You suspect that your pup contracted Parvo, and it sucks.
The poor fur kid is sick as a dog (literally), and you’re worried that he might not make it if you don’t get the proper treatment in time.
Someone told you that probiotics work like a charm to help dogs recover from this dreaded disease.
Now you’re wondering, is it true?
How effective are probiotics at treating Parvo?
And, what’s the catch?
Are there any side effects you should be aware of?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here’s the down low on probiotics, Parvo, and all the related questions.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacterial cultures and yeast that our bodies need for continued gut health.
These live naturally in our bodies, and we see them as the “good guys” that fight disease and harmful bacteria (the “bad guys”).
They help our fur kids’ bodies and our bodies maintain a healthy balance.
When you take antibiotics, the good and bad bacteria in your body get killed.
Here, you can take probiotic supplements to restore the balance.
Probiotics are available in various forms and can be given to your fur kids as a supplement, or through specific fermented foods, like Yakult, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
What is Parvo?
Parvovirus, or Parvo, is a viral disease affecting dogs.
It’s highly contagious and can be fatal.
There are two types of Parvo: intestinal and cardiac.
Intestinal Parvo affects the intestines, causing vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), weight loss, lack of appetite, and lethargy.
While this disease is severe, it can be cured when identified and treated early enough, provided that the affected dog has good general health.
Older dogs and puppies often succumb to Parvo when they get infected.
Cardiac Parvo attacks the heart muscles, specifically in young puppies and fetuses, and is often fatal.
If you want more information on Parvo, have a look at our full article on the topic (link to article on Parvo).
How Can I Prevent Parvo in Dogs?
Parvo is highly contagious; the virus can live in the soil and on affected surfaces for years.
The best way to clean affected areas and prevent the spread is to use concentrated household bleach.
This virus is extremely tough and will resist anything less harsh.
The best way to prevent Parvo is to vaccinate your fur kid.
Unfortunately, the natural immunity puppies get from their mother’s milk can interfere with vaccination. So, it’s best to keep puppies away from potentially infected areas.
Public places are potential hotspots for contracting Parvo.
Dog parlors, kennels, beaches, and even your friend’s home can be infected.
It’s best to keep your fur kid home during a Parvo outbreak.
What are The Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs?
Probiotics have a host of benefits for dogs, both the healthy and the ill.
Parvo affects your fur kid’s gastrointestinal system, disrupting the delicate balance between good and bad bacteria in their gut. Probiotics help restore this balance, usually preventing the symptoms from getting worse.
This helps speed up your pup’s recovery process.
Good gut bacteria are essential in removing toxins from the body.
These intestinal good guys help filter toxins before they get to the liver, which is mainly responsible for detoxification.
Giving your fur kid a boost of good bacteria helps his body deal more effectively with toxins.
Probiotics help normalize the digestive process, which helps your pup’s body absorb much-needed vitamins and minerals.
If they can’t do this effectively, they can’t digest their food correctly and thus can’t recover properly.
It also helps maintain the gut barrier.
That’s the intestinal wall that keeps toxins and other baddies out of the bloodstream.
When a dog has Parvo, the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, weakening this barrier.
The bad bacteria can potentially enter the bloodstream, causing septicemia.
This is usually the leading cause of death in fatal Parvo cases.
So, keeping your pup’s gut as healthy as possible is essential, especially when he’s suffering from Parvo.
The gut is the incubator for your fur kid’s immune system, comprising around 70% of his body’s immune response.
Boosting your pup’s probiotic levels strengthens the immune system, giving him a fighting chance against Parvo and a host of other diseases.
Can Probiotics Treat Parvo in Dogs?
There isn’t a specific cure for Parvo at the moment.
Typically, dogs would receive fluid therapy (a drip at the vet), anti-nausea medication, antibiotics, anti-diarrheal medication, and probiotics.
So, while probiotics won’t cure your fur kid of Parvo, they will help him tremendously as his body fights the virus.
Are Probiotics Safe Puppies with Parvo?
Puppies can take probiotics, provided they’re the right type and given in the right way.
There are probiotics on the market specifically formulated for puppies.
These ones contain the types of microorganisms that naturally occur in your tiny fur kid’s digestive tract and would thus help maintain the natural balance in his body.
Some probiotics contain many CFUs (Colony Forming Units).
These multiply to form large colonies of that specific type of bacteria in the gut.
This could potentially drown out all other strains of bacteria in their gut, killing off diversity.
If your pup is sensitive to that specific strain, or if it’s the wrong strain for his body, it could make him ill instead of improving his health.
So, when administering probiotics to your fur kid, ensure that it’s the right type, specifically formulated for canine babies.
Can I Give My Dog Human Probiotics?
Some human probiotics are safe for dogs, but not all. And, they’re not necessarily the best choice for your pup.
Some human probiotics contain strains of good bacteria that naturally occur in your fur kid’s digestive tract. These are great and won’t harm your pup. Check the label for other potentially harmful ingredients, like xylitol.
It’s also best to check that the probiotic you’re offering your dog contains multiple strains of bacteria. Gut diversity is essential for a healthy digestive system, improving your fur kid’s general health.
Then, there are the prebiotic substances. These are good foods your pup can’t digest but feed the good bacteria in their gut. Examples include inulin and fructooligosaccharide.
While your fur kid will reap benefits from some human probiotics, offering him a specialized canine probiotic is best. These are formulated with his gut health in mind and contain the bacteria naturally occurring in doggy bodies. You can also find probiotics formulated for his life stage, which would be even more beneficial. These supplements won’t contain anything that can harm your pup, like artificial sweeteners and other nonsense, which is a definite plus.
In short, if you want your pup to derive the greatest benefit from probiotic supplements, get a good canine probiotic.
Alternative Treatments for Dogs with Parvo
We’ve already established that there isn’t necessarily a cure for Parvo. Still, you can help your pup’s body fight the disease. You’ll have to watch your pup around the clock and help him through the worst. If your pup’s condition worsens, it’s best to rush him back to the vet. Sometimes, specialized care is the best answer.
A plethora of home remedies are available to treat Parvo, most of them homeopathic. Here’s a quick overview.
Parvo is notorious for causing dehydration in dogs, which is potentially fatal. Get some Sub-Q fluid kits from the vet and ask for guidance in administering them. Also, offer your pup some electrolyte supplements. Mixing these in his water bowl would typically do the trick.
Since your fur kid is likely vomiting up a storm, he’ll need proper sustenance to nurse him back to health. Introduce food slowly to help his body adjust to having something in his stomach. Small portions of wet food are a great way to go. Add some high-calorie, vitamin-rich supplements there to give his body a boost.
You could even use meat-rich baby food in a pinch since it’s typically all mushed up and easy to eat.
Supplements that help your pup include egg yolk, apple dicer vinegar, fish oil, and probiotics. These all contain goodies that help his body regain strength and fight the disease.
Colloidal Silver is a homeopathic remedy often used for dogs and humans. The Silver is said to deprive the viral bad guys of oxygen, effectively starving them. This causes them to die out.
Speak to your vet first before administering this home remedy to your pup. He’ll offer some input around dosage and whether this remedy is appropriate for your pup.
¹ Photo by Klara Avsenik on Unsplash