Your cart is currently empty.
How To Treat Parvo At Home: A Compassionate Guide to Navigating Canine Parvo - PawSafe

How To Treat Parvo At Home: A Compassionate Guide to Navigating Canine Parvo

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to treat parvo at home

Navigating through the turbulent journey of a pup battling Parvo can be heart-wrenching and anxiety-inducing. Especially when considering treating it at home, the path is laden with moments requiring unwavering commitment and vigilance. 

For those dedicated pet parents, embarking on this endeavor – often encompassing administering vital medications, facilitating constant hydration, and later, integrating canine probiotic supplements to restore gut health– this article endeavors to be your gentle guide.

Crafted with insights from veterinarians and Parvo experts like Dr. Jenny Stavisky, DVM, we tread cautiously through the intricacies of home-care, always advocating for professional vet consultation and oversight throughout this challenging journey. This isn’t an encouragement to choose home treatment as a first option, but a supportive hand for those who find themselves facing it as their only feasible route, ensuring that it’s conducted with utmost care and diligence.

Navigating the question of how to treat Parvo at home is something I’ve approached with a heavy heart and vigilant mind. I have seen many dog’s die of parvo and other preventable diseases is not a topic. I take it lightly. Parvo, a vile beast in the world of canine diseases, stealthily swoops in and, if untreated, claims the lives of 90% of its victims according to research. It’s a statistic that’s more than just numbers — it’s potential heartbreak for any pet parent. 

Therefore, I want to preface everything in this article by saying this unequivocally: if your pup even faintly echoes the signs of parvo, seeking immediate veterinary care isn’t just advisable, it’s crucial. This article does not encourage anybody to treat Parvo at home without any veterinary oversight. It only outlines how myself and others have done it with veterinary guidance.

In my world, where rescuing dogs is not an act but a lifestyle, I’ve faced parvo more times than I care to count. Arthur, my lively 6-month-old miniature Bull Terrier, became its most recent victim — contracting it presumably from a feral rescue dog I brought into our space just before his final vaccination. We spotted the signs early; his subdued demeanor, the uncharacteristic lack of appetite — all classic parvo red flags. With quick action, vigilant care, and supportive medication from our vet, Arthur — treated entirely at home — made a full recovery within a heart-wrenching five days.

It’s experiences like these, coupled with the sadly-deleted insights from TikToker h.a.r.dtruth, that underscore a pressing reality: sometimes, due to a myriad of possible circumstances, folks find themselves nursing a parvo-stricken pup at home. It’s possible, with early detection and the right support, to navigate through this at home. But it’s not a journey to undertake lightly or without professional guidance. Treating Parvo is not like treating a dog for a cold.

Note: Before we proceed, a big part of realistically treating Parvo at home is what is called “owner compliance,” this means a lot is going to depend on how consistent you are with treatment. Parvo is a rough ride for at least five days. You will probably not get much sleep because you need to be up every two hours. Being committed to this process is key to helping your puppy survive parvovirus at home without being hospitalized.

Treating Parvo at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

treating parvo at home

If you and your vet decide the best thing to do is treat your dog or puppy at home when they catch parvo; here are the steps you need to take.

Step One: Catch It Early

Early Signs of Parvo in Dogs

Spotting parvo early is super important. Let me tell you, when Arthur stopped eating that Sunday, we knew something was off. Even refusing chicken, a usually surefire treat, was a big red flag. He was still his playful self but not eating was weird for him.

Sure, a lack of appetite can pop up for lots of reasons, so it was a matter of keeping a close eye on him at first. But by the evening, when he showed signs of fever – hot ears, sticky gums, and a dry nose – we knew we had to do something fast.

I got to work making a mix of dog electrolytes with glutamine and started gently giving him fluids and electrolytes with a syringe. And thank goodness, after a few hours, his fever went down and we managed to get some sleep.

Remember: Noticing those early signs and acting fast can be a game-changer if you want to successfully treat Parvo.

