East Lincoln Animal Hospital

7555 Highway 73 East
Denver, NC 28037



"Phyllis" - Parvo - Case of the Month

Phyllis was diagnosed with parvoviral enteritis (PARVO).  She had been vaccinated for parvo previously and had not yet finished her vaccine booster series. She was presented with the typical signs of parvo - not eating, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and dehydration. She did not have the typical bloody diarrhea that most parvo puppies usually do have.

Puppies that are 6 to 20 weeks old are the most typical age to be infected with Parvo.  Most mature dogs have been vaccinated against Parvo or have developed an immunity against the virus from natural exposure. Parvo is a highly contagious intestinal virus that has been around since the 1970s.  Puppies are infected by contacting feces that contain the virus.  The virus can survive for long periods in the environment.  Clinical signs of Parvo ususally occur 2 to 10 days after contact with infected feces.   In most cases, depression, lack of an appetite, and vomiting occur first.  Many owners believe their pet may have been poisoned as some with be so nauseated that they will drool and salivate.  Severe watery and often bloody diarrhea with dehydration occurs next.  Many have a fever. Many can die of endotoxic shock and dehydration if treatment is not started in time. A complete blood count (CBC) will often show a severe decrease in the number of white blood cells (WBC).

An ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay) test is run to check for parvo antigens in the feces. It is an in-hospital test and takes less than 15 minutes to perform.

Treatment for parvovirus includes intravenous fluids to help correct the dehydration, intravenous antibiotics to protect from secondary bacterial infection (bacterial endotoxemia), anti-nausea medications to control vomiting (
metoclopramide, chlorpromazine, cerenia), and dextrose in the IV fluids to help prevent low blood glucose (hypoglycemia).  The puppies are isolated from other dogs during treatment and for at least 2 weeks after recovery since the virus is highly contagious. Dilute chlorox (1:30) can be helpful to disinfect infected areas where the puppy has been.

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can be used in puppies that have been exposed to parvo but are not showing major symptoms. It acts by preventing the spread of the virus in the puppies body.
See the following link for a detailed discussion on all aspects of Parvo in Dogs

Phyllis had a quick recovery from her infection with Parvo. She most likely had some immunity to the disease from her previous vaccinations. After about 2 days in the hospital she was herself again - barking, playful, and wanting to eat everything in sight!  Puppies who have never received any vaccinations against parvovirus will often require 5 to 7 days of hospitalization.

Phyllis was case of the month because:

- She recovered quickly from a disease that can kill a puppy very quickly.
- She was very sweet and such a good girl to treat (even if she did receive many injections!).
- She showed her true happy, boisterous personality to us when she recovered.