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Doggie Families: Parvo?


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#1 Aelwydd

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 02:46 PM

The facts:

1. My 5 1/2 month old standard poodle was diagnosed with parvo almost two weeks ago. He had simply stopped eating and drinking one day, and vomited up a foamy, clear fluid. I was really disturbed that, in addition to acting lethargic, and turning aside even his favorite treats, he just looked..."off" to me. We took him to the emergency animal hospital where he tested for a strong positive for parvo and was admitted.

2. He had received all three shots in the series, and his last one was over six weeks previous to his diagnosis.

3. He was hospitalized and on IV antibiotics and electrolytes for 2 days. After only one day in the hospital, he started drinking water again.

4. He had only 2 or 3 incidents of diarrhea, nothing bloody, after he was discharged home. He finished all his meds just yesterday and has mostly regained the weight he had initially lost.

I have to say, after reading tons of websites about this issue, I feel like we were very lucky for him to have had so mild a case. I don't know if he weathered it so well because of the early diagnosis, some protective effect of the vaccinations, or his larger size (I've read that younger, smaller puppies are at greater risk). Maybe a combination of all three factors?

The vet bill was $2300. In addition, I got a snotty comment from one of the techs when I mentioned he'd gotten all three shots. She said, "Well, he shouldn't have gotten parvo then," like we were lying or something. Of course, if we were lying, then so was our regular vet, since she sent over all his shot records.

I told the tech, "No vaccine is 100% effective, obviously," and she had to agree. Nonetheless, it's a pretty sh#tty way (no pun intended) to blow through funds set aside for vacation. :(

Anyone else here have a similar experience? FYI, for those who don't own dogs, parvo is a nasty virus that usually kills through one of three ways: extreme dehydration leading to severe electrolyte imbalance; sepsis due to the "shearing" away of the lining of the intestines, giving opportunity for bacteria to invade the blood; severe anemia due to internal bleeding.

Dogs who are hospitalized have about an 80% chance of survival. Those who are cared for at home have about a 50% chance at best. It is a highly contagious bug, too.

In short, I really wish they could come up with a more protective vaccine!

#2 OH_Homeschooler

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 02:54 PM

Well, our dog had it when she was a puppy. It was awful. I was newly pregnant and DH was away, so I was just dealing with the symptoms as well as I could. When DH got back, we agreed that the dog was in really bad shape, took her to the vet, and she stayed overnight to get rehydrated. I don't remember what the bill was for treatment, but I remember being really scared that she was going to die and I felt really guilty for not taking it more seriously. But she did come home and made a full recovery!

We actually got this puppy from a friend whose dog had puppies, and she claimed to have had the dog immunized. ("Friend" is used loosely here). So basically, we believe the dog had been immunized but we will never really be sure.

I'm sorry you had to deal with a snotty tech. Whether or not the dog had been immunized, that's not a time to be a jerk to a pet owner. I'm glad your dog is doing better!

#3 DaffodilDreams

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:03 PM

Our first puppy caught it after only two sets of puppy shots. He didn't make it even with vet treatment. It was an awful experience, and the trauma of it caused us to opt for an older puppy when we were ready for a new pet. We had that one for almost 17 years.

I'm glad your puppy is doing better, and I'm sorry about your experience with that vet practice. I would probably say something to the vet about the tech because people in your situation don't need more guilt and stress added to the ordeal. She was way out of line.

#4 BLA5

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:11 PM

I am so glad that you caught it before it was too late and your pup is doing better.

Did they speak to you about recontamination risks?

I know that when my sister's neighbor's dog died of parvo the vet warned my sister about contamination in the shared yard spaces. (My sister and BIL had a dog that was less than a year at the time.) She was pretty freaked out about it, IIRC.

#5 Aelwydd

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:26 PM

I am so glad that you caught it before it was too late and your pup is doing better.

Did they speak to you about recontamination risks?

I know that when my sister's neighbor's dog died of parvo the vet warned my sister about contamination in the shared yard spaces. (My sister and BIL had a dog that was less than a year at the time.) She was pretty freaked out about it, IIRC.