Step Two: Get a Diagnosis

Even when tackling parvo at home, a vet’s expertise is non-negotiable. See, while you might think it’s parvo, it could be something else, and treating your puppy for the wrong thing won’t do them any good. Let’s rewind to Arthur’s saga: after a night of keeping him hydrated and a morning greeted by white foam vomit, we headed straight to the vet.

Arthur, despite having shed a few pounds, was still his bouncy, lively self. So, when that parvo test came back positive, both the vet and I were taken aback. My heart hit rock bottom.

The vet and I had a serious chat: should Arthur be hospitalized? Though the decision was mine, the vet thought that since he was still active and not yet in crisis mode, the stress of being cooped up in a hospital cage might actually do more harm than good. 

So, provided I was all-in for administering at-home care – which meant keeping him hydrated, giving injections, and a whole lot more (we’ll dive into the specifics in the next step) – Arthur could go home. Armed with the vet’s emergency contact details, and the understanding that if things took a downturn, he’d need IV fluids at the vet’s office, we set our course for home-based care.

Key takeaway: A proper diagnosis from a vet is a must. It guides the action plan and ensures you’re treating the right problem. And remember, even with home care, always work closely with your vet.

Step Three: Arm Yourself with the Right Medication

Okay, folks, it’s critical to note: there’s no outright cure for Parvo. What we’re doing, whether at home or in the vet’s care, is providing supportive help to get our pups through the virus, giving their bodies the strength to fight it off. Success here leans heavily on how quick you were to catch it and how committed you are to battling it out alongside your fur buddy, day and night.

When Arthur was diagnosed, our vet set us up with a toolkit of anti-emetic (medication for nausea and vomiting) and anti-diarrhea medications. Plus, a hefty supply of canine electrolyte powder to blend with filtered water, and a large syringe for force-feeding. Food was off the menu for Arthur until we were safely out of the danger zone. The prescribed medications were injections, meaning I had to be comfortable giving these to him daily. This was crucial.

Alternatively, there’s the over-the-counter (OTC) route in an emergency. Should you choose this, make sure to grab flavorless Pepto Bismol (skip the pink bubblegum stuff) and Imodium AD. You’ll also need a lot of Pedialyte — either the kiddo kind from the baby aisle or the adult recovery version — and a syringe. But if you’re able to, getting dog-specific medication from a veterinary pharmacist might be the best course of action.

Either way, here’s the big point: helping your pup fight Parvo at home means arming yourself with the right medications and being ready for round-the-clock care. It’s a big ask, and it’s vital to always keep close communication with your vet through this journey.

Step Four: Get the Dosages and Timings Right

Getting the right dosage and sticking to a timely medication schedule can be pivotal in managing Parvo at home. With Arthur, our vet made things a bit easier by preparing syringes with the correct dosage ahead of time, eliminating any guesswork on my part.

However, if you’re going with OTC medications like Imodium and Pepto Bismol, the dosages and timings might require a little more attention. Typically, these need to be administered every four to six hours and must be dosed according to your dog’s weight.

Figuring out the dosages might seem daunting, but it’s doable. A quick Google search like “Pepto Bismol dosage for [your puppy’s weight]” or “Imodium AD dosage for [your puppy’s weight]” should point you in the right direction. Remember: giving the accurate dosage and adhering to that 4-to-6-hour window, day and night, is crucial.

So, Step 4’s takeaway: whether using vet-supplied meds or OTC options of Pepto Bismol and Imodium, ensuring you’re administering the correct dosages and sticking to a strict timetable is essential for effectively managing Parvo at home.

Step Five: Prepare for Round-the-Clock Care

Brace yourself for sleepless nights, and clear your schedule because caring for a pup with Parvo demands your constant attention, a minimum of five days, but potentially longer depending on the severity of the case. If you can’t commit to being home and awake for your puppy during this critical time, hospitalization is a must.

I was fortunate enough to work from home, which allowed me to devote my time and attention to Arthur’s care. But be warned: you’ll be rising every two hours, at least, to force-feed either the Pedialyte or the dog electrolyte mix from your vet.

But how much Pedialyte should you give? In my case, I used a bit of intuition alongside vet guidance. I’d gauge by checking Arthur’s gums — feeling their heat and stickiness — and assessing his overall temperature, then would administer electrolyte fluids until his gums regained some of their moisture. This told me his hydration improved.

