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You can read about the first part of our puppy’s parvovirus story here. Understanding Canine Parvovirus
We still don’t know how our sweet puppy even caught Parvo. We had kept her strictly quarantined from the world for weeks after we brought her into the family. The only thing that had changed in our routine was that we had bought a very large dog treat from a store which we had never shopped at before. She went nuts for the chew treat for a whole day, and about 36 hours after receiving it, she began to show symptoms of illness. Within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, I saw how serious it was, and we rushed her to the vet. I am so thankful for an incredible team who were able to see her immediately.
My understanding, as it is a virus, is that there’s nothing you can do to cure canine parvovirus. It’s one of those things that your little sweetie has to overcome on their own. Unfortunately, it is such an aggressive virus that it dehydrates the body and without medical intervention for fluids and electrolytes, and as a result, there’s a high mortality rate. Many pups and families are not as fortunate as we were.
With that illness comes many health risks even after the dog heals. Sometimes it can leave permanent damage on their digestive and immune systems, as well as some major organs. In turn, this can cause additional related health struggles later in their life. As a gut health nutritionist, I knew what to do. Heal Lottie’s gut, much like we would if she were a person.
When Lottie was finally home, she looked like a furry skeleton. It was heartbreakingly grotesque, but we were so overjoyed for her return that nothing else mattered. It was time to heal! I made an effort to create a homemade dog food blend that our little puppy girl would enjoy, but would encourage her to pack on new weight without becoming obese. The vital goal was for me to choose foods that would promote healing and protection of the intestinal lining, and to space them out so that she could get the maximum effect of their nutritients.
A few words of advice:
1- Always consult your vet for guidance before beginning a new regimen on your furry family member. Be sure to pay attention to your dog’s specific breed and physical needs. Even dogs are bio-individual in their nutritional and gut health needs.
2- Another tip is to encourage a wide variety of foods for your dog to explore. You’ll see that they have their favorite foods much like people. I try to allow her to explore a variety of textures and flavors with many of her meals.
3- Finally, the most important thing to do was not combine too many rich foods in one meal. For example, I have learned that it is not helpful to combine starchy carbohydrates with heavy proteins. Instead, I like to give her breakfast of rice and mixed grains, fruits, and probiotics, and I like to give her dinner of meat mixed with vegetables and greens.
When we were actively trying to nurse Lottie back to health and get her weight back up, we did not limit her intake of foods as we wanted her to eat as much as she felt need for. Now that she is older and much stronger, she stays on a fairly consistent schedule with her feedings. We also supplement with age-appropriate store-bought doggy kibble.
Here is what Lottie’s homemade doggy meals look like now:
- 1 cup oat and barley porridge
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup cubed baked pumpkin
- Serve tepid (neither hot nor cold) so it is easy to digest
- You can layer ingredients or gently mix together.
- I also like to sprinkle probiotic supplement powder onto her meal.
Snack (feed sparingly):
- Fresh green beans, baby carrots or celery with peanut butter
- Freeze dried minnows— high-value treats which are great motivators for training sessions
- Boiled chicken livers or chicken meat— high-value treats which are great motivators for training sessions
- Small wedge of red cabbage— extremely messy, fun busy treat. If you’re going to give your dog red cabbage, do so sparingly and do it outside, because it turns into confetti.
- 1 cup ground beef or venison
- 1 tablespoon fish oil (in winter) or olive oil (in summer)
- 1/2 cup spinach or kale
- 1/2 cup okra
- 1/2 cup cubed, baked sweet potato
- Serve tepid (neither hot nor cold) so it is easy to digest. Gently mix the ingredients together.
- I also like add digestive enzyme powder onto her meal.
It depends on what we have on hand, what I have time for, what I have planned ahead, and prepared. Amounts depend upon how she is feeling and her mood. And, of course, amounts should depend upon your dog, their individual needs, and the educated guidance of your vet.
There is no guarantee that Lottie will not have any type of challenges in her future, but one thing we do know is that we are doing everything in our power to be good pet parents, and to give her a strong bill of health with regular checkups, vaccinations, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and mental discipline.