injecting small amounts into his mouth.
Feed your puppy small amounts of baby food as soon as he shows interest in food. Parvo suppresses the appetite and most puppies will not want to eat for a day or two, so don’t be discouraged if he refuses. Offer him a spoonful of baby food at a time, gently opening his mouth and placing the food on his tongue until he learns to lick it from the spoon himself. As he shows more appetite, add in a few handfuls of his normal food with the baby food every day until he resumes his normal feeding routine.
Disinfect the entire area as soon as your puppy shows no more signs of illness. Throw away the blanket and wipe down any surfaces that your puppy came in contact with. A kennel disinfectant purchased from your local pet store or vet’s office is designed to kill off germs and the parvovirus and will help prevent any other pets from becoming infected.
Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap after handling your puppy. Parvo cannot be transmitted to humans but you can spread the virus throughout your home if you are not careful.
Never allow a sick puppy to come in contact with your other healthy pets. The parvovirus is highly contagious and can quickly infect entire households if proper precautions are not taken. Isolate your puppy as soon as you notice signs of illness and get him to the vet as soon as possible.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.