the parvo handbook

i debated writing a post about parvo for quite some time but then realized that i was looking for a post like this during our nightmare, so if there's maybe just one other blogger that will find this useful, then it's a success.  

  in an attempt to make a blogger comparison, you know the way a blogger feels when they see they've lost 100 (okay, maybe one?) followers and suddenly a pit in their stomach seems so large they should just power off and deactivate? well i like to assume that's the same emptiness a veterinarian feels when they see the 'positive' results on a parvo test for a pup. except this is a true life or death situation.  it's a nightmare to all involved: the precious pup, the animal loving vet, the new and naive pup-parents, and everyone any of them come in contact with for the next week.

so i've put together the most common questions i've received and answered them to the best of my ability. if you have any other questions, please ask!  i'm not a pro, but i've learned quite a bit.

what is parvo? 
there are very technical descriptions all over the internet, but if you're like me, that technical jargon might as well be in japanese. to me, parvo is a virus that is wildly contagious, mainly in puppies, which replicates throughout the bloodstream which ultimately destroys the lining cells and blood vessels in the intestines. there is no way to stop the parvo so constant fluids are mandatory to keep the pup from dehydrating while you let the virus take its course and hope and pray the innocent puppy will fight through the worst parts. 

is there a cure?
since parvo is a virus, there's really not a cure, just a way to make it more treatable. which include fluids to keep the body and intestines flowing. in the end, it is honestly up to the dog to keep fighting regardless of the fluids, antibiotics, love, and care it receives. 
its not the sie of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog. 
{reggie and woodford}

what exactly about parvo is fatal?
it's tough to understand at the beginning what kills a parvo puppy since there are no exact yes or no answers from beginning to end.  however, most dogs that die from parvo actually die from either a secondary infection that is not treated, shock from their little body having to fight so hard, or not enough fluids from losing so much through diarrhea or vomiting. 

who gets parvo? and how is it spread?
most puppies receive vaccines to prevent parvo. however, at woodford's young age of 8 weeks, he only had one vaccine before he began showing symptoms.  parvo can live in the puppy for 7-10 before any symptoms begin to appear so even vaccinations are tough to fully rely on, especially if the puppy is around multiple pups.

a puppy with parvo bit me. can i get it?
nope. humans cant get it. there's no need to worry about that.

can older dogs get it?
yes, they can. but probably won't. don't be too afraid if you have other dogs or if your puppy has been around other dogs before being treated. the vaccinations are given at such a young age, i'm sure your dog is protected. plus, dogs are usually capable of fighting off the virus a million times better than puppies. 

can puppies get it twice?
a strong probably not. however, it's better to be safe than sorry. since their immune systems are so shot, it's safe to keep everything clean, bleached, and away from puppies to ensure they stay on the road to recovery instead of taking steps back with the chance of getting sick again. 
{woodford and his daddy makin a fire}

how did you know he was sick?
woodford began dry heaving around 2:30am and about every third time, he would spit up some clear, yellow thick fluid and his little body would just shake. it was heartbreaking. in the beginning, i figured he was still getting used to his new home, and i brought him in bed with me to comfort him. then, he became so lethargic that his little eyes wouldn't open and his body would melt into anything it was against. i called the vet and brought him in asap. as soon as we got there, i put him on the ground and he had his first diarrhea. after that, it was a ride in the fast lane to get him on fluids and begin the nightmare of a process. 

what was the scariest part?
i brought him in & he was diagnosed with parvo on tuesday. wednesday, he was doing much better and had so much  more energy. we had hopes he would come home thursday. wednesday night, he took a turn for the worse. it was so lethargic and wouldn't even open his eyes on thursday. the vet asked if we wanted to continue with treatment, especially because the cost was beginning to get expensive. that was scary. but i knew i'd keep fighting as long as he kept fighting. 
on thursday, they also told us there's a good chance he may have pneumonia. that was heartbreaking because they said a double whammy like that is almost always too much for a puppy to recover from. we decided to go through with the xrays for some type of peace of mind and i'm so glad we coughed up that extra dough because it was such a relief to know he didn't know pneumonia. 
just kennel cough... (still a nightmare, but much more easier on him than the alternative). 

what was the turn around point?
he chewed through his iv.  twice. that made my heart melt because it meant so many things. 1. he is acting like a puppy again! and chewing!  2. he wanted to get out of there! 3. he chewed through it during the night so no one knew how long he went without fluids. but even so, he was still doing great without being on constant fluids.  4. he had the fight in him to rebel. 

how do you prepare your home for when the pup comes home?
clorox. clorox. clorox. everything. we had to change our clothes every time we visited him at the hospital. i would go two times a day for about an hour each time just to hold him. i would have to wash those clothes each time and we had to clorox his kennel, toys, food bowls, and DEEP clean our entire house, towels, floors, yard, everything. if you have a pup coming home after parvo (congrats!) but also, if you're doubting if something should be cleaned or not, just clean it. clorox it if you can. if not, keep clean. even for several days after he came home, i was still running 2-3 loads of laundry a day of things he would touch, be around, play with, etc. 

what did you do when you would visit him?
like i said before, i went two times a day for about an hour each time to stay with woodford and hold him and let him know i'm fighting with him. i'm not going to lie - i would usually cry the entire time i was there because i was so scared, and usually i'd go by myself. 
i would pray over him. 
and tell him about the prayers from the other bloggers and our friends and family and tell him how loved he is already and how God is in control and to keep fighting. i would pray to God to help the vets, the techs, the meds, everything. 

what do i need to do when the pup returns home?
looooove on em!!  continue all the meds the vet will give you (which in my case, included 4 meds 3x a day) and feed the wee little fighter canned food and slowly introduce regular puppy food. his meds were metoclopramide syrup, cephalexin, metronidazole, and pro pectalin.  i fed woodford prescription diet i/d gestrointestinal health canned food.
also, when your survivor goes #2, it is important that you pick it up and spray it with a clorox and water mix to kill the virus because your pup will continue to shed the virus in its poop for about 2 weeks.  we are also not allowing woodford and other dogs to interact for about a month. the vet says 2 weeks on that also but for the safety of other dogs, i'm saying a month. i would NEVER want another dog to go through this nightmare.

how much did it cost?
love is priceless, right? ok, maybe not priceless but it was worth it. but i will say, it ain't cheap. if your fur baby doesn't have insurance, i'd recommend getting it. 

*i really tried to write this without the help of the internet in an attempt to speak non-vet-ish to help other understand the virus.  so please, don't quote me or hold me accountable is any of this is incorrect, although i tried very hard to understand. 

all in all, i can't thank everyone enough for all their support!  i seriously can't imagine what i'm going to do if i have a human child that is even a tiny bit sick. after 3 days of being woodfords mama, i was a total wreck but so incredibly happy to have him home and healthy. 



Sarah Wyland said...

This is such a great post on something that is so scary! I'm so relieved your little one is doing better. I fret over every little thing my Yorkie puppy does so I can only imagine how ridiculous I am with kids.

Sunni Dae said...

Thank you so much for such an informative post! Parvo is a scary thing to go through, I have never had to deal with it but my brothers dog got it and it was like you said a nightmare.

Come check me our at Its A Sunni Dae

Stephanie said...

One of my best friend's lost her little pup last year to complications from Parvo and I never fully understood what it was. Thanks so much for posting this and sharing Woodford's story. So glad to hear he's okay now!! :)


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