Recently our puppy Scarlett overcame the Parvovirus. We were so scared and had a million questions when we went through this. My fiance and I read lots of forums such as this for advice. I thought that it would be beneficial to others to hear our story:
We adopted our little Scarlett, lab mix, on Saturday, May 21st. Scarlett was just 10 weeks old and weighed about 5 pounds. She adjusted very well to her new surroundings and learned to be house broken in a matter of days. She was acting as a completely healthy and normal puppy. When we adopted her, she had already been administered her first Parvo vaccination.
On Thursday, May 26, Scarlett threw up around 5:30 pm after eating dinner. We thought that something did not settle in her stomach correctly. However, she continued to vomit, in more spread out time periods (about 20-30 minutes apart), and in each case the vomit became more and more clear/mucus. During this time, she became lethargic and not interested in eating or drinking. We consulted our family Veterinarian, who told us to take her to the emergency vet hospital immediately.
We arrived at the hospital around 8:30 pm. Scarlett had no energy and could barely hold her head up. She was continuing to dry heave at this point. The nurse took her temperature... 103 degrees. After running the test, the Vet entered the exam room, fully protected with robes and gloves. The news was that Scarlett has Parvo. She was admitted that evening, and we had no idea how long she would have to stay. She was placed on an IV to ensure that she did not become dehydrated. We weren't allowed to visit her because the virus is so contagious.
We called the hospital at least 3 times a day for updates. For the most part, she seemed to be doing fine. The vomiting had subsided, she was slowly starting to eat, and was showing signs of energy. The blood work was looking better and better.
While she was in the hospital, we sterilized the entire house. We used a bleach solution in her kennel and some toys. We replaced other toys as well as her bed. We poured bleach over areas in the yard where she had pooped.
Sunday, May 29th we received a call that we could take Scarlett home! She was given antacids, antibiotics and a stomach soothing medication. She was back, active, eating and playing like a normal puppy! But this isn't the end of our story....
Things seemed back to normal until Wednesday, June 1. Scarlett went to bed at her normal time of 10pm. She woke up around midnight to go out to use the bathroom, and she BMd and peed. We put her back in her kennel for bed. About two hours later, around 1:30 am, she was up again needing to go out. This time she peed and strained to poop. She continued to strain to poop for about another hour. She felt warm to touch, was lethargic and barely eating or drinking. We took her back to the emergency vet around 4:00 am.
Once we got to the emergency vet, her temperature was 104 degrees. She was moaning in agony and shaking from the fever. They ran some blood tests which showed that she had a sudden drop in her white blood cells and she would need to be readmitted until she makes a recovery. This time, she was on an IV but also received more antibiotics to help boost her white blood cell count.
We were absolutely devastated. We thought that Scarlett was on the mend, only to discover just 4 days later that she was still sick. It is rare, but sometimes the virus can reemerge again after the dog has been feeling a lot better over a long period of time. We were hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
Fortunately, we were able to bring Scarlett home a day and a half later (Friday, June 3). It has now officially been a week since we took her home again from the animal hospital. She is still taking an antibiotic twice a day, but is not showing any more signs of symptoms of the parvovirus. She is now 3 months old and weighs about 7.5 pounds.
Parvo is a virus which attacks the intestines and bone marrow. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), fever and lack of appetite. Fortunately in our case, Scarlett never had diarrhea. The white blood cells in the bone marrow are working overtime to fight the virus, which can cause the drop in the white blood cell count.
The best thing you can do is seek early care from a vet. Parvo animals are at risk for severe dehydration, so it is important to get fluids into your pet as soon as possible. It is very contagious for animals who have not yet been fully vaccinated. However, once you have had parvo, it is very unlikely for the animal to get it again in their lifetime. It is still important to continue the vaccinations regardless.
We were very fortunate that Scarlett did not have a severe case. Often times the animals are in the hospital for as long as week or even two. It is very expensive to keep your animal in this type of care. Even just the two shorts terms that she was admitted, the total bill was $3,500.00. This cost does not include replacing her bed, toys, cleaning products, etc. that was also involved. Many times people cannot afford to keep their animals in overnight care. In-home treatment is also an option if needed, depending on the severity of your pet's case.
I hope that someone finds this post helpful. I would love to answer any questions should you have some.