Parvoviral infection, caused by canine parvovirus 2 (CPV-2) commonly affects young puppies. Kittens and cats have their own parvovirus that causes panleukopenia. However, vaccination is so effective that this disease is very rarely seen. Clinical signs are usually seen five to twelve days after the puppy is exposed to infected feces. The signs seen depend on the virulence of the virus, the amount of virus ingested, and the breed of puppy infected. Certain breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Rottweiler’s, Pit Bulls, and Labrador Retrievers may be more severely infected than others. Signs seen include depression, lack of appetite, and vomiting, followed in 24 to 48 hours by diarrhea (often bloody). Diagnosis is made on clinical signs and testing of the feces for the virus.
Principal Natural Treatments
Nosodes, a special type of homeopathic remedy, are prepared from infectious organisms, such as distemper virus and staphylococcus bacteria. Remember that no matter what the source of the remedy; the actual ingredients are diluted in preparing the remedy. No measurable amount of the original source for the remedy remains, only the vital energy or life force, which imparts healing properties to the remedy. No harm will come to your pet regardless of the toxicity of the original compound used in the preparation of the remedy.
But, do nosodes work? Some doctors prefer nosodes manufactured by specific homeopathic pharmacies as they feel there is a definite difference in the ability of nosodes to stimulate the immune system. In their opinions, the manufacturer of the nosode is important and some vaccination nosodes work better than others.
To prevent disease, nosodes are supposed to work in the same manner as conventional vaccines, namely by stimulating antibodies to fight off infections. To treat disease, nosodes have been reported to control outbreaks of infectious disease in animals in a kennel situation. Homeopathic veterinarians have reported success in some patients when treating infectious disease with nosodes.
Glutamine or L-glutamine is an amino acid derived from another amino acid, glutamic acid.
There is no daily requirement for glutamine, as the body can make its own. High-protein foods such as meat, fish, beans, and dairy products are excellent sources of glutamine. Severe stresses may result in temporary glutamine deficiency.
Glutamine plays a role in the health of the immune system, digestive tract, and muscle cells, as well as other bodily functions. It appears to serve as a fuel for the cells that line the intestines (it serves as a primary energy source for the mucosal cells that line the intestinal tract). Because stress on the intestinal cells that can occur in parvovirus infection can increase the need for glutamine as the body replaces the cells lining the intestinal tract, glutamine is often recommended for pets with parvovirus.
It has also been suggested as a treatment for food allergies, based on the “leaky gut syndrome.” This theory holds that in some pets, whole proteins leak through the wall of the digestive tract and enter the blood, causing allergic reactions. Preliminary evidence suggests glutamine supplements might reduce leakage through the intestinal walls.
However, there is little real evidence that it works as a treatment for true food allergies, although it is highly recommended for pets with various bowel disorders.
Glutamine, being one of the body’s amino acids, is thought to be a safe supplement when taken at recommended dosages. Because many anti-epilepsy drugs work by blocking glutamate stimulation in the brain, high dosages of glutamine may overwhelm these drugs and pose a risk to pets with epilepsy. If your pet is taking anti-seizure medications, glutamine should only be used under veterinary supervision.
Maximum safe dosages for children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined; similar precautions are probably warranted in pets. Recommended dosages in pets is 250 to 3000 mg daily.
Probiotics are defined as normal viable bacteria residing in the intestinal tract that promote normal bowel health. Probiotics are given orally and are usually indicated for use in intestinal disorders in which specific factors can disrupt the normal bacterial population, making the pet more susceptible to disease. Specific factors, which can disrupt the normal flora of the bowel include surgery, medications (including steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics (especially when used long-term), shipping, birthing, weaning, illness such as parvovirus infection, and dietary factors (poor quality diet, oxidative damage, stress). Improving the nutritional status of the intestinal tract may reduce bacterial movement across the bowel mucosa (lining), intestinal permeability, and systemic endotoxemia. Additionally, probiotics may supply nutrients to the pet, help in digestion, and allow for better conversion of food into nutrients.
Prebiotics are food supplements that are not digested and absorbed by the host but improve health by stimulating the growth and activity of selected intestinal bacteria. Currently, there are fewer studies on prebiotics.
There are numerous different probiotic products available, which can contain any combination of the following organisms:
- Lactobacillus (L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. thermophiles, L. reuteri)
- Bacillus (specifically a patented strain called Bacillus CIP 5832)
- Streptococcus S. bulgaricus
- Enterococcus (E. faecium)
- B. bifidus
- Saccharomyces (S. boulardii, which is actually a beneficial yeast not a bacterium)
The intestinal tract, especially the large intestine (colon) is home to millions of bacteria, most of which are harmless and in fact beneficial to the pet. The intestinal bacteria are essential to digestion and the synthesis of vitamin K and many of the B vitamins.
As mentioned, your pet’s intestinal tract contains billions of bacteria and yeasts. Some of these inhabitants are more helpful than others. Acidophilus and related probiotic bacteria not only help the digestive tract function, they also reduce the presence of less healthful organisms by competing with them for the limited space available.
Next month we will look at how probiotics work and their dosages, along with other natural and conventional treatments for Parvovirus.
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Shawn Messonnier, DVM
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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!
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