An essential point to remember in Step 5: it’s a marathon of continual, vigilant care. Your little one is relying heavily on you to be their rock through this battle against Parvo, necessitating your undivided attention and unwavering dedication.

Step Six: Brace for the Battle & Hold Off on Food

Parvo is no walk in the park; it’s a full-on battle. Anticipate a tumultuous journey of vomiting and diarrhea and be steadfast. Your adherence to the medication and electrolyte schedule is pivotal, and remember this golden rule: no food while they’re experiencing vomiting and diarrhea.

Remember, when treating a dog for parvo, 80% of fatalities happen in the first 5 days. So, if you can get through the first five days, your pup will likely be fine.

Ensuring your puppy is warm and situated in a serene, calm area is crucial. This not only aids their physical well-being but also provides a supportive environment as they navigate through this tough time.

Pro-tip: Keep your puppy as warm as possible. I find a very warm environment keeps the immune system fighting harder than a cold one. But gauge the temperature; you don’t want them getting so hot that they start to pant, as they lose moisture when they pant. And holding onto moisture in the body is the key to fighting parvo.

Additionally, isolation is key — not just for their peace but also to prevent any potential spread of the virus. Be meticulous about cleanliness: wipe down everything they come into contact with and ensure you’re sterilizing anything you touch after handling them, to protect yourself and prevent contamination of surfaces.

Step 6 is all about the perseverance through the harder parts of this journey: managing the symptoms with care and caution, maintaining a strictly liquid sustenance regime, and being vigilant about hygiene to safeguard against spreading the virus.

Step Seven: Begin Feeding Post-Vomiting and Diarrhea

Navigating through the tumult of Parvo, when the violent waves of vomiting and diarrhea finally subside, it’s time to gently reintroduce food. But tread cautiously — this step demands a soft and methodical approach.

I utilized canned Hill’s Urgent Care food for Arthur, thinning it with water to ease the force-feeding process. An alternativ-e-archive option, once the vomiting and diarrhea have ceased, is chicken and rice baby food. Both options are gentle on their tender, recovering system.

It’s imperative to stick with this bland, easy-to-digest diet for at least one week post-symptoms to allow their gut lining to heal, considering it undergoes significant stress and shedding during a Parvo attack.

Incorporating probiotics and glutamine at this stage can be beneficial to assist in restoring the gut lining, facilitating a smoother recovery and easing the transition back to regular feeding, once they’re ready.

Step 7 might feel like a sigh of relief, finally getting to provide some sustenance to your weary pup. But it’s crucial to approach this phase with gentleness and patience to ensure their recovery remains on the upward trajectory.

Step Eight: My Puppy Survived Parvo: Now What?

Surviving Parvo is no small feat. As you exhale, observing your resilient puppy post-battle, it’s crucial to recognize that the journey doesn’t end with the virus’s departure. The aftermath can introduce a slew of new challenges and adjustments.

Arthur’s recovery from Parvo was notably swift, likely attributed to his prior vaccinations providing a foundation of antibodies to combat the disease. However, I stumbled upon an unexpected post-recovery twist that left me puzzled — until I saw a reflection of my experience in a video by h.a.r.dtruth.

Arthur’s demeanor shifted after Parvo. My previously house-trained pup was now disregarding his potty training and his sociability with other dogs transformed into a more reactive, borderline aggressive sometimes, interaction. Was it possible that surviving Parvo reshaped his previously happy-go-lucky personality?

The creator’s own account of behavioral changes — ranging from heightened aggression and reactivity to increased clinginess post-Parvo — echoed my experiences.

The scientific community provides divergent viewpoints on this. One study acknowledges that dogs who have battled Parvo can be more susceptible to chronic gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues. However, another research article posits that Parvo doesn’t impact canine neurons, thereby dismissing a direct link between the virus and behavioral changes.

While science may not (yet) validate these experiences, the anecdotal evidence—including my personal journey with Arthur — presents a compelling narrative of post-Parvo behavioral and physiological changes. Your dog might wrestle with lingering GI issues, requiring further support for upset tummies.

