Parvo Puppies

PARVO & PUPPIES

The “P” Word One of the most exciting, yet worrisome, events at any shelter is the appearance of puppies as shelter residents. While our shelter loves having them, and we rarely have any problem finding homes for them, puppies are a double edged sword. This spring we received a litter of gorgeous Heeler/Aussie mix puppies. Because they were such wonderful dogs folks immediately started clamoring for a PUPPY!

ADORABLE PUPPIES!!

ADORABLE PUPPIES!!

While we wanted the pups to get adopted and go home with their new families as quickly as possible, our first concern was for the health of the pups. The person who brought them to us had said that the mother did not nurse them for very long and that she had been giving them milk replacer since about 2 weeks of age. Unfortunately, this was a red flag indicating that the pups had probably not gotten a lot of antibodies from their mom, which meant that they would be prone to disease, especially to attack by the parvo virus.

Parvo is one of the most common serious dog disease problems encountered in any animal shelter – and the most worrisome for the owner of any new puppy. The parvo virus can live in the environment for up to a year. It causes an acute, highly contagious disease that most often occurs in puppies 6 to 20 weeks of age. The virus has a tendency to attack rapidly-reproducing cells such as those lining the gastrointestinal tract, which causes the cells of the tract to die and sluff off, producing a foul smelling diarrhea and the inability of the puppy to absorb food or water. Young pups become dehydrated very quickly.   If proper veterinary care is not immediately begun- which typically involves putting in an IV and giving the puppy fluids – puppies can die.

Starting at 6-8 weeks puppies can receive the first of three vaccinations to protect against parvo, but puppies aren’t fully protected against the disease until after they’ve received their 3rd injection, anywhere from 10-16 weeks of age. We tend to vaccinate early in the shelter environment so that the third vaccine is given when the puppies are 14 weeks of age.

This particular litter of pups DID receive their initial vaccination upon arrival at the shelter, but it proved to be too little, too late. Within the first 6 days of arrival all seven of the puppies began to show signs of the virus, meaning that these pups had been exposed prior to arrival at our shelter, since the virus must first enter the gut of a puppy and then requires an additional 3-7 days for the disease to cause symptoms. Once we observed early signs of the disease – listlessness, not drinking water – all seven of the pups were immediately started on IV fluids and other supportive treatment.

There are various strains of the parvo virus and this particular strain proved to be especially virulent. The pups would appear better and then would sink back into the throes of the disease. This continued over the course of a week, at the end of which only 3 of the pups survived.

Parvo disease is spread from dog to dog mainly through exposure to contaminated feces. It is also spread through contract with contaminated objects which can include hands, clothing, food and water dishes, toys and bedding  Insect and rodents can also provide a means for disease spread. Parvo must be treated by a veterinarian! Parvo can have a fairly high mortality rate in puppies – up to 48% – despite early or aggressive therapy. There is no specific cure, so treatment consists of providing supportive care so the body can produce enough antibodies of its own to neutralize the virus. Puppies that survive for 3-4 days generally have a good chance of making a full recovery within a week, depending on the virulence of the strain that is infecting the puppy.

Unfortunately, at shelters, animals with parvo may be adopted out while they are incubating the disease, and then become ill a few days later in their new home. New owners often don’t know what to look for and sometimes don’t get the animal to a veterinarian in a timely manner. Although the puppies in this particular litter had not gone to their new homes yet they had been adopted.  Seven puppies were sick and seven adoptors were hoping their puppies would pull through.  It was an agonizing time for all.

Berta is one of the puppies from this litter that pulled through. She was a very sick little girl who spent a week at the veterinarian struggling for her life; but the struggle paid off.

Survived Parvo!

Survived Parvo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now she is living the dream life of any shelter dog. She has a family that loves her and 2 canine and 1 feline companions.

She has a basket filled with toys.  bertaparvo1basket

So what is in Berta’s future?

Having play dates.

Play Date

Play Date

Teaching Oso that he can play!bertaparvoosoplay1 He didn’t know how to play until Berta came into his life.

Play Oso Play

Play Oso Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nap time on a soft bed with a little big brother.

Nap Time

Nap Time

 

Living life to the fullest!!!