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Bo Beats Parvo! – A Mid South Pet Success

Posted 12.12.12 by Katie Wooden, DVM

Meet Bo, a sweet puppy who comes to The Pet Hospitals. Bo is a 16 week old hound mix that his parents adopted from the animal shelter on Black Friday. 

Bo felt great when his parents first took him home, but after two days he become lethargic, stopped eating, and started having vomiting and diarrhea. Bo’s parents could tell that he was very sick, so they brought him to see us.

When I first saw Bo, I could tell that he felt very bad.  Since he had recently been adopted and had not finished his puppy vaccine series, I was extremely concerned that Bo had developed Parvo virus.

Sadly, we tested Bo for Parvo, and it came back positive. I explained to Bo’s parents how serious Parvo could be, and they opted to let Bo stay with us in the hospital for treament. Bo got an IV catheter in order to receive intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea meds. Bo still felt pretty bad; in fact, he didn’t eat for 4 days!

Luckily, after 7 days in the hospital he finally started to turn around. Thankfully, now he is doing wonderful at home with his family! Bo is a very lucky boy!

What is Parvo?

Parvo is a virus that attacks rapidly dividing cells, such as intestinal cells and white blood cells. Parvovirus is a very serious illness that generally affects dogs under one year of age that have not been fully vaccinated. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and lethargy.

How do you treat Parvo?

Parvo causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, sepsis, and even death if not treated.

Due to the severity of the illness, dogs with Parvo should be hospitalized in order to get intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medicines.   Since Parvo is a virus, there is no medicine that specifically treats the condition.  However, the virus can cause life-threatening bacterial infections, so antibiotics are used to protect affected dogs. The literature reports survival rates of 50%, but survival rates are usually much higher with treatment.

How do I protect my dog against Parvo?

Puppies under 16 weeks of age should receive at least two Distemper/Parvo vaccines 3 to 4 weeks apart. Ideally, puppies should receive four sets of vaccines: one set around 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks. Unfortunately, puppies are the most suspectible to Parvovirus.  Every puppy is different and develops immunity against the virus at different times,  so even puppies that have had vaccines against Parvo can develop the disease. Adult dogs are considered more immune to Parvo, but should still receive the Distemper/Parvo vaccine.

Until puppies have completed their vaccine series, we recommend that they avoid boarding facilities, dog parks, and contact with other dogs/puppies whose vaccines are not up to date. It is impossible to tell where puppies that get Parvo contracted the virus, but it is very common in animal shelters, breeding facilites, and other places that have a large amount of animals.

If you bring home a new puppy, we recommend taking it the veterinarian right away in order to ensure that they are healthy and receive any needed vaccines. Although it is still possible for a healthy-appearing puppy to develop Parvo, it is always best to get them checked out as soon as possible. Vaccines can help prevent this life-threatening illness!


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