Since there is no
specific therapy to eliminate the virus responsible for causing the
clinical signs associoated with parvo, the majority of efforts that go
into dealing with the disease are based around symptomatic and
supportive care of the patient, and these methods are usually
sufficient to allow an animal to recover from the disease. In
addition to early diagnosis and isolation, strong prevention programs
and control measures to prevent the spread of the virus from infected
to non-infected individuals is the principle means of dealing with the
disease. In addition to this, a new paradigm concerning the use
of antiviral medications has developed, which can actually act to
minimize the clinical disease process associated with the Parvoviral
infection, and aid the patient in clearing the infectious virus faster1.
Symptomatic and Supportive Care
dehydration is a common sequelae to the prolific diarrhea that is
associated with Parvoviral infection. Therefore, the first step
in the supportive treatment of a parvo patient is the restoration of
fluid balance. Although oral electrolyte solutions are adequate
in mildly dehydrated dogs, more severely dehydrated dogs will require
intravenous fluid therapy. In most cases, Lactated Ringer's
Solution with 5% dextrose, with an additional 10 to 20 mEq/L of
potassium chloride, will provide the necessary electrolytes required by
the afflicted animal. Constant monitoring of electrolyte changes
should be performed, and changes in the fluid therapy protocol should
be made when appropriate. In dogs where
dehydration is further
complicated due to vomition, anti-emetic medication, such as
metoclopramide can be administered QID, or as a CRI1.
of food to a dog with parvoviral syndrome is somewhat disputed.
Although it has long been held that food and water should be withheld until
the resolution of vomitting, some sources argue that by depriving
the patient of food, the enterocytes lining the digestive tract do not
receive nourishment. It is argued that this can further damage to
the gut lining and prolong intestinal recovery time. In order to
address this concern, small amounts of bland food (eg, cottage cheese
and rice, or Hill's Prescription i/d diet) should be offered at
frequent intervals1. It is important for this bland
food diet to
be continued for a prolonged period of time during the recovery
process1, while the enterocytes of the intestinal tract
return to their
normal number and function2.
controversial topic in the supportive treatment of Canine Parvovirus is
the proactive use of antibiotics. Obviously, the use of
antimicrobial agents will not prevent the virus from multiplying and
affecting the host's cells, but antimicrobials are important in the
prevention of secondary bacterial infections. One of the
pathological processes often associated with parvoviral infection is a
profound leukopenia. When this is coupled with the denuded
intestinal barrier, the host is in no condition to mount the necessary
immune response to deal with the transmigration of intestinal bacteria
to the bloodstream. To prevent this, a combination of ampicillin
or a first or second generation cephalosporin and an aminoglycoside is
recommended in cases of severe Parvovirus to provide broad spectrum
antimicrobial coverage. Although the usage of antibiotics has not
significantly demonstrated any positive effects (eg, outcome, reduced
period of hospitalization, reduced plasma endotoxin concentration) in
mildly or moderately infected individuals, their use significantly
improved the prognosis of individuals housed in tertiary care
and Control Measures
can be transmitted between animals via fomites. It is therefore
important that any objects encountered by an infected dog be thoroughly
decontaminated. This can be accomplished by using regular
household bleach in a 1:30 dilution with water, or with any commercial
cleaners that are labelled for use against parvovirus. In
addition to this, afflicted dogs should be isolated from other,
non-affected dogs while they are displaying clinical signs. Pups
should also be isolated from adult dogs that have recently partaken in
show or field trials, since they are potential vectors for the
transmission of the disease1.
important factor in the prevention and control of the disease is
regular vaccination against Canine Parvovirus. The vaccines
currently produced protect the dogs from all of the strains of the
virus that are currently in circulation. The modified-live
vaccines that are currently on the market engender strong antiviral
titres, are safe to use in puppies, and are effective in protecting
puppies, even when maternal antibody levels are high enough to
interfere with their natural immune response1.
begin at 7 to 8 weeks of age, and should occur thenafter at 12 and 16
weeks of age. Booster vaccinations should be administered at 1
year of age, and then every 3 years following that4.\
currently 2 antiviral compounds that are currently being tested in
order to determine their efficacy in treating Canine Parvoviral
first is the antiviral medication Oseltamivir,
originally manufactured to treat influenza infections. Although
formal scientific studies have not been conducted to test the efficacy
of this drug on Canine Parvovirus, several
anecdotal reports are
arising from practicing veterinarians in North America, saying
that the antiviral helps to alleviate the signs associated with the
infection5. Although the method of action of the drug
parvovirus has not been elucidated, it is suspected that it prevents
bacterial multiplication and action, thereby reducing the severity of
clinical signs observed5. The manufacturers of
Oseltamivir do not
claim that the drug can be used for the treatment of Canine Parvovirus,
however, and control studies need to be carried out before the drug can
be considered part of the normal treatment protocol for this condition.
compound that is used in the treatment of Canine Parovirus infection is
Feline omega-Interferon6. This compound has been used
in Japan and Europe in the control of not only Canine Parvovirus, but a
myriad of bacterial, viral, and neoplastic diseases
in both dogs and
cats7. Interferon is an antiviral cytokine that is
cells that are infected with a foreign agent. These cytokines
diffuse out of the infected cell and into surrounding cells, where they
inhibit viral replication and assist in the immune response6.
producers of this product are currently seeking approval for sale in
and Naturopathic Treatments
years, there has been a strong movement towards the integration of
naturopathic and homeopathic treatments and remedies into veterinary
medicine. Homeopathic and naturopathic remedies are available for
almost every disease or condition, including parvoviral
enteritis. Although many owners may think this represents a valid
form of treatment for their pet, there is little clinical or scientific
proof that supports the claims made by these products. In many
cases, the sole use of these products can permit the decay of the
patient to the point where standard medical treatment requires a longer
duration in order to be effective.
instances, the homeopathic treatment may even be more harmful than the
original condition. An example of this is Parvo K, a homeopathic
remedy for parvoviral enteritis. The principle ingredients within
this mixture are arsenic, belladonna, and toxic plant alkyloids.
Although they are present in low concentrations, they can accumulate
within the body and with long-term exposure, can begin to exert
deliterious health effects on the patient8. Common
side effects to
toxicity by these compounds includes central and peripheral
neuropathies, renal and hepatic failure, and immunosuppression9.
1 The Merck Veterinary Manual.
9th Edition. Eds: Kahn
C, Line S. Published by Merck & Co.,
Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ. 2005.
2 Dr. Christopher Clark, Personal
Communication. 2007. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
3 Otto C, Jackson C, Rogell E, Prior R,
Ammons W. Recombinant
bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (rBPI21) for treatment of
parvovirus enteritis: a randomized,
placebo-controlled trial. Journal of
Veterinary Internal Medicine. 2001.
4 Dr. Susan Taylor.
2006. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
5 Campbell N, Keith C.
Oseltamivir: Is there a new treatment for parvo?
Personal weblog. Updated: April 20,
6 de Mari K, Maynard L, Eun H, Lebreux B. Treatment of canine parvoviral enteritis with
interferon-omega in a placebo-controlled field trial.
The Veterinary Record. 2003.
7 Maehara N, Shimoda K, Kobayashi T,
Nakayama S. The effects of interferon and
applications for treating and preventing virus infections. Infovets.
8 Mind, Body and Paw - Veterinary
Remedies. Online Manual:
9 Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology – The
Science of Poisons. 6th Edition. Ed: Klaassen C. Published
by McGraw-Hill. 2001.