Thought Parvo couldn't happen to you? This blog is about Rocki, our little cinnamon and white Shitzu pictured in the bottom right of the photo. We rushed him to the animal hospital last night where he was diagnosed with Parvo, or Canine Parvovirus.
Parvo is a severe infection that causes intestinal damage. This leads to septicemia and severe dehydration that could be fatal. For some reason, certain breeds (Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher and English Springer Spaniel) have a much higher fatality rate that other breeds. It is a highly contagious virus that requires aggressive medical treatment immediately.
In our city, there is an epidemic outbreak of Parvo. Clinics are running out of supplies. I read about it in the paper but thought our little guys were very secure on their home turf. How wrong I was!
Because the main source of the virus is from the feces of infected dogs, I stopped walking my dogs in the area as poop is one of their passions: they love to sniff it and touch it. If it's goose poop, they wolf it down like they've never seen food. Since not every dog owner is a good citizen picking up their messes, I decided I would keep my dogs safe at home until the epidemic passed.
Despite all my precautions, Rocki still picked up the virus. How? I figured it out this morning when I was cleaning up the yard...he contracted it from flies. Think about it...flies congregate on feces and then come into your home. I was killing them with the flyswatter, but a couple of times I was too slow on the draw and Rocki ran over to eat them before I could pick them up.
So what are the symptoms? Well, Rocki threw up yesterday morning. We weren't too concerned at first. After all, Rocki is one of those dogs who puts everything he sees into his mouth so we figured he just ate something that didn't agree with him. Then he got a bit of diarrhea and I cleaned him up. That too has happened before when he ate something that didn't agree with him. However, what made me keep an eye on him was when he continued to vomit a white, frothy mucus. He wouldn't eat and didn't drink anything, yet he kept vomitting. As the day turned into night, he became more listless and unresponsive. I called a 24 hour emergency veterinarian and described the symptoms. They told me to bring him in immediately.
At 9:30 p.m. we arrived at the animal hospital where the vet began testing. Unfortunately, the one tried and true test for Parvo was unavailable. Because of the severe outbreak in the city, they ran out of the test. They called other local vets and they too had run out. The second method of determining Parvo was a rectal exam (which Rocki did not like too much and I couldn't even watch). The vet showed me that there was blood in the stool and she was able to detect Parvo by the smell of it...apparently, it has a very distinct odor. As a precaution they also took some blood because many dogs with Parvo (but not all) have a lower white blood cell count. Rocki's was normal.
Without the one test that determined whether or not Rocki definitively had Parvo, we had to make a decision: do we leave him at the hospital and treat him as if he has it, or do we take him home and treat him as if he just had vomitting and diarrhea and take the risk that he doesn't have a potentially fatal disease? The vet also told us that treating Rocki for Parvo will cost between $2,000 and $3,000.
In the end, we chose to treat him as though he had Parvo and left him at the hospital so treatment could begin. We were told that it could take between 2 and 5 days in the hospital before he is well enough to leave, and that there is a chance he may not make it. At this point he is in the hospital...we are waiting to hear how he is doing.
Some facts about Parvo: - it's hard to kill. The virus is resistant to heat, detergents, alcohol and most disinfectants. The only thing that will kill it is a 1:30 bleach solution. The virus has even been recovered from surfaces contaminated with dog feces after three months at room temperature.
- it's easily transmitted via the hair or feet of infected dogs, contaminated shoes, clothes and other objects or areas contaminated by the infected feces, so direct contact between an infected dog and a healthy dog is not necessary.