Most of us would agree that there are few things more distressing than watching the family pet under the weather. Indeed, this scenario is worse still if the animal has become victim to the parvo virus, a contagious condition causing fatality in just a few days that mostly affects dogs.
A 2005 study undertaken at Cornell University in New York explained that parvo virus first appeared in 1978 and within two years had spread worldwide. Figures demonstrating the prevalence of the condition in the US are difficult to come by but the British animal charity, Pet Dispensary for Sick Animals, says that it has documented up to 300 cases of parvo in its pet hospitals per month. So what is parvo? As pet owners, what can we do to help our pet should they be diagnosed with this potentially fatal condition?
Causes of Parvo Disease-How Do Pets Catch Parvo?
The American Veterinary Medical Association explains that all dogs are at risk from parvo virus but that puppies less than four months old and dogs that have not been vaccinated against it are more prone to the virus.
The Association asserts that parvo is spread easily from one dog to another, as well as through contaminated cages, kennels, water bowls, collars and leashes. It can even be spread via dog owners' shoes, hands and clothes. Probably the most common way it is spread is through dog stool. What makes it particularly difficult to eradicate is that parvo virus is resistant to heat and cold.
A 2006 German study carried out at the Institute for Animal Hygiene and Veterinary Public Health, University of Leipzig, revealed that parvo is a new virus giving rise to new antigenic types and mutants. These include strains such as CPV 2 and its variants CPV-2a, CPV-2b, CPV-2c.
Symptoms of Parvo
Here's the bad news. A 2005 publication by researchers at The Californian Animal Hospital revealed that up to 80% of parvo cases in adult dogs have no symptoms.
The American Veterinary Medical Association explains that when we talk of parvo the classic symptoms are lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and severe, even bloody, diarrhea. Dehydration can occur as a result of the vomiting and diarrhea. Death from parvovirus generally takes place within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. Death is generally due to dehydration rather than the virus itself.
A1994 German study carried out at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitšt looked at the evolution of the virus which has two main strains, a cardiac and intestinal form. The common signs of the intestinal form are severe vomiting and dysentery. The cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies but this strain is less prevalent since many dogs are vaccinated against it.
10 Natural Ways to Treat Parvo
Science is increasingly revealing to us the natural remedies that can help treat parvo. Here we look at 10 of them.
However, most veterinary professionals would suggest that there is no better way to prevent parvo than to vaccinate your pet. Before administering home remedies please consult your veterinary health care provider for guidance on dosage and suitability of these remedies for your pet's particular case.
1. Vitamin C
A 2004 study carried out at Kansas State University found that a big dose of injectable B-complex vitamins given twice a week and at least 500 mg of vitamin C in liquid form twice a day is an important part of the treatment of parvovirus as it helps boost the animal's immune system.
Agrimonia, a genus of perennial plants in the family Rosaceae, soothes the inflamed membranes of the digestive tract according to a 1982 Bulgarian study carried out at University Hospital Stara Zagora and as such can be an effective healing agent for dogs with parvo virus.
3. Dry Ginger
A 1997 University of Florida study revealed at dry ginger has excellent anti-inflammatory effects which are important in dogs with illness such as parvovirus. The study revealed that dry ginger can be a substitute for aspirin-like (NSAID) drugs. The study also found that dry ginger has anti-emetic compounds which can calm the dog's stomach.
A 2003 German study carried out by Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg found that Echinacea had anti-inflammatory properties when administered to dogs. As such it is often administered to dogs to help reduce the intestinal inflammation associated with Parvo.
5. Omega 3 and Omega 6
A 1999 study carried out by University of Dayton, Ohio, found that a supplement of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids added to dogs diets strengthened the animals' immune systems noticeably in tests carried out over 60 days on younger and geriatric dogs and as such are important in helping the animals fight disease and get on the road to recovery.
6. Egg Yolk
A 2005 Japanese study undertaken by at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences discovered that the immunoglobulins derived from chicken egg yolk are effective in protecting dogs against the Canine Parvo Virus 2 strain. The study was carried out on 10 beagle dogs with the virus and found that those who were put on the treatment recovered quicker and had more noticeable weight gain after a seven day trial than the dogs who did not receive it.
A 2003 UK study carried out at Universities of Exeter and Plymouth found that Hawthorn extract has high antioxidant qualities to promote artery strength and overall health of the cardiovascular system and so is a useful homeopathic remedy for dogs with parvo virus.
A 2009 study carried out at Procter & Gamble Pet Care Technical Center, North Lewisburg, Ohio, found that dogs with acute diarrhea could be treated effectively with probiotics, in this case canine-derived probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis strain AHC7. Probiotics in dogs function as they do in humans, as friendly bacteria that help restore healthy flora in the gut and intestinal tract.
9. Healthy human-animal bond
The 1997 University of Florida study concluded that a healthy human-animal bond is essential for a healthy pet and for effective pet recuperation after illness. The study also suggested that it is a good idea to 'practice' manipulations on a regular, daily basis which could help alleviate the animal's stress during bouts of sickness.
10. Effective sanitation
A 2008 publication by the American Vetenary Medical Association highlighted the importance of cleanliness and proper sanitation procedures, such as regular changing of clothes and frequent washing of hands as a critical way to prevent the spread of parvo virus.