Can Puppies Survive Parvovirus?

If you have a puppy or have been thinking of getting one, you have probably heard of parvovirus. It's an often deadly viral disease that causes extreme vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and dehydration. While older dogs can contract and spread parvo, it does not usually affect them very severely. However, when a puppy gets it, that puppy almost always becomes severely ill.

Most puppy owners whose puppies get parvo either lose the puppy directly to the virus or choose to put the puppy down. But can a puppy survive parvo? In rare cases, they can. But, to survive, they will need to go into the vet hospital ASAP.

Recognizing Early Symptoms

If you wait until your puppy is dehydrated, lethargic, and very ill to call the vet hospital, there may not be much they can do. But if you recognize parvo early on and call the vet, your puppy's chances of survival will increase.

The tough thing is that in its early stages, parvo doesn't appear much different from an upset stomach or a milder bacterial infection. Also, the "early stage" may only last a day, or sometimes even less, which means you need to pay close attention to your pup. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call the veterinary hospital ASAP.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Failure to drink water
  • Loose stools
  • Less energy than usual
  • Vomiting more than once in 24 hours

You may take your dog to the vet only to learn they just ate something that didn't agree with them. But it's better to find out it isn't parvo than to wait too long and find out that it was. 

Treating Parvo

If your puppy is diagnosed with parvo and the vet thinks they have a decent chance at recovery, then you can opt for treatment. Since parvo is a viral disease, there is no specific cure. However, the vet will give your puppy IV fluids to keep them hydrated, which helps their body continue to fight off the virus. The puppy will also be kept warm, which can help stimulate the immune system. They may be given anti-diarrhea medications and medications to combat vomiting, too. If a puppy is going to survive, they generally make a turn for the better within three or four days, but it may be two weeks or longer before they're fully recovered.

Puppies can survive parvo. However, it requires prompt and thorough care at a vet hospital. And still, there are no guarantees.