Parvovirus awareness!

A few weeks back I saw a series of signs that led me to believe that a young dying Pup needed our protection, care and guidance to a better future.

Me and my two friends where setting out the city for the day on a small road trip towards some mountains and caves we had discovered only to be a 40 minute drive from us. The weather was not amazing that day with a few drops of rain but nether the less we were in good spirit and set off laughing and excited! I had my friend Cara on the back of my bike and as we had just broke free of the city towers and all its manic we were passing through a much more urban area when I heard my bike make a crunching sound over a small bridge. The further we drove I knew my bike did not feel right and pulled over on the side of the road to check for a puncture, sure, I had a flat back tyre! By coincidence we realised, as we were in the middle of no where we had pulled over just outside a tyre garage – what are the chances! A guy came out and look at my bike showing my where a screw had cut through the rubber which meant he was going to need to fix a new tyre and asked us if we wouldn’t mind waiting whilst he did so… well there was no where else to go at this point! Pulling over at this exact spot lead us to a plan changer and a life desperately in need of help.

I walked back down the road to were Cara was standing with her sister, Dahlia’s bike to see she was looking at a very fragile and malnourished puppy who could barely walk. He showed himself to us then hobbled back behind a shed where he curled up into a tiny ball in to the dust which his mangy fur had now merged together with, the colours and the textures. I approached him slowly and gently until he let me run my hand along my bony spine and eventually up around his ears and chin. Knowing that he was not frightened of my presence but rather seemed comforted I soon scooped him up into my arms flea’s, ticks and all. After all agreeing that besides our plans for the day this was not something we could ignore, we decided we were going to have to take him with us and see to it he got medical help straight away, little did we know just how ill he was, we had watched him take his last steps and rescued him as he was already dying.

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On the ground in the same area we found him was a polis tiring box, a big cut out of sponge which we cut to fit the box using our keys and also a bowl we put some pork into and later filled with water when we reached a shop. We noticed he had no appetite but drank constantly once it was there in front of him. Once the guy had finished changing my tyre we tried to manoeuvre a way around getting this open-topped box on my bike whilst driving with a puppy inside it! There was no way of having him on my lap as I couldn’t reach over to my handlebars, so we eventually asked the guy at the garage if he had a bungee chord he could help us with, to attach the box to the back. He did this with no time to waste and before we knew it we had an address to a vets back in the city, which I had arranged through an animal shelter I had earlier done some voluntary work with and we were on the road. We went steady and the girls drove behind me to signal me if the puppy became curious or tried to escape from the box, but with the little energy he barely had it in him to sit up and I’m sure he was in no rush to go back to where he came from. When we reached the city the loud horns began and the hustle of the traffic worried me as this could be scary for Mowie – the name we had given him.

We reached the vets and timing couldn’t have been better because as I lifted Mowie from the box to put him onto the metal framed table his bowls lost control and what I thought was pee running down my bare legs was actually severe diarrhea – talk about biting the hands that feeds you! So after taking a shower fully clothed out the front of the vets using their hose pipe I came back in to find Mowie had been immediately put onto a drip and looked lifeless laid across the table. She ran a test for Parvovirus and this is when it was confirmed just how sick this little pup was…

Mowie showed positive for Parvovirus, a highly contagious disease which is more common in strays especially from more urban areas. Being that they recon he was no older than 4 months old and had not eaten in a very long time it was sadly not looking very good, however I kept hope!

The common symptoms for Parvovirus include:

  • Lethargy
  • Severe vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Foul-smelling, bloody diarrhea that can cause life threatening dehydration

(I have highlighted all the signs above that Mowie had shown us)

This little guy showed all the signs and unfortunately at a very sever stage, he had not been dealt with the best cards for the 4 short months of his life but I am so thankful we found him ad showed him love for even the two days we cared so much about him! I visited the vets twice the next day staying for an hour a time just to scoop him up and cuddle him in my lap. On the Sunday morning he was so exhausted he just lay there asleep whilst I comforted him in hope if he knew someone was there he might find a little strength to fight and by the evening when I re-visited he showed me hope as he desperately tried to stand though it seemed his back legs were not strong enough so he would reach his head forwards into my hands and every time I tried to take my hand away he would reach out again and again to know I was there! I couldn’t believe it, I thought he’s fighting! He’s getting better! I had even arranged with the landlords to take him home to my apartment where we could foster him until we found him the perfect forever home and though I was nervous about getting my hopes up I was so excited to show him a better life and takes him on beautiful walks up the mountains. It seemed that all the other dogs in the clinic where also suffering from the same disease though luckily for them at much more treatable and earlier stages! It became very aware to me how often this condition was seen and though some of the dogs where beginning to recover they could suffer long term effects especially damage to their liver and kidneys, their digestive system and Cardiac system.

Unfortunately it was the next morning as I just got into work I received a message from the vet saying that at 7:30am Mowie had sadly passed away, very peacefully but he had no fight left in him. I was heart broken and angry because in my head it made no sense! All the signs were there… we had stopped there by coincidence, the box and bowl was there, he showed himself to us when he had such little strength and I couldn’t understand why he had to die. That evening after work I went with my friend Dahlia to meet the vet, pick him up and take him to a local burial ground where we were able to lay him to rest. The vets were fantastic, the most compassionate woman I have met here with such a big heart for the animals, I admired her! She came here often to bury and of the animals that passed away and she was always give them a proper burial and buy the incense sticks to pray over their graves – a Vietnamese tradition. It was then over his grave I said something that put my mind at peace… ‘Without us your life would never have been known or valued and for the two days we cared for you we really did send out all our prayers around you! for that I am grateful we came across you even if it was too late, you knew what it was to be loved and did not have to die unvalued or alone, a scared baby’ Sometimes miracles aren’t always how you plan them but this was still a miracle and I will forever hold his life valuable in my heart.

Vietvet Clinic – 95 Nghi Tam Street, Hanoi, Vietnam. These guys were so compassionate and efficient, they kept me informed through out everything and even went the extra mile with helping us to bury him, if you are ever in Hanoi and find an animal in need this is the place to go and the medical costs are very affordable.

I personally know two families that have lost their dogs to Parvovirus and that is in the UK, a tragedy happened to one family who brought home a young Spoodle puppy for their children which very sadly got parvovirus and passed away. A few months later after the tragedy they brought another puppy for their children and because the house was not disinfected properly the virus was again caught by the newest addition and also became fatal! Parvovirus awareness needs to reach out as all of this can be stopped with the correct vaccinations from a young age. Read on to find out more information about Parvo and how to prevent this horrific disease spreading!

How Is Parvovirus Transmitted?

Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract parvovirus from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.

How Is Parvovirus Diagnosed?

Veterinarians diagnose parvovirus on the basis of clinical signs and laboratory testing. The Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test has become a common test for parvovirus. The ELISA test kit is used to detect parvovirus in a dog’s stools, and is performed in the vet’s office in about 15 minutes. Because this test is not 100% sensitive or specific, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests and bloodwork.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Parvovirus?

Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. The canine parