Guidebook: Canine Parvovirus

Chapter 8: Treatment

Treatment of CPV infected animals should only be undertaken in a shelter if sufficient facilities exist to isolate the patient such that the rest of the population is not put at risk and staff and veterinary oversight is adequate to ensure humane and appropriate care. Other options include treatment at an off-site veterinary clinic or transfer to another shelter with sufficient facilities. Unless specifically set up for CPV treatment, foster and rescue homes are generally better used for quarantine of exposed animals rather than treatment of ill puppies.

If facilities or staff are insufficient and off-site options are not possible, euthanasia of infected animals may ultimately save lives by preventing continued spread. Treatment is the same as that in a private practice setting, including anti-emetics, broad spectrum antibiotics to control secondary infections, fluid therapy and blood product transfusion as needed. Early enteral nutrition via syringe feeding or nasogastric tube is practical in some shelter environments and may be beneficial both in supporting the patient and decreasing the length of illness, resulting in decreased cost of care. 

A recent preliminary study at Colorado State University found that intensive out-patient care at a fraction of the cost ($200-$300) had similar outcomes when compared to the inpatient “gold standard” of intensive care. 

Treatments that are either not indicated or not available in the U.S. include hyperimmune serum, interferon omega, and Tamiflu.17 Hyperimmune serum is not widely available (and serum from a dog that has simply been immunized is not equivalent), and this treatment likely has limited benefit by the time clinical signs have been recognized. Interferon omega has been shown to decrease mortality for CPV virus but the product is not available in the this time. The mechanism of Tamiflu is specific to influenza viruses and there is neither evidence nor indication for its use in treatment of other infections.