The Georgia Shih Tzu

Parvo Virus

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What is Parvo?
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2016
Parvo is a virus that affects dogs only. It is highly contagious, causes severe damage and kills more puppies than adults. This does not mean it is less likely to affect an adult, but an adult is more likely to survive. Parvo kills the cells in the intestinal track which can cause vomiting, weakness, loss of appetite, and diarrhea that is usually bloody. In new puppies it can affect the heart or nervous system, in some cases, leading to a fast and sudden death. Parvo is spread by infected dogs that may or may not show signs of being carriers. Parvo can survive as long as nine months in the environment. It can be contracted by coming into contact with infected feces, on clothing, shoes and skin that has come in contact with an infected dog and can lay dormant in carpets, rugs, furniture and draperies that have come in contact with an infected dog for up to two years. It can survive in the grass of your yard for one year. The only way to kill the virus in the environment is with chlorine bleach. Parvo can be contracted by dogs that never leave home. Parvo is not airborne, but as it is carried from place to place by other life, all dogs are at risk. No yard is free from additional wildlife and any animal, possibly including birds, rodents, and cats, can pass the virus into an otherwise clean yard. Again, these animals are not affected by parvo, but carry it on their skin and coats. Anyone who believes they have come in contact with the virus should wash all clothes, shoes and hands in bleach.
Recently the United States has been attacked by a new, modified strain of Parvo called the F strain. It is believed to be the 7th mutation of the virus and is deadlier than it's parent. It is possible for the new strain to be airborne, but as I have been unsuccessful in finding a vet site containing a study of the new strain, I am placing all information I come across as rumor. I can tell you that symptoms are accelerated to the point that fragile dogs could die within a day of contracting the new strain, there is no incubation period. The current vaccines on the market will not protect your dog and there is no other prevention known, except for avoidance, at this time. I am also told it is possible for a recovered dog to contract the virus again and again. Avoid dog parks, pet stores, and other meeting places until more is known about the new strain. I know that it is common practice and a comfort to take your dog everywhere, but at this time, I strongly urge you to be very careful where you take your dog, where they walk and who you allow to touch your dog. If you are in an area of questionable sanitation, or around a large amount of animals, please clean all your clothes and shoes in bleach before you go near your dog. Clean your car and everywhere you have stepped. There is no cure and there is rarely time for treatment. I am told that the virus is prevalent in Texas, Georgia and Louisiana, but I have only heard of breakouts in Texas, so far. I realize how scary this may be if you are unfamiliar with Parvo, but the truth is the only road to prevention. Unvaccinated puppies are like an interstate for Parvo. Puppies are not as resilient as babies and more likely to die, simply, from an unwillingness to live. A puppy is less likely to be able to cope with the therapy necessary to keep them hydrated and the separation necessary to keep the virus from spreading. Many will die from loneliness. Despite what you may have heard, puppies can survive, though they may have serious health problems in the future.

Testing and Treatment

First indications happen at home. Look for bloody diarrhea and vomiting, but also look for both without the blood. Not all dogs pass blood. Your dog will be listless or lethargic and not react well to you or what is happening around her. She will smell funny, it is very hard to describe her smell, but it will not be her normal smell and it is not a flatulence smell, but it does stink. If you can get to a vet now is the time to go, if not then you can skip the next paragraph and work to save her at home, but she must have 24 hour care.
Parvo tests are administered by a special cotton tipped applicator that is inserted into the dog/puppy's rectum to obtain a sample of cells from the rectal lining. This is then placed into a solution and a portion of the mix is placed into a test kit. Diagnosis is based on a change of color in the paper used in the kit. Companies making these tests boast a 99.9% accuracy. Please do not believe the numbers. Dogs/puppies in the early stages of the viral infection may not show positive for parvo in testing. I have heard from enough people, whose dogs test negative, yet die, and pass the virus they are carrying to other dogs who then test positive, to realize that the tests are not as accurate as they boast. Parvo scares me as much as anyone whom has come into contact with it's affects. I have had many neighbors warn me over the years that it has come into their household and I have spent many sleepless nights consoling owner's whose puppies are confined to a cage in a vet's office fighting for it's life. I have been currently blessed to avoid such devastation in my own home, but I am on constant watch for when my blessings run out. A very good friend of mine, whose last few months have been very tragic, has begged me to spread the lesson she has learned about this virus. The first step to take if your dog has diarrhea that you cannot immediately explain or is throwing up, go straight to your vet and ask for Parvo testing. If the test comes back negative and the dog's symptoms are relative to the virus have the test repeated in one to two days. Do not believe negative results as perfectly accurate as this will lessen your dog's chance of survival. A negative test should, at least, encourage you to keep a watchful eye on your dog for the nest two days for any other signs. If a second Parvo test comes back negative, have the dog tested for Corona virus, whose symptoms are the same. Next, you have three choices. You can try an herbal, liquid supplement that I have only found online at the moment, leave your dog at the vet for treatment or bring your dog home and give him the same care your vet would; probably better. If you have an extremely good relationship with your vet they may actually let you try the supplement while under your vet's observation. I have not had to use the product myself and I believe it is fairly new. It is called Parvoguard. It can be purchased at:

