What to Feed a Dog or Puppy with Parvo (How Much / How Often)?

what to feed a dog with parvo

The following guide is a contribution from a guest author who rescued a puppy with parvo from Madrid a couple of years ago. The puppy was unfortunate to have parvo, so you read first-hand knowledge of what to feed a puppy with parvo, how often, and how much fluid the dog will need.

What to feed a puppy with parvo?

Having a pup with parvo is scary. This highly infectious and life-threatening virus is a huge risk to young dogs under the age of four months. However, if it’s spotted quickly, and the puppy gets early treatment, the outlook can good.

This is precisely what we had to do with Fizz, the Spanish Galgo puppy, He was rescued from the streets of Madrid along with his brothers and sisters, and thanks to the rescue quickly spotting the signs of parvo, he got the treatment he needed.

The parvovirus affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, which can mean that they lose their appetite and then struggle to properly digest their food even once recovered. Fizz had lost lots of weight during his treatment, so now was the time to get him back into perfect condition and ready to move on to his new forever home.

Little did I know at that stage that he would work his way into my heart and still be here two years later!

What to feed a dog recovering from parvo?

Once your puppy has stopped vomiting, you can start thinking about getting them interested in food again. Slow and steady is the answer here, feeding too much, too quickly, will overload your pup’s digestive system and create more problems.

In terms of what to feed, well, you’re looking for highly nutritious and appetizing foods that will tempt them to eat and encourage their appetite back to normal. This can include foods like the following to help build up strength.

1. Meat-based baby food

Most supermarkets have a huge selection of baby foods; I went for the organic, no additives or preservative brands to try to ensure that he was receiving the best nutrition within the small meals he was eating. Do make sure there is no onion or garlic as they can cause stomach upsets in dogs.

2. Chicken broth

Chicken carcasses are the best option here as you also get all the goodness from the bones, but if you can’t get those, then chopped up chicken will be a good substitute. Add to a pan of water along with a little rice and then slowly bring to the boil until the chicken is cooked. Then let it fully cool down before offering it to your pup.

Handy Hint: Chicken noodle soup is often used to help dogs get back in their feet, and is a great food for dogs recovering from sickness including parvo.

3. Egg and meat shakes

Eggs are so nutritious that when they’re then added to some cooked deli meats, it becomes a real powerhouse of nutrients, making it the ideal dish to feed a dog recovering from parvo.

It’s quick and easy to make; just put two eggs into a blender along with a couple of slices of cooked turkey or chicken and then blitz until it’s all mixed together.

As their appetite begins to develop, you can start to add in some of their regular dog food until they are eventually back to their normal diet.

Handy Hint: Science suggests that it’s unlikely that dogs will get parvo more than once due the immunity their body builds up after the first infection.

How to feed a dog with parvo 

With many dogs and puppies with parvo losing their appetite, it can be a struggle to get them to eat even when you’re providing really tasty foods. One of the best ways I found was to dip my finger into the food and then gently wipe it onto my pup’s gums.

It seemed that while he had lost interest in eating, once he got the taste of something good, then he was more motivated to give it a try.

You could also try a plastic, needless, syringe, like those toddlers have for medicine. Simply use it to squeeze liquidized food directly into their mouth but do make sure you do this with very small amounts of food to prevent any chance of causing of choking.

How often should you feed a dog with parvo?

The Today’s Veterinary Nurse website have section on parvo, and explain you should look to feed a dog 3 times a day, with small and frequent portions.

What should dogs and puppies with parvo drink?

Dehydration is a huge issue with parvo, and it can seriously affect whether or not your pup will survive. While your youngster can cope for a while without eating, taking in liquids is vital for their recovery.

Many vets recommend Pedialyte (view on Amazon), which you can find in all the big supermarkets and chemists. This rehydrating solution, which should be diluted with an equal amount of water, contains electrolytes, which are the essential minerals such as sodium, calcium, and potassium.

Each one of these is vital to a range of key functions in your dog’s body and so crucial for them to begin to feel better.

Sports drinks such as Gatorade could also be used a short-term alternative. However, many sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and not enough electrolytes to be able to really help your dog to get all the minerals they need to rehydrate.

Many dogs with parvo will also accept an ice cube placed in their mouth for a few seconds but do make sure they don’t swallow them whole.

How much fluid can I give my dog with parvo?

Making sure that your recovering dog gets enough to drink has to be a top priority. You might be used to putting down a bowl of water and letting your dog help themselves as and when they need it, but right now, you need to know how much they are drinking and how often.

Aim to offer fluids as often as you can and definitely every few hours, especially if your dog is struggling to keep food down.

If there is no interest in drinking, then you may need to use a needless syringe to slowly force liquid into the corner of their mouth.

To check if your pup is becoming dehydrated, lift up the skin on the back of their neck and check if it falls back into place straight away; if it doesn’t, then your dog has become dehydrated. Another way to check for hydration is to take a look at your dog’s gums, which should be a healthy pink color.

If you then carefully press your finger against your dog’s gums, the color will begin to lighten. Then once you lift your finger, the gum should go back to the original color; if it doesn’t, then again, your dog is likely to be dehydrated.

If you think your dog has become dehydrated and you can’t get them to accept fluids, then that may mean that a trip to the veterinarian. They will be able to assess your dog and, if necessary, will provide hydration through subcutaneous fluids delivered under the skin.

The possible long-term digestive effects for dogs recovered from parvo

Research carried out in Germany (view research), showed that over 40% of dogs who had been diagnosed with parvo went on to develop chronic gastrointestinal problems.

For Fizz, who had parvo as a puppy, he continued to have digestive issues until he was around two years old. Any slight changes in diet or adding in some tinned food to his dry kibble would result in the dreaded diarrhea, and he would then lose weight very quickly.


Once we found a good quality kibble with no cereals, a named protein source, and with no additives, our puppy quickly began to gain weight and condition. Every dog is likely to be a little different, so you might need to try a few different foods to find the right one, but generally, the better-quality foods are likely to be the ones to try first.

If you find the right food for your puppy with parvo, stick with it, don’t be tempted to add in scraps from your meal and watch out for too many treats!

Disclaimer: The content in this guide is the opinion of a dog owner who has had to feed their puppy recovering from parvo, and not that of a vet. Always seek guidance from a professional.

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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-food-dog-bowl-dog-kibble-5168940/

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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