By Kathy Walsh

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – If you’ve ever gotten a puppy, you’ve probably heard of parvovirus. It is a potentially deadly disease that can be prevented with vaccination. But if a dog gets parvo, treatment at the veterinarian can cost from $3,000 to $5,000.

The experts at James L. Voss Veterinary Treatment Hospital at Colorado State University have now come up with a more affordable alternative; home care. Dedicated dog owners can take a sick puppy home with the right medicines. With diligent care, the canine may recover.

puppies 2 New Treatment Option For Puppies With Parvo Thanks To CSU Researchers

Annabelle Terry with Maverick (credit: CBS)

At six weeks, Maverick, was one sick pup. When Annabelle Terry bought the Australian Shepherd, she hadn’t bargained for the virus he came with.

“Parvo is an intestinal problem basically and it ultimately kills the puppies because it dehydrates them to death,” explained Terry.

Terry took Maverick to the Veterinary Treatment Hospital at CSU. He spent five days there on IV medications. The bill was $3,000.

“I know him being here, he had the best care possible,” said Terry.

But not everyone can pay the price to treat parvo.

“Often that leads to a situation where we have to decide to euthanize the puppy,” said CSU veterinarian Dr. Lauren Sullivan, a specialist is small-animal emergency and critical care.

Sullivan has studied another option, sending the puppy home with strict nursing instructions.

puppies 1 New Treatment Option For Puppies With Parvo Thanks To CSU Researchers

Dr. Lauren Sullivan (credit: CBS)

“That would involve giving fluids under the skin and medications under the skin and a special diet at home,” said Sullivan.

The study found puppies monitored every few hours at home can survive at a cost of a few hundred dollars.

“We still believe that hospitalization for parvo is the gold standard treatment,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan added the best way to prevent parvo is vaccinating puppies at 6 to 8 weeks and following up with two boosters.

This summer, Sullivan is again studying parvo. This time she is examining a new treatment that may help improve recovery time in sick puppies. All costs for hospitalization and treatment will be covered for puppies that qualify.

Who qualifies?

Puppies diagnosed with canine parvovirus, based on ELISA snap test. The puppy must be greater than 1.5 kg (approximately 3 pounds), less than 6 months of age, displaying clinical signs consistent with parvovirus infection (anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea), and have never been vaccinated for parvo. The puppy must not have received any treatment for parvo prior to study enrollment.

Purpose of the study

Canine parvovirus (or parvo) is often a deadly disease unless puppies are hospitalized with aggressive supportive care. Hospitalization can become cost-prohibitive, therefore new treatments that may shorten the course of disease or clinical severity, are needed. The purpose of this study is to investigate a novel biologic product that may aid in the recovery of puppies affected with parvo. Puppies will receive standard-of-care treatment for parvo which includes IV fluids, antibiotics and anti-nausea medication. Additionally, puppies may receive an additional treatment (a novel biologic product) that may hasten the recovery from parvo. This is a randomized study, meaning some puppies will receive the biologic product and some puppies will receive a placebo.

What is required

Owners must be willing to hospitalize their puppy until he/she has recovered from parvo and is ready to go home. All costs of hospitalization will be paid for by the study, but owners are required to pay the $125 examination fee, as well as the cost for the ELISA snap test (approximately $30).

After hospital dismissal, owners must be willing to bring their puppy back at 30-days and 90-days. This is to perform some follow-up tests that will be at no charge to the owner.


All costs associated with hospitalization and treatment of parvo will be covered by the study.

To Enroll

Call 970-297-5000 if you have a puppy that meets the above criteria. Non-emergent questions can be emailed to

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s