Well, we live in an apartment community, so all doggie areas are shared. What I did was go and personally inform all the dog owners around us what happened, and try to make sure Sam only eliminated in an area not frequented by other dogs. I also took a spray bottle of mixed bleach and water after picking up the poop and sprayed the spot. As far as I know, bleach is the only way to actually inactivate the virus. It can live up to a year in the soil and it's considered ubiquitous to the environment.

The problem is exacerbated because there are coyotes around here, and our neighbor saw two of them just a few weeks ago. The vet said that they could most definitely be carriers for the virus. So, even though we're trying to protect other dogs, they could still be exposed thanks to the coyotes.

We're waiting a full 3 weeks before letting him go back to the dog park, again to try to avoid infecting others. I read that they can continue to shed the virus even after they are no longer symptomatic.

I don't know what else to do. I have been extremely worried that another dog might become infected. I do NOT want to put another family through this.

#6 Aelwydd

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:27 PM

Our first puppy caught it after only two sets of puppy shots. He didn't make it even with vet treatment. It was an awful experience, and the trauma of it caused us to opt for an older puppy when we were ready for a new pet. We had that one for almost 17 years.


I'm so sorry about your puppy. :(

#7 jenn-

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:29 PM

My only experience was a quick one. We found a puppy at the humane shelter the day it was surrendered, he was healthy then. As he had no been neutered we were not allowed to take him home until he was neutered so he had to stay in the shelter for 6 days. We picked him up as soon as they opened up the day after his surgery and he was lethargic. We were told it was post surgery stuff still working itself out. He threw up on the way home, he started in with the diarrhea overnight and by morning he was miserable. I knew when I took him to the vet it wasn't going to be good (thanks for the warning google) and I was right. He tested positive for parvo and it was advanced enough that the vet told us to put him down, so we did. He did it no cost to us and the humane shelter reimbursed our adoption money. He also warned us that it was contagious for years in the yard and to make sure we got an older dog the next time, so we did. We also had to clean our house with a Lysol III (or IV) product and DH sprayed diluted bleach in the yard. We also laughed at the animal shelter when they told us we were going to have to wait for the next dog to be spayed before letting us take her home and kindly reminded them how that went for us the last time and took our dog home that day.

#8 Erin

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:39 PM

"No vaccine is 100% effective, obviously,"


You're absolutely right.

I had an older dachsie (8 or 9 at the time?) who was a little off one day. Just kind of sluggish, but I didn't think anything of it until the next day when he refused to eat. That evening he was urping occasionally. "That's it, Mister. Tomorrow morning, you're going to the vet!"
But it was still nothing particularly alarming.

Around 5AM the next morning he could hardly walk and was acting really dopey. I called my vet and we ran to town. He died three miles out. :(
I ran in with my dog, sobbing and told Doc he was already gone.

I've known Doc for 10 years, so he just hugged me and asked what had happened. I didn't even know what to say, really. Nothing had happened, he just had an upset stomach. Doc examined him, ran some bloodwork and it came back as Parvo.
I was baffled. But he's current on all of his shots!!

Yeah, he was, but vaccines aren't a guarantee.

#9 Momof3littles

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:44 PM

Our former neighbors nearly lost their puppy due to Parvo. It was very, very touch and go. Puppy pulled through, but just. barely.

#10 hjffkj

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:45 PM

One of our dogs had it when she was a puppy. We picked her up from the rescue we purchased her from, had one good night with her, and then the next night was pure hell!!! Lots of vomit and diarrhea. It smelled like death! Parvo has a very distinct smell. I was a vet tech at the time so I knew exactly what it was. My dog had to stay at the hospital for 4 nights and even had to have a blood transfusion. My vet (also boss) only charged me for the supplies I used, since I was able to do all the care off the clock and she didn't want to make money off of an employee. That being said all the equipment cost roughly $1000 (biggest expense was the blood, which we had to get from a different veterinary hospital.)

If I were not the person to get that dog on that day she would have died. When I brought her she was in such bad condition that the vet said if it were a normal client they wouldn't have been able to save her because of the amount of attention the dog needed few clients would be willing to pay what the cost would have come out to be.