Post-Parvo life may introduce new challenges and adaptations. Observing, understanding, and accommodating these shifts become the next chapter in your shared journey of resilience and recovery.

Home Treatment vs. Hospitalization for Puppies Parvo

Striding into the challenging tide of Parvo treatment brings forth a crucial decision: can, and should, your puppy be treated at home, or is hospitalization the safest route? Balancing the optimism of early-stage home treatment with the pragmatic reality of knowing when hospital care is non-negotiable becomes pivotal.

Opting for Parvo Home Treatment

For me, home treatment has always been a consideration, particularly when the virus is identified in its early stages and I can administer constant care with a veterinarian on standby for IV fluid treatments, if necessary.

Advantages of Home Care:

  • Comfort: Familiar surroundings for your puppy can alleviate stress, offering comfort amidst their ordeal.
  • Minimized Exposure: Avoiding potential exposure to additional pathogens in a veterinary hospital setting.
  • Personalized Attention: Your undivided, loving attention, might just be what your puppy needs most.

But here’s the catch: Home treatment isn’t merely about administering medications and crossing fingers. It demands an unwavering commitment to round-the-clock care, and a vet-approved treatment plan. You’re not just “trying” to treat Parvo; you’re strategically battling it with veterinary guidance from the get-go.

When Hospitalization Becomes Imperative For A Dog With Parvo

Being realistically tuned into your puppy’s condition is vital to knowing when hospitalization is non-negotiable. In general, veterinarians will only consider home treatment when it’s a mild or moderate case, not a severe one. Other times vets may be forced to allow an owner to treat a dog at home is when an owner simply can’t pay for full treatment. 

Ideally, everyone can afford hospitalization for their puppies and has pet insurance to foot the bill. But, realistically, we must acknowledge that we don’t live in an ideal world and it is increasingly common for people to suffer financial insecurity that can make a heavy vet bill difficult. 

When the care they require surmounts what you can provide at home, it’s hospital time.

Signals that Urgent Care is Needed:

  • Severe Dehydration: If your pup cannot retain fluids, intravenous (IV) therapy becomes crucial.
  • Persistent Vomiting/Diarrhea: Unrelenting symptoms can spiral rapidly and necessitate professional intervention.
  • Deteriorating Vital Signs: Observable decline in pulse, breathing, or concerning gum color.

Always involve your vet from the very start, ensuring you’re not delaying necessary intensive care. Procrastination can morph a manageable situation into a critical one.

Continuous Assessment and Flexibility

As you venture down the treatment path, keep meticulously observing your puppy and stay in continuous communication with your vet. Be ready to pivot your approach based on your dog’s evolving condition.

Remember, regardless of the initial plan, whether it’s home treatment or hospitalization, remaining adaptable and prioritizing your puppy’s welfare is paramount. So, navigate this journey with your vet, ensuring you’re always one step ahead in proactively determining the most compassionate course of action for your little fighter.

Is There A Cure For Parvo? New Parvo Miracle Cure Announced

Sadly, there is no cure for canine parvovirus (CPV), but there is a promising new treatment that may soon become available. Typically, veterinarians and pet parents have been doing their best to help sick dogs get through it by giving them special care. This usually involves a stay at the vet, where they get fluids to stay hydrated and medicine to control symptoms like vomiting. This helps them not to get too weak or catch any other illnesses while their own body fights the Parvo virus. But it can be tough on both the pups and their families, not to mention expensive.

However, there’s some fresh and exciting news from a company named Elanco. They’ve created something called the “Canine Parvovirus Monoclonal Antibody” – a treatment that seems to give pups fighting Parvo a better chance at recovery. According to Elanco, this doesn’t cure the virus, but it does help by reducing how deadly it is and might help sick dogs get better faster, so they don’t have to stay at the vet’s office for so long.

One example they shared was about a sweet little puppy named Cookie. Cookie got sick with Parvo but was treated quickly with this new medicine. Remarkably, she began to get better within just a couple of days and was soon back to her happy, playful self! You can read more about this touching story and Elanco’s treatment here.

