13 May 2017

HEALTH - At-Home Treatment for Canine Parvovirus

Every spring veterinarians see cases of parvovirus in dogs.

In fact, the Calgary Humane Society recently closed their doors temporarily for an intense shelter cleaning when a pair of dogs came into the shelter infected with the disease.

Pet owners with sick dogs are faced with hospitalization of their pet - inpatient care that can cost thousands of dollars.

For the longest time, the only other option for those unable to afford the treatment was euthanasia.

Fortunately, a study at Colorado Springs University (CSU) tested in-home treatment for pups suffering from the disease with positive results, providing a cheaper option for dog owners.

Hospitalization will always be the gold standard of care and the Colorado study demonstrated a 90% recovery rate.

The subjects that received intensive at-home care, which cost approximately $300, had a recovery rate of 80%.

The at-home treatment relies on two drugs from Pfizer Animal Health (which funded the CSU parvovirus study): Maropitant, a strong anti-nausea medication given under the skin once a day; and Convenia, an antibiotic given under the skin once, and lasting two weeks; as well as administration of fluids under the skin three times daily.

"Rather than being hospitalized, our research shows that puppies can be successfully treated with a protocol that can be replicated at home," said Dr. Lauren Sullivan, who conducted the research in 2012.

A total of 40 dogs were admitted to the study group, randomized to one group that received traditional gold standard care and one group that received the at-home protocol.

"What we showed was that it is possible to treat dogs with parvovirus on an outpatient basis,” said Sullivan.

“If owners have the willingness to provide care at home, it’s a reasonable alternative. It’s not ideal and we still recommend inpatient care, but having this protocol as an option could help save the lives of thousands of dogs across the United States every year."

Puppies must meet criteria to be good candidates for being treated at home, such as being relatively stable cardiovascularly and able to tolerate injections.

The at-home treatment protocol is available on the CSU website.

Canine parvovirus can be prevented through vaccination and limiting puppy socialization until the vaccination cycle is completed.

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