Keep your dog away from puppies for the next week or so since it is so contagious

#11 Erin

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:46 PM

From what I've read, the younger the dog, the better his chances.

#12 ktgrok

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:48 PM

I would say the reason it was so mild was the vaccines. That's ridiculously mild for parvo. (I'm a vet tech).

Oh, and I bet money that "vet tech" is NOT a certified tech. drives me nuts that those of us that did the schooling and passed all the licensing exams are called exactly the same thing as a girl just out of highschool that has never taken a single class. blergh.

#13 ktgrok

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:50 PM

OH, don't have any dogs over to your property for the next..oh...6 months probably. It can live in the soil at least that long. And furniture/floors for sooo long. Disinfect your shoes as well, so you are tracking it everywhere you go.

#14 Aelwydd

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:55 PM

You're absolutely right.

I had an older dachsie (8 or 9 at the time?) who was a little off one day. Just kind of sluggish, but I didn't think anything of it until the next day when he refused to eat. That evening he was urping occasionally. "That's it, Mister. Tomorrow morning, you're going to the vet!"
But it was still nothing particularly alarming.

Around 5AM the next morning he could hardly walk and was acting really dopey. I called my vet and we ran to town. He died three miles out. :(
I ran in with my dog, sobbing and told Doc he was already gone.

I've known Doc for 10 years, so he just hugged me and asked what had happened. I didn't even know what to say, really. Nothing had happened, he just had an upset stomach. Doc examined him, ran some bloodwork and it came back as Parvo.
I was baffled. But he's current on all of his shots!!

Yeah, he was, but vaccines aren't a guarantee.




Ok, now I'm choked up. These stories are really hitting home.

#15 Aelwydd

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:04 PM

I would say the reason it was so mild was the vaccines. That's ridiculously mild for parvo. (I'm a vet tech).

Oh, and I bet money that "vet tech" is NOT a certified tech. drives me nuts that those of us that did the schooling and passed all the licensing exams are called exactly the same thing as a girl just out of highschool that has never taken a single class. blergh.


I'm so glad someone "in the business" is posting here, to get some expert opinion. I had thought the same thing, too, that his case was really, really mild.

It was most definitely parvo-he had the foamy vomit, the total lack of appetite and would not drink at all, the lethargy, and when he came home--wow, that very distinctive diarrhea, yuck. Plus, he had the positive test, of course.

The same day we admitted him, a woman came in to pay her bill. Her dog had died of parvo, and they brought him out to her, and then took her and the dog into a back room for her to say goodbye. We were waiting to have Sam admitted and this happened. Whoa, intense scene.

I was so scared we would lose him. The vet kept assuring us that because we got in him so early, like we didn't even wait one day, that that would give him the best chance. I think the anti-nausea meds, and the fluids they gave him by IV must have really suppressed a great deal of nausea, and prevented him from losing a dangerous amount of fluids.

Has that been your experience, that the IV meds usually have a moderating effect on the symptoms?

#16 Erin

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:39 PM

The way I understand it, parvo usually kills by dehydration more than anything. I think that's why IVs are so important.

#17 StephanieZ

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:57 PM

The medications definitely moderate the symptoms. The majority of the care given is aimed to do just that, as it is not a disease you can actually fight directly.

Where did you get your parvo vaccines? What ages were they given? It is very rare for a well vaccinated adult (past puppy age) dog to get parvo. If they stop the series too young, they can still get it. Also, if the vaccines were poorly handled, they could be ineffective. They must be refrigerated, etc, so sometimes parking lot clinics and/or feedstore vaccines can be ineffective. If your dog got his shots through a reputable veterinary hospital, I'd be very surprised at a dog that age getting parvo.

I am so glad your dog made it!!

#18 BLA5

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:04 PM

Well, we live in an apartment community, so all doggie areas are shared. What I did was go and personally inform all the dog owners around us what happened, and try to make sure Sam only eliminated in an area not frequented by other dogs. I also took a spray bottle of mixed bleach and water after picking up the poop and sprayed the spot. As far as I know, bleach is the only way to actually inactivate the virus. It can live up to a year in the soil and it's considered ubiquitous to the environment.

