This can be a very serious question, and one that may lead into a quagmire of information that can not only be difficult to sort through but emotionally hard to handle. Canine Parvovirus is a very serious condition and not one that should be taken lightly. Below we will discuss the symptoms of parvo and how to tell if its time for the vet, or home treatment if you cannot afford a vet.
The signs and symptoms of canine parvovirus can include the following:
- Bloody Diarrhea (Often quite severe)
- Lack of energy or Lethargy.
- General Malaise or Discomfort.
- Vomiting (A lot…)
- Quick Weight Loss.
- Having little to no Appetite.
Alright, so those are the signs but not all may appear at once and generally its better to diagnose earlier rather than later as Parvovirus is a virulent virus. I will now go over each of the symptoms and exactly what they mean as well as other causes for them.
Your Dog or Puppy has Bloody Diarrhea.
So you wake up to a puddle resembling chocolate milk or perhaps a little darker if there is blood present, what does this mean? Well it can mean a few things, diarrhea alone is not a sign of parvo. Though it is one of the key symptoms that let us know something is going on. It is usually an osmotic imbalance that causes it, too many food molecules will cause excess water to be drawn into the intestine thus causing watery stool. It can also be caused by an intestinal infection causing over secretion.
Again I cannot stress enough that diarrhea alone is not proof your dog or puppy has parvo, but it is a key indicator to look further. If blood is present in the stool THAT may be a further indicator of parvo as it does serious damage to the intestinal wall and bleeding does occur.
Other than parvo what can cause my dog to have diarrhea? Below is a list of things that can also cause diarrhea and bloody diarrhea in your pet.
Other causes for diarrhea in my dog.
- Sudden Changes in Diet
- A Hypersensitive digestive tract
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Pancreatic disease
- Viral infection (This would be parvo or a few others)
- Rickettsial (This is a type of bacterial infection that is acquired from fleas, ticks, etc)
- A Fungal infection
- Addison’s disease (This is when the adrenal glands are less active than normal)
- Eating refuse from around the house (IE.. eating the trash or bad or spoiled food)
So what can I do to help with diarrhea?
Often vets will recommend avoiding foods for 12-24 hrs while the animal is suffering from diarrhea, though liquids MUST be given as dehydration is probable if not certain with diarrhea present. Personally i have found that giving a small amount of white rice combined with some well boiled white meat chicken (Mashed together) is best for recovery.
If you pet presents with constant diarrhea for more than 24hrs or his or her condition worsens it is highly recommended to see a vet in your area immediately.
Lack of energy or lethargy, General Malaise or Discomfort in your puppy or dog
Another sign that your puppy or dog may have parvo is a lack of energy, usually due to undernourishment and dehydration. Although distemper can also present this way, distemper will show with a discharge from eyes nose and a cough.
Illnesses that can present as lethargy or lack of energy.
- Parvovirus – A Virus that can be spread through feces and contact with infected fluids.
- Distemper – A virus that is highly contagious and often fatal its primary transmission is airborne particles.
- Kennel Cough – A very contagious respiratory disease, with the primary symptom being a dry loud cough.
- Heartworm Disease – Can be caused by mosquitoes, 1 in 200 dogs contract heart worm by age 2. Always use Heart-guard or a similar product.
- Organic and metabolic diseases can also account for lethargy or depression. Just a few are Heart disease, Liver disease, Diabetes Mellitus and Hypoglycemia to name a few.
- Medication can cause lethargy, one of the most notable is Ibuprofen which is extremely toxic to your animal. If you think your pet has consumed any medications it should not have please call Animal Poison Control at (888)426-4435 or call your local vet.
Now a lack of energy again by itself is not an indicator of Parvo in combination with other key symptoms we have listed and will list it begins to build a picture of whats going on in your animal.
Sudden and acute vomiting in your puppy or dog.
There may well be more causes of vomiting in dogs than there are dogs, but in combination with the aforementioned symptoms it may well be a precursor to parvovirus. Below I will list just a few of the reasons your pet may suddenly start vomiting.
What could cause vomiting in my puppy or dog?
- A Bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract of the animal.
- Foreign bodies in the gastrointestinal tract
- Parasites in the intestine
- Acute kidney failure
- Gall bladder inflammation or Liver failure.
- Ingestion of toxic substances
- Viral infections
- Certain medications or anesthetic agents
- Car sickness
- Infected uterus
- Diet-related causes.
Now if your dog has a few isolated occurrences of vomiting it may not be any cause to worry, although frequent or even chronic vomiting is certainly a reason to get to a vet right away.
And not to be repetitive but vomiting alone is NOT a diagnosis of parvo, far from it.. But added to our symptom list it is another key indicator.
Sudden onset weight loss or anorexia.
Now this is caused by the underlying issues of being unable to keep food down, dehydration and general malaise. Again there are a ton of reasons your dog or puppy could be loosing weight and parvo is just one of a hundred reasons but when we combine it with our other key indicators it points to a larger issue.
Why is my dog loosing weight and has no appetite?
- Undernourishment – This would be parvo or just poor nutrition in general. A lack of decent nutrition can be indicated by a dull lifeless coat, extra layers of fat, bathroom issues and poor dental condition.
- Diabetes – Pretty much the same as humans, the inability to absorb sugar due to low insulin can cause increased appetite while still loosing weight.
- Mouth Sores – sometimes it just hurts too much to eat, visit your vet if this persists
- Is your dog pregnant? – Nauseous periods at the beginning of the pregnancy can lead to weight loss.
- Liver Disease – Devoid of essential sugars and carbs provided by the liver the dig does not get crucial nutrients that he or she may need to survive thus forcing him or her to burn fat from the body to survive.
- Parasites or Worms – Intestinal tapeworms is one of the most common reasons dogs loose weight, fortunately its also the easiest to handle.
- Anxiety – Stress can be a killer on appetite, especially separation stress. This can leave dogs not feeling safe enough to eat or anxious with their surroundings and too preoccupied to consume food.
Help, My dog has a fever. What does this mean?
Dogs and Puppies get a fever for the same reasons humans do, though the normal body temp for a dog is between 101 and 102.5 Degrees as compared to us humans at 97 to 99 Degrees. So even though he may feel “Warm” to you as his temp is normally higher than ours it may be perfectly fine.
Some symptoms of high fever in dogs (Also a symptom of parvo.) are as follows.
- Loss of appetite.
- Discharge from the Nose.
- Generally depressed.
The easiest way to tell if your dog has a fever is to take his or her temperature. Of course in a dog this done rectally this can be done with a special thermometer made specifically for this purpose. Thermometers made for humans will not work as well or at all in these situations. First you must coat the thermometer with a lubricant, you can use baby oil or petroleum jelly. Next you must insert the thermometer about one inch into your dogs rectum and wait for a result. Usually less than a minute.
If you dog has a temperature of more than 103F its time to call the vet anything above 105F should be considered a dire emergency.
Once again I must stress that a fever alone is not a sign of parvo.. but when we mix it with Bloody Diarrhea, Vomiting, Lethargy, Lack of appetite and Weight Loss its certain that something bigger is going on and its time for treatment.
Is my dog dehydrated? What can I do?
A simple way to determine if you dog is dehydrated is to check yourself with the elasticity of his skin. Simply pinch the skin behind his head between his shoulder blades and pull up a bit. Upon releasing it should snap back into position immediately without hesitation, if it hesitates or does not return to place its a strong chance your dog is dehydrated. Some other symptoms of dehydration are as follows.
Symptoms of dehydration in dogs and puppies.
- Loss of skin elasticity.
- Sunken and dry looking eyes.
- Constant panting.
- Reduced energy or lethargy.
- Dry gums.
- Dry Nose.
So what can I do to help hydrate my pup or dog?
- Place fresh clean water bowls in a few areas of your home that your dog frequents.
- Give your dog Pedialyte or Gatorade this will bring his or her electrolyte levels up.
- Some dogs will readily drink beef or bone broth, give it to them several times a day if needed.
- Some animals will gladly chew on some ice cubes or chips, this will help with hydration.
- Wet food, though not a straight liquid does contain water which will help.
So does my dog or puppy have parvovirus?
Only a test preformed by your vet can tell 100% if your dog or pup is infected with Canine Parvovirus, but by knowing the symptoms we can asses the need for veterinary care sooner and perhaps save a life. If your dog has three or more of the symptoms we have listed here you are recommended to take him or her to the vet as soon as possible. Parvovirus is treatable at home but the survival rates are as follows.
Survival rate of parvovivrus depending on treatment.
- Dogs left untreated and left to themselves have a 85% mortality rate.
- Dogs cared for at home with fluids have a 50% mortality rate
- Dogs cared for at home with Fluids, Nutrient Pastes and Antibiotics have a 20% mortality rate
- Dogs taken to the vet for long term inpatient care (A week or so) Have between a 10% and 15% mortality rate.
My Story fighting parvovirus…
Parvovirus is a vicious disease that can kill a dog in 2-5 days if left untreated, it strikes quickly and can have your household upside down for more than a week. I know first hand, I brought home a puppy (Great Dane) That I got from a woman on Craigslist (I know.. I know..) and that puppy had parvo. Being a single father with three kids and a now very sick little puppy I did not have the $1000-$2000 for a vet to remedy the situation. I was forced to handle it myself.
After a week of feeding fluids and nutrient gels and antibiotics, after cleaning everything in my home everyday using one of the few cleaners that actually kills parvo Rescue One Vet Strength Cleaner And it also come in Wipes, after five sleepless nights and work-less days and the Help of Amber Technology’s Parvo Virus Combo Pack (Available for Prime Overnight Shipping) our little pup Sadie ate one single kibble and I cried. We made it… She was going to survive, we had saved her life. Today she is a bright and energetic six month old puppy playing and thriving. So you see I know what your going through, because I have been there…
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