How Do I Know If My Puppy Will Survive Parvo?

If your puppy has just been diagnosed with parvo, you are likely overwhelmed with questions on what’s to come.

Parvo is a terrifying diagnosis for a pet owner to receive, especially if you do not fully understand the details of the condition.

As your pup works their way through this illness, you may find yourself questioning whether or not they will make it through.

In this article we will aim to explain the survival rate of parvo in puppies, and how you can best help your pup through this illness.

What Is Parvo In Dogs?

How Do I Know If My Puppy Will Survive Parvo

Parvovirus is a life-threatening gastrointestinal virus seen in our canine friends.

Parvo invades a dog’s digestive tract the moment they are exposed to the virus, causing the most damage to the stomach and small intestine.

While all we may see through observation is severe GI upset, there is a complex process occurring within the dog’s body.

Parvo in dogs destroys cells in the digestive tissues, attacks the lining of the intestinal tract, prevents proper absorption of nutrients, and even invades lymphatic tissues.

The impact of these actions is what makes parvo so deadly in our canine friends, as a dog will deteriorate rapidly if we don’t intervene from the moment symptoms begin.

Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can survive anywhere from 3-4 years in the environment, meaning it’s easily spread in unvaccinated dogs.

Parvo is found in every corner of the globe, so you can expect your dog to be exposed at some point. This is why vaccination is so important.

How Do Puppies Get Parvo?

Dogs can get parvo through direct contact with an infected dog, contaminated waste (stool or vomit), or a contaminated surface.

As we mentioned above, parvovirus can persist in an environment for years if it is not cleaned properly. This means a dog can be exposed long after the infected dog was present in an area, and there is no way for you to know.

Puppies are most at risk of being infected with parvo between the age of 6 weeks to 8 months of age. This is when the mother’s antibodies will begin to wear off in your pup, making them vulnerable to viruses in the world around them.

What Are The Signs Of Parvo In Puppies?

Parvovirus in dogs will cause serious damage to a dog’s digestive tract, meaning most of the symptoms displayed will involve some form of gastrointestinal upset.

While parvo can range in severity from dog to dog based on their overall health, there are a list of symptoms that you can typically expect when dealing with this disease. 

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting (Parvo Vomit)
  • Bloody vomit
  • Lethargy
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Extreme weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Trembling
  • Collapse
  • Hypoglycemia

As you can see, parvo symptoms are often quite vicious. Most dogs will develop symptoms within 3-10 days of being exposed to the virus, and can pass within days of symptoms starting if they do not receive treatment.

Most puppies pass due to a combination of severe dehydration, hypoglycemia, and secondary infection.

Is Parvo Fatal In Puppies?

Parvovirus is considered a potentially fatal condition in growing puppies.

The survival rate in dogs receiving treatment is anywhere from 68%-92%, but this is only when they receive adequate care from the moment symptoms begin.

The mortality rate of parvo without treatment is 91% (Source).

Parvo can always be potentially fatal when not treated appropriately, and there are even cases in which a dog still dies when receiving critical care.

How To Help Your Puppy Survive Parvo

If your puppy is diagnosed with parvo, there are a few ways in which you can offer them the best chance at survival.

Though every situation will vary, the following actions can only help your pup with parvo.

Seeking Vet Care Immediately

When it comes to treating parvo in dogs, immediate action is critical.

Even one round of bloody diarrhea can dehydrate your dog significantly, making it so important to seek veterinary care from the moment the symptoms begin.

Preventing as much GI damage as possible is the best way to offer your pup a chance at recovery, and medical intervention is the only way to do that.

If you ever fear parvo in your canine friend, we suggest reaching out to your vet immediately.

Hospitalizing Your Puppy

This can vary from case to case, but hospitalizing your dog is the best way to tackle their parvo diagnosis.

Hospitalization allows your vet to administer fluids and medications IV, addressing their symptoms at the source.

This is also the best way to monitor your dog’s symptoms closely, as trained veterinary professions will know if any further action is required.

While some dogs may be well enough to treat at home, it is usually best to have them hospitalized in the early stages of their diagnosis.

If you are unable to hospitalize your dog for any reason, we suggest working with your vet to develop the best at-home care plan possible.

Monitoring Them Closely

Whether you are treating your dog’s parvo at home or your dog has just been released from the hospital, you will need to monitor them closely.

Parvo patients can go downhill quickly, even in a matter of hours. If your dog with parvo declines in any way, we always suggest reaching out to your vet for guidance.

Declining can include not eating, more diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, weakness, and vomiting.

If any of these symptoms develop suddenly or worsen significantly during their recovery, it’s time to visit your vet.

Helping Them Eat & Drink

Parvo can make a dog extremely nauseous. Even if they are being offered intensive care to help them recover, it may take some time for their normal appetite to return. Because of this, you will need to help them take in enough nutrients each day.

This can include offering them multiple bland diet options, cooking your own bland protein and rice, or even syringe feeding them.

If you have any questions on how to best nourish your pup, we suggest speaking with your vet.

How Do I Know If My Puppy Will Survive Parvo?

This is a tough question to answer, as every case of parvo will vary significantly.

There is no way to know if your dog will survive parvo, but there are a few signs of a dog on their way to recovery.

They Are Responding To Veterinary Care

It’s a wonderful sign if your dog is responding to veterinary care.

A dog that will survive parvo will often begin to improve by the 72-hour mark, and will even show minor signs of improvement before the 72 hour mark.

Though it’s not always a guarantee, hope is appropriate if your pup is improving with treatment.

Their Appetite Returns

It is a great sign when a once anorexic parvo patient starts to eat again.

This can show us that their nausea may be under control, and that they are feeling well enough to brew up an appetite again.

They may not be chowing down on their food immediately, but even a small appetite is a good sign in many cases.

They Can Eat Without Vomiting

If your puppy with parvo is able to keep their food down without vomiting, this is a great sign.

This shows us that not only is their nausea subsiding, but they are able to successfully take in nutrition orally. If your dog is currently being hospitalized, this may be your vet’s sign that they are ready to be cared for at home.

Their Diarrhea Is Resolving

Severe diarrhea (parvo poop) is part of what dehydrates parvo patients so rapidly.

Resolving diarrhea is not only a sign that their gut is beginning to heal, but that their dehydration will be easier managed without IV fluids.

Your dog’s stool will not return to normal overnight, but even minor improvements are promising.

They Have Energy Again

There is nothing better than seeing a once lethargic parvo patient, standing up in their cage and barking.

Parvo will deplete a dog of so much energy, causing them to appear listless and weak. If your puppy with parvo is beginning to perk up, this could point to the potential of them feeling better.

How Long Does It Take A Dog To Recover From Parvo?

In most cases, puppies recover from parvo in 7-10 days.

Your puppy may still have a few minor signs of GI upset, but they should no longer be in the critical stages of this condition.

Many experts even believe that if a parvo patient survives past the 4 day mark, they are likely to make a full recovery.

Though the road to recovery may be a challenging one for some puppies, you can rest assured that most puppies are in the clear by the 7-10 day mark.

Final Thoughts

Parvo is a devastating illness in dogs that requires intensive care. The tips listed above can not only help you better understand your dog’s current situation, but will allow you to offer them the best chance at a full recovery.

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