Will my dog get worse?
The answer no one wants to hear is “There’s no way to know for sure.”
Every dog going through parvo has ups and downs. However, the good news is there are ways to prevent them from getting worse and avoiding the downs all together.
1. CATCH IT EARLY
The earlier, the better. I knew my dog Alice was exposed and started her on all the prevention methods. The preventative method is all listed on my page Preventing Parvo. She had nothing more than lethargy and one or two small vomits.
The short of it is you want a gentle laxative to sweep the virus out of the intestines and an immune support for clearing it out of the lymph system.
For this, I usually use herbs like senna pod tea, slippery elm and aloe vera for clearing it out of the intestines and things like colloidal silver and parvaid and vibactra plus for immune system support.
2. DO NOT EVER LET THEM FILL THEMSELVES ON PROCESSED DOG FOOD
Every time I have ever seen, witnessed or heard about someones dog who has taken a dip for the worse it’s because the owners let their puppy eat wet dog food or kibble until full.
There’s a psychology behind this. We tend to equate food with nourishment and health. If we feel nauseated, a loved one will tell us to eat some crackers. If we have a cold loved ones make us chicken soup. We make the connection that food equals love. But NOT SO with dogs. This can and has the extreme potential to ruin your dogs progress.
Usually upon the first symptoms of parvo, we test to see if our puppy will eat. We offer them food and they reject it. Their immune system is going through a fight that is losing and winning all in the first 3 days. Later in the day, we try offering it again and they accept. We feel like “hurray! My dog is getting better!” and we let them eat until they are full, mistakenly thinking this is helping them.
In the wild, wolves fast when sick. They do not burden their system with the requirements of digesting food and especially NOT kibble or canned food which is devoid of enzymes to help digest the food. We tend to not realize that the process of digestion is a very taxing job in of itself and even more when your dog is sick.
So I will say this again, you are not helping your dog, but in fact hurting him when you feed him until full if he is sick. It is hard to withhold food when your dog is sick, we feel mean. The dog doesn’t know the difference anyhow and for the greater good it is love to withhold the food.
Once your dog is notably feeling better, 3-4 days later in most cases, give them tiny amounts every other hour then every hour. Watching very closely to make sure it doesn’t start the vomiting cycle again.
3. KEEP THEM FROM VOMITING BY KEEPING THEM HYDRATED
If they don’t drink any water for more than a day and keep vomiting, they are likely already very dehydrated.
Signs of dehydration are pale gums and loss of skin elasticity. Pull up on their neck skin, if it takes longer than 3 seconds to snap back into place they are probably dehydrated. Or look at their gums, press the gums and if it takes more than 5 seconds to get pink again they are dehydrated.
Give them enemas or take to the vet to get sub q fluids. The cost varies for sub q, but usually it’s between 30$ and 60$ plus the visitation fee.
Never EVER force feed or force liquid. They can aspirate/choke. Water can get into their lungs and cause a secondary infection. Forcing liquid can also make them vomit even more it also dehydrates them further by vomiting more.
4. Be DILIGENT
You MUST follow the suggested dosing times for your dog to pull through parvo. There is no exception, if your dog is in the middle of parvo you must be there to dose EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR. Even through the night.
This is the second most common thing I see people fail at. They say they do “everything” but I ask them, are you dosing at night? Enemas through the night? Usually they say no, they are sleeping. More than likely your dog will not survive if you aren’t diligent on learning the symptoms, dosing and preventing dehydration.
Visit the page on Treating Parvo for dosing quantities/times.
5. MONITOR TEMPERATURE
Take frequent temp readings. Less than 99 degrees is cause for concern. Regular dogs temp is 101. Usually with parvo, they run hot. You may have to keep them cool will cool rags or towels. However, if they start to take a turn for the worse, if their body starts to shut down, their temp usually goes down too. You will have to keep them warm in this case for their organs to function properly.
It’s good to know your dogs regular heartbeat and what it feels like. Keep an eye on heart beat during parvo if you already have a sense of what your dogs regular heartbeat is like. A really fast and rapid heartbeat indicates liver or organ failure. In this case it is a good idea to take your dog to the emergency vet. A slow heartbeat means they are shutting down this is usually in junction with a low temperature. Warm them up with warm rags. It must be a “wet” heat, not a dry heat like a heat lamp. The rags will need to be warmed up constantly.
How to take your dogs temperature:
Take your digital thermometer and put a plastic thermometer cover on it. Lube the first inch with vaseline. Lift tail and insert into rectum about 1″ (small dog) or 2″ (large dog) wait 1-2 minutes. 99-102 normal range. Under 99 is concerning as well as anything above 103.
Its a full time job, I’m not going to lie. You or someone else MUST have 24 hour access to your dog. Choosing to treat your dog at home can be a living hell. It is excruciating if you are living alone/have no one to help. But I will take that over my beloved dog sitting in some stainless steel cage all alone and cold.
Keep positive, your dog can feel it. They can sense positivity or negativity and feeling like “he’s not going to make it” or ” what’s the use” is something they pick up on. It may not be the only reason they pull through or not, but it definitely helps to send those positive vibes over to them.
As hard as it is DO NOT CRY in front of them. DO NOT hold them and cry. It really does scare them, they feel your sorrow and become afraid themselves.
If all of the above is fulfilled, there really is a huge chance your dog will pull through and make it. However, everything must be followed to the T or the rates of success fall considerably.
Best Wishes to all of you fighting for your puppies and dogs. :)
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. Nothing on my blog is designed to be used in place of vet care. I am not responsible for any damages incurred on dogs by methods used improperly. Please exercise great caution when treating your dog at home.