It’s really important to keep in mind that this treatment isn’t fully approved everywhere yet and hasn’t been widely tested. So while the news is certainly promising and brings hope to many, we need to wait for more studies and results to say for sure how effective it is.

Until then, the best way to protect our puppies  from Parvo is by keeping up with their vaccinations and ensuring they’re in a clean environment to minimize their chances of catching it in the first place. And, even with these exciting developments, preventing the disease is always better than treating it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the fastest way to cure parvo?

There is no instant cure for parvo. Traditional treatment involves supportive care, like providing fluids, managing symptoms (such as vomiting and diarrhea), and preventing other infections while the dog’s immune system fights the virus. New treatments, like Elanco’s Canine Parvovirus Monoclonal Antibody, are under investigation and have shown promising results, potentially reducing the severity and duration of the illness, but more research is needed.

What Can I give my dog for parvo at home?

It’s critical to consult a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has parvo. Home treatments are NOT a substitute for professional veterinary care but under vet guidance, you might be instructed to keep your pup hydrated and comfortable. Be sure to isolate your sick dog from other pets, as parvo is highly contagious. But remember, treating parvo at home can be risky, and professional vet care is always recommended.

Can a dog survive Parvo at home?

While some dogs have survived parvo with intense at-home care, it’s a risky and challenging endeavor. Parvo is a severe, often deadly disease, and professional veterinary care significantly increases a dog’s chance of survival through precise fluid therapy, medication, and continuous monitoring.

What medicine kills Parvo?

Currently, there is no medication that can kill the parvo virus itself. Treatment typically revolves around supportive care to manage the symptoms and complications of the disease while the dog’s immune system works to combat the virus. New treatments, like the aforementioned Canine Parvovirus Monoclonal Antibody, offer hope but are not cures.

What Antibiotic kills parvo?

Antibiotics do not kill viruses, so they cannot kill parvo directly. However, antibiotics are often used in parvo treatment to prevent or combat secondary bacterial infections that can arise while the dog is weakened by parvo.

What are the early signs of Parvo?

Early signs of parvo can include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and foul-smelling, bloody diarrhea. Dogs may also become feverish or, conversely, may have a lower than normal body temperature. If you observe these signs, it’s imperative to consult a vet immediately.

When is it too late to treat Parvo?

Parvo is a swift and deadly disease, so timely intervention is crucial. Once a dog is severely dehydrated, experiencing constant vomiting and diarrhea, and is extremely weak, the prognosis becomes more guarded. However, it’s never definitively “too late” until a veterinarian has conducted a thorough examination. Immediate and aggressive veterinary treatment is always warranted when parvo is suspected or diagnosed.

Final Thoughts

Navigating through the harrowing seas of Canine Parvovirus, especially from the confines of our homes, is not only emotionally strenuous but also practically demanding. Yes, the prospect of treating Parvo at home has been considered, especially when detected early and with a veterinarian’s detailed guidance. This hands-on treatment model would mean a commitment to administering vital medications, ensuring a constant supply of hydration and electrolytes, and providing an unwavering level of intensive, round-the-clock care to our ailing four-legged friends.

However, it’s paramount to stress the complexity and severity of Parvo. There may be scenarios where despite early detection and stringent home care, the condition of our furry companion might teeter on the precarious edge. In instances of severe cases or when continuous care cannot be guaranteed, hospitalization becomes not just a consideration, but an imperative. It is in these medical environments where specialists can proficiently manage grave symptoms like debilitating dehydration and life-threatening sepsis.

Our roles as responsible and loving pet parents involve not just cuddles and play, but also making mindful decisions in times of crises. Treating Parvo – a notably aggressive virus, at home is a monumental responsibility and one that must be underpinned by expert veterinary advice and guidance. Our love for them often means making the best choices for their well-being, even when those choices are hard. Always, without a pause, consult with a professional veterinarian to navigate through such turbulent times, ensuring the pathway chosen safeguards the health and well-being of our beloved pets. May our homes always echo with the merry barks and joyful gallops of healthy, happy paws.

Meet Your Experts

Avatar of author

Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.