The problem is exacerbated because there are coyotes around here, and our neighbor saw two of them just a few weeks ago. The vet said that they could most definitely be carriers for the virus. So, even though we're trying to protect other dogs, they could still be exposed thanks to the coyotes.

We're waiting a full 3 weeks before letting him go back to the dog park, again to try to avoid infecting others. I read that they can continue to shed the virus even after they are no longer symptomatic.

I don't know what else to do. I have been extremely worried that another dog might become infected. I do NOT want to put another family through this.


Ugh.

It sounds although you are doing all you can and more than many would.

It also sounds like you are in a situation where even your dog is at risk of recontamination because of the coyotes.



#19 Erin

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:15 PM

If your dog got his shots through a reputable veterinary hospital, I'd be very surprised at a dog that age getting parvo.


Well it definitely happens.
In my case, my vet had been in practice for more than 30 years...

I would suggest you ask your vet if vaccines are fail-safe.

#20 jenn-

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 08:21 PM

My vet said the parvo shot was similar to the human chicken pox shot. It will stop most but not all cases of parvo. Those that have been vaccinated should hopefully have a milder case if they do get it.

#21 StephanieZ

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:14 PM

Well it definitely happens.
In my case, my vet had been in practice for more than 30 years...

I would suggest you ask your vet if vaccines are fail-safe.


:smilielol5:

My vet is my dh. LOL. I manage our hospital. LOL.

It is rare for any adult dog to get parvo. It is very, very rare for a well vaccinated dog to get parvo at any age past puppy-hood.

Dh has been in practice for over a decade. We live in a high-parvo-incidence area. He has never seen an adult vaccinated dog get parvo, and he never spoken to a veterinarian who has seen it happen either. The only vaccinated dogs he has seen get it is puppies younger than 12 weeks. It is exceptionally rare to get it at older ages. The only exceptions he has seen were older puppies/young dogs who were "supposedly" vaccinated by the breeder/owner/tractor supply/etc. These exceptions are presumably due to vaccine failure due to inproper storage or administration.

Vaccines, of course, are not fail safe. Especially if they are improperly stored or administered.

#22 Aelwydd

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 02:05 AM

:smilielol5:

My vet is my dh. LOL. I manage our hospital. LOL.

It is rare for any adult dog to get parvo. It is very, very rare for a well vaccinated dog to get parvo at any age past puppy-hood.

Dh has been in practice for over a decade. We live in a high-parvo-incidence area. He has never seen an adult vaccinated dog get parvo, and he never spoken to a veterinarian who has seen it happen either. The only vaccinated dogs he has seen get it is puppies younger than 12 weeks. It is exceptionally rare to get it at older ages. The only exceptions he has seen were older puppies/young dogs who were "supposedly" vaccinated by the breeder/owner/tractor supply/etc. These exceptions are presumably due to vaccine failure due to inproper storage or administration.

Vaccines, of course, are not fail safe. Especially if they are improperly stored or administered.


My dog was just 5 1/2 months old when he contracted the disease. We bought him from a breeder who lives out in the country on a large farm. She has a set-up where she has a few outdoor fenced pens that are all concrete, for the specific purpose of keeping all her puppies from even touching dirt until 10 weeks old. She does that to give them enough time for them to gain some immunity from the first 8 week shot.

She is sort of paranoid about protecting her dogs (with good reason, I guess). She does not take her dogs to dog parks, and she uses a vet that comes out to her farm to do vaccinations, so she does not have to risk them being exposed at the vet's office.

We picked Sam out at 10 weeks and picked him up at about 12 weeks, so he had received his second series of shots. According to the immunization records we received from her vet, Sam received his first vax at 8 1/2 weeks old, his second at 12 weeks, and we got his third done along with his rabies at our vet at 16 weeks. (He has also gotten distemper vaccination.) His shot records include the manufacturer, the vaccine numbers, and the expiration dates, if that means anything.