Herbal Love

For those in such financial straights as to be unable to afford the vet visit or the test, the first step for nursing puppies is to start with a salt and sugar solution:
  • Fill 1/2 c hottest tap water
  • Add 1 tsp clear corn syrup ~ stir to dissolve
  • Add 1/8 tsp salt~ stir to dissolve
  • Cool and dropper feed.
**The water should have a funny metallic tinge and not taste like sugar. Dropper feed as often as the pup should be nursing until it nurses on its own.** Do not wait to see bloody diarrhea or vomiting before treating a weak puppy. Should the other signs present themselves, follow this page to the bottom where I discuss non veterinary means of nourishing through parvo. For adults start with corn syrup. Give one tsp per 10 lbs twice a day. If you have to continue past two days and have not seen other signs, switch to nutrical. When other signs manifest themselves treat accordingly. Dehydration is easy to tell by grabbing the skin and pinching it. If it sticks in place your dog is dehydrated and you need to force more fluids. Checking the neck is the easiest, but I have an older dog whose neck always sticks due to age so I have to find other areas to check before I worry. Their skin would stick everywhere if they are truly dehydrated. Once you see bloody diarrhea and vomiting, you know you have parvo. Near then end of this article there are natural methods you may try at home without the aide or expense of a vet should you be unable to do so. Please also take the time to read the rest of the article for the precautions you must take to keep from spreading the disease.
The one who told me about this had Parvo hit her home hard and she lost many puppies before parvoguard was shipped to her home. Once she had it and was able to administer it to her remaining dogs the attacks ceased. It is administered orally as the bottle recommends. If your dogs are already sick you will want to try to have it shipped next day air, if possible. If your dogs have come into contact with it recently, you have between 10 and 21 days before the symptoms will start. I still recommend you order it immediately and start your dogs on it as soon as it arrives. I do not know how long you will need to keep administering it, but you will need to disinfect your home completely while you are treating. Please remember that I do not have experience with this virus and have not had to care for an infected dog. My information comes from friends and readers who have contacted me after having dealt with it. Should you decide to bring your dog home, I have been blessed with an email from one of my viewers who has recently been through this ordeal. With her vet's approval she brought her dog home and she survived. Please let me repeat that, she did survive! The following are her instructions and my notes are in bold:
  • Most important; keep your dog hydrated. She did not want to eat or drink. We gave her pedialyte (recommended by the vet) and would fill up a syringe (the ones you use to give babies medicine) and would use that. Each time adding a little bit more. I would do this every two hours. If she refused I did not force her. My further recommendation is to feed the syrup solution I have above and rotate with the pedialyte... so, first syrup then 2 hours later pedialyte then two hours later syrup.
  • After the first day she ate nothing, but I constantly gave her pedialyte and the antibiotics the vet gave her. If you cannot afford antibiotics administer either Pepto Bismol 1 tsp per 20lbs every 4-6 hours (so a 5lb puppy would need 1/4 tsp), Pepcid AC at 1mg per 5lbs 1-2 times a day or Kaopectate at 1 tsp per 10lbs every four hours. They may throw it up, but keep trying and never increase the dosage or the amount of times you give it. Just keep trying as I have directed. The second day I added canned food to the pedialyte, keeping it watered down enough to feed her through the syringe. If you cannot get canned food you may add 1 part hard food to 2 parts boiled water and let sit until mushy. Continue to add more water until very runny. I continued this for 5 days slowly increasing the amounts. During this time I only saw slight improvement, but did not give up.
  • If you are breeding and trying to save a puppy who has not weaned, do not add canned food, but 1 part water to 1 part evaporated whole goat milk to the pedialyte as the canned additive is too hard for the stomach and will do more damage.
  • If you feel that the thicker formula is not keeping her hydrated, you may convert a small amount of your feedings to just pedialyte, not all, or you are not feeding every two hours, as recommended and need to really feed her every two hours. This will not decrease until she is more active and less hungry.
  • **Keep your dog confined from all other dogs. At the same time, I spent a lot of time with her, holding and comforting her. I made sure she was comfortable.
  • **Anything used to care for the dog may be washed in very hot water with double laundry soap and 2-3 caps full of bleach (this should not ruin your clothes). Keep your dog in a room that can be cleaned (not carpeted); only bleach can kill the virus.
  • **Use plastic gloves to handle the sick dog.
  • **Don't let your dog relieve itself outside, because the virus will stay in your lawn/dirt. I used a diaper. The vet was actually very impressed with this idea and chose to do it with the dogs that were at the vet office at the time. Using a diaper kept a lot of the mess confined. As the dog improved she stopped throwing up so I only had to deal with the feces, which is where the diaper came in very handy. The diapers I used were for human babies. The dog diapers were much more expensive. I cut a whole in the middle of the diaper for her tail. To dispose use a garbage can outside sprayed with bleach then add a garbage bag and spray before adding a new diaper and after then seal the bag well before having it picked up so you do not infect other animals. Spray the garbage can again and allow to air dry before normal usage.
This experience was one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. Your puppy/dog will be very tired and look like they are about to die. They are in a lot of pain and every time they throw up or go to the bathroom they do cry. The best thing, for me, was I did not give up and worked very hard to save our puppy. It was worth it. She recovered after 7 days. I am very grateful that this person took the time to email me and with such hope to offer. I have also been able to find a few other remedies that has been suggested in the last couple of years that owners say have worked for them. Understand that if you are catching symptoms too late you will probably not be able to save the dog, but there is no reason to not try if you feel you have a chance.

Natural Home Treatments

Goat milk is the first suggestion and was made by an older gentleman who had been raising dogs most of his life. By rotating feedings from goat milk to pedialyte they have never lost a puppy to parvo. For weaned puppies and dogs it is suggested to feed raw eggs. They will not eat on their own so a large mouth syringe is necessary. The eggs will help keep their energy level up and is too gentle to cause them to throw it back up in most cases. Just be sure you are feeding liquids in between as dehydration is the biggest worry. I am also told that feeding goat milk yogurt will also keep their system in check while goat milk with nutmeg fed in between will help with the nausea and dehydration. Pepto Bismol is another option, but I am more likely to move toward more natural means when they are available.
There are many fights among internet communities between whether or not to treat at home or go to the vet. I have nothing against veterinarians. They can be expensive and they can also be well worth the trip. You have to follow your instincts and if you simply cannot find the funds to pay a vet, there is no harm in trying all you can to save your pet. If you do see a vet, be sure you bring your dog back home (IF POSSIBLE) as your constant care will increase her chances of survival. Staying alone at the vet may cause her to die of despair. I have been there myself and it does not matter what any one else thinks. There is no shame in having insufficient income, only in not doing all you can despite the financial handicap. I am here for anyone in all situations and I will not judge your reasons. Please keep in mind that you cannot save every animal; that is the law of survival of the fittest. Many will die regardless of what treatment was given and there is no use blaming anyone for your loss. Nature and God (depending on your beliefs) control that aspect and we can only do our best to plead otherwise. Be careful to only place blame when nothing was done. There are many that simply do not have the time to give to a sick puppy. Make the best decision you can for your dog and let what everyone else tells you go in one ear and out the other. How you handle the virus, should it cross your path, is your choice. I only want to ensure you have a choice to make and your dog may very well live. If, no matter what you do, your dog/puppy does not survive, you have at least done all within your power and that is all anyone can ask.


Clean up is the most important stage, no matter the outcome of the virus. If your dog survived you want to ensure you won't have a repeat episode. If not, I really am very sorry and wish I could have changed the result of your labors. I know how distressing it is to have to let go and it never gets easier. Regardless, you have much work ahead of you. Parvo can live in your home for up to 7 months and in your yard for up to 5 months. Weather does not affect the virus so cleaning is always a necessity. To clean your home you must destroy or wash every fabric you or your dog came in contact with. The items to be cleaned will determine how well you managed to keep from spreading the virus to other parts of your home. Wash these items with 30% bleach to 70% hot water. The good news is that color-safe bleach works just as well, but the mix should be 10% color-safe bleach to 90% hot water. Remember your clothes (hopefully you managed to keep your sickroom clothes separate from your everyday clothes) draperies, blankets, carpets, hard floors, shoes, towels, and furniture. Your sickroom clothes, dog's bedding, toys and food/water bowls should all be thrown out; it is too risky to try to clean them. Do not try to save anything your dog has thrown up or bled on. You may use the color-safe bleach mix in your steam cleaner to clean your carpets and furniture. The EPA has approved a few disinfectants that will kill the virus and and can be heavily sprayed directly onto your carpet and furniture or added to your steam cleaner. Make sure you saturate the carpet enough to soak the paddingRead the bottle, as some must be diluted before use.
Your yard is the next stop. Pick up all feces and pour straight bleach onto all known defecating and urinating spots. It will kill the grass, but is absolutely necessary. Next mix 10% bleach with 90% water and spray the entire yard and walkways in front of your home. If not treated properly the virus will live in patches and grow in your yard, infecting other animals or reinfecting your dog.