This week has been especially difficult for one of our Red Barn families as well as all of us here at our clinic. If you have visited us within the past few days, you’ve heard about our challenges.
Last Monday a calm, yet worried, pet owner walked through our doors. Her six-month-old dog Scout had been acting pretty unusual most of the weekend and after a hike in the mountains, he could barely walk himself back to the family’s vehicle. Scout’s owner knew there was something seriously wrong when this next level of strange behavior included a dark colored vomit.
After being carried into our clinic, we quickly began assessing Scout’s condition. Poor circulation, rapid heart rate, dehydration, and a 105.2-degree temperature were just a few of the clinical signs observed. We then learned that Scout had an incomplete set of puppy vaccinations. We all looked up and paused for a moment. Veterinarians recommend that puppies begin their vaccinations series at approximately 8 weeks of age, which includes three DAPP-C boosters in monthly succession. In this case, Scout had only received one booster. We quickly reached for our Canine Parvovirus test kit, applied the fluids required, and crossed our fingers.
The first day Scout was seen by Dr. Tori he was listless and very weak.
Positive. Scout was positive for Canine Parvovirus. A virus that primarily affects unvaccinated puppies and proven to be nearly 80% fatal. There is no treatment to eliminate Parvo once it affects the body. The virus does not directly cause death to the animal but rather destroys the lining of the intestinal tract and some blood cell elements.
We quickly placed an IV catheter and began running fluids through his emaciated and dehydrated frame. We needed to begin to provide support to his failing body. Scout was admitted under intensive care observation and isolated from all animal and most human contact. His owners were given specific instructions to return home and begin disinfecting their home, yard, and all other spots of contact. Scout’s family still had two other dogs at home and they were given vaccination boosters to be certain of their protection.
Day after day, Scout’s chance of recovery seemed to take two steps forward and one step back. Our technicians worked together to care for his intensive needs while maintaining an isolated area. (We apologize for the burning scent of bleach all week long. We went through gallons and gallons and we are certain that no one within a mile radius has nose hairs any longer.)
By Thursday, he was still being manually fed every hour and his fluids running around the clock. He was able to stand and walk for limited periods outdoors to relieve himself only to then collapse with exhaustion. By Saturday, we began to see more of his personality return including the welcoming sight of a wagging tail.
When we returned to full staff on Monday morning, we were all greeted with an unexpected sight. He had devoured his kibble, drank every drop of water in his bowl, and was howling and wiggling his little tail with all of his being. It was safe to say that Scout was feeling like his old self again. Ready to break free from his isolation and get back to his humans. He was no longer suffering from his severe symptoms nor was he contagious and was sent home with medication and a special diet to help his recovery.
After 7 days of intensive hospital care, Scout was sent home with no signs of Parvovirus. This fortunate puppy was so excited to be home but couldn't kiss us enough!
We tell Scout’s story for many reasons but the most important is this: ensure that you are properly vaccinating your pets. We have spoken to many pet owners this week about “parvo dog” regarding the importance of the vaccination schedules and we will continue to talk about it. You might not ever think that it could happen to your animal but certainly no one expected this to happen to Scout. If you are unsure of how to safely vaccinate, please call us!