Parvo: the Deadly Disease and How to Treat It Naturally
Parvovirus is highly contagious and one of the most difficult diseases to treat. The mortality rate of parvo is about 80%. Having three puppies exposed to parvovirus and saving two puppies, I would like to share my experience, hoping that it will help others facing the life and death horror of parvo. This article is dedicated to the precious angel we lost due to the deadly parvovirus, Kazan-chan.
Early diagnosis of parvo is very important as the sooner one recognizes the infection, the less difficult it is to treat the infected dog. The diagnosis can be based on the signs and symptoms or via blood or stool tests performed by a veterinarian. The signs and symptoms are:
The puppy might vomit clear fluid, mucus, or yellowish fluid.
In the early stage of the infection, the stool is watery looks like “rice water”. It has a foul-smell. There will also be mucus as well as blood in the stool. Later, the stool will turn to a dark brown/maroon color, a definite indication of hemorrhage.
Loss of Appetite
The puppy will stop eating for 5-7 days, but may possibly drink water on his or her own.
The puppy will prefer dark places to hide and will sleep for hours and hours. He/she will look very weak and dehydrated.
Loss of weight
He/she will lose a considerable amount of weight, and there will be fat and muscle wasting.
The normal body temperature of a puppy varies from 99 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, fever will appear at the onset of parvo.
Usually the conjunctiva would look red.
These symptoms usually last for 5 to 7 days. However, the critical goal is keep the puppy properly hydrated:
Stop the vomiting
Anti-emetics can be used to stop vomiting. Administering medications or food will be very difficult if the puppy vomits. Honey, ginger, cloves, lemon, and nux vomica, are natural anti-emetics. However, you have to be careful of the dosage since lemon, ginger, and cloves might increase the risk of gastritis and ulcers if the puppy is not eating. If you cannot stop the vomiting, it is advisable to get a veterinarian’s help to stop the vomiting.
Stop the bloody diarrhea
A drop of sangre de drago (dragon’s blood) internally will stop internal bleeding. It can be given about 4-5 times a day if the bleeding doesn’t stop.
Rehydrate the puppy
Food and Water
What can you feed the puppy?
You can feed the puppy rice and chicken broth. Assimilation can be encouraged by adding 2-3 clove buds into what you cook. Usually, the puppy will not eat on his own. So one can use a 3 cc or 5 cc syringe. If there is profuse vomiting, do not feed him more than 1 cc at a time. Feeding the puppy every 30-45 minutes is essential. The syringe can contain a mixture of herbs and food.
Rehydration is critical since the puppy is losing fluid because of the vomiting and diarrhea [and fever].
In order to maintain the electrolyte balance, up to 100 ml of Ringer’s lactate solution can be given every 10- 12 hours, intravenously, intraperitoneally or subcutaneously. A dextrose solution can also be given every 10 -12 hours. The purpose of giving dextrose is to provide energy to the cells and to prevent hypoglycemia. The IV solutions should be body temperature and should be warmed in hot water, not a microwave oven.
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Being a viral disease, natural antiviral and immune boosting herbs work well on parvo. The most important herbs you can use are a decoction of cat’s claw, guduchi, and licorice with a drop of thyme essential oil in it.
Preparation of the decoction:
6-7 small pieces of cat’s claw
½ teaspoon of guduchi powder
½ teaspoon of licorice powder
Add 1 cup of distilled water and boil everything for about 10-15 minutes. Strain the decoction and let it cool down to room temperature. Add one drop of medicinal grade organic thyme essential oil after the mixture has cooled.
Give 1 cc of the decoction orally to the puppy every 45 minutes. Cat’s claw is an immune system stimulant.
You can also add 0.5 cc of diluted shilajit every 2 hours since shilajit also helps to boost immunity and is strengthening for the puppy. Shilajit is high in minerals and is a potent antioxidant.
In order to stop the bloody diarrhea, you can also add 2 drops of sangre de grado to the decoction.
You can also give an enema with 2 cc of aloe vera with activated charcoal. This can be done every 6 hours. It will also soothe the ulcerated gastrointestinal mucosa. The enema fluids should also be body temperature.
The virus can also infect the heart, leading to inflammation of heart muscle, poor function, and arrhythmias. Hence, protecting the puppy’s heart with hibiscus and/or arjuna is important. I added two drops of Sacred Medicine Sanctuary’s Hibiscus Elixir with the antiviral decoction.
It’s also important to wash the puppies frequently to remove the virus from fur. You can add ½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a bowl of warm water. The best method for laundering doggie blankets is to disinfect them and also to add some apple cider vinegar to the load when washing. You can also use UV lights for disinfecting the doggie blankets and misting with eucalyptus can be helpful.
Since the virus can remain for months in the yard and in the house and can infect the other puppies, disinfecting the yard and the house with disinfectant or with essential oil such as cinnamon or thyme is critical.
If the puppy has enough strength, he will probably recover within 3-5 days. However, the usual recovery time is 5-7 days. After successful effort, the puppy will probably resume an interest in food on the 6th or 7th day. When he starts eating, it is best to give him chicken broth with tiny pieces of chicken and gradually phase in semi-solid and solid food.
Many blessings and my personal prayers for the healing of your puppies!
Dr. Indunil Weerarathne
BAMS (Hons), University of Colombo
MSc Infectious Diseases (reading), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Genji-chan and Suenya, the survivors of the nasty parvovirus
Special gratitude to Dr. Ingrid Naiman for all her support and love. With thanks to Dr. Ricardo Rodriguez for his many house calls and diagnostic assistance. Also special thanks to Dr. Gigi Gaulin, DVM, and Dr. Sandra Priest, DVM, for their encouragement when the puppies were hanging on by a thread.