I don't know much about parvo, as this is all new to me. However, I have a undergrad in public health, and so it's my understanding that vaccines provide the best protection when a given population maintains a certain percentage of vaccinated animals, or herd immunity. Here in north Texas, every winter several babies die of pertussis because there is a considerable number of children who do not get vaccinated, and there are adults whose immunity has worn off and therefore susceptible. I had the vaccines as a child, and never got a booster. Last fall, I contracted "whooping cough" and it took 2 months for the cough to completely subside. The problem is exacerbated because of newer so-called "wild" strains that are considerably more virulent than those the vaccine has targeted.

After reading tons about this virus the last few days, I'm beginning to think that this is a similar situation. I know you said it's rare to see a situation where a vaccinated adult may contract parvo, but both my regular vet and the ER vet have mentioned a newer strain going around that has been sickening and killing older puppies and fully vaccinated adults. The ER vet said that every week they get new cases of parvo, and it's not unsual at all for a dog to come to her that's been properly vaccinated and still be infected. (This is also why I was taken aback by that tech's comment, because if the hospital sees frequently sees infected vaccinated dogs, why the obvious skepticism?)

I'm thinking that it's possible that with the high numbers of coyotes in the area, that these canines are carrying and introducing into the environment newer, wilder strains against which the vaccines are not fully protective. Also, there is a sizeable number of dog owners around here that are not diligent about vaccinating their dogs. IMO, a wild canine population (that is not vacinated at all) mixing space with a population where vaccination can be spotty could explain why vaccines do not offer full protection. No vaccine is 100% effective ever anyway. But when you fall under that crucial threshold for herd immunity--and around here, even if 100% of dog owners vaccinate, you'd still have the coyote population to contend with--I expect that the effectiveness would be considerably diminished.

But that's just my theory based on my limited experience and the small amount of credible resources I've been able to dig up on the subject online. It is possible that Sam received a shot at the wrong time, or maybe a shot that hadn't been properly stored, etc. However, that wouldn't explain the trend either vet has described of seeing dogs who were vaccinated coming down with the virus. Or, maybe they were just saying that to make us feel better, though I really doubt that.

In any case, I suspect that what saved Sam was early and aggressive treatment within the first 12 hours of the first symptoms. I mean, at 8:30 am, he was walking along with dh and happy, bouncing around like his normal self. Then at 9:00 am, he suddenly just...shut down. He acted very tired and depressed and then he vomited two times a small amount of foamy saliva. He wouldn't drink or eat, even when we offered his favorite treat, cheese. His eyes just looked...sunken in and sad. Hard to describe. His nose was warm and very dry. He continued to walk around (slowly) and respond to use through the day, but he just would not drink anything. By 3:30 pm, I knew something very serious was going on, because to go that long without drinking meant he was already getting dehydrated, so at the very least, I knew he probably needed IV fluids. I had no thought of parvo, because I was barely familiar with the virus, and besides, he had had all his shots, his third one several weeks previous.

We took him in to the 24/7 animal hospital and by 5:30 pm, we had a positive parvo test. They admitted him and started him on IV fluids right away. So, basically about 8 hours from first symptom to the start of treatment, which included electrolyes (potassium chloride was one, I saw the bag), two different antibiotics, anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal meds, pain meds, and something for his fever. They put him in a room in isolation, but because the hospital is always open, we could visit him at any time of the day or night. We visited him every day both morning and evening and called in for updates throughout the night. I have to say that apart from the tech's comment, I felt that the care Sam received was worth every penny. They saved his life. And that place is kept cleaner than most human hospitals I've seen!

It's impossible to know if the vaccine gave him partial protection. I'd like to think so, but his symptoms came on so suddenly that I'm glad I didn't have to try to treat him at home and hope for the best. I've been reading far too many stories where dogs that did not get to the vet in time, or were treated at home due to cost, tragically lost the battle. I just found out that the virus attacks the immune system and basically disables the dog's ability to fight off disease. I can see now why this thing is so farking deadly.
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#23 Erin

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 09:25 AM

wow.
this comes up because my dog DIED and you're laughing?
Stephanie, you're not coming across as a very nice person. I sincerely hope you re-read what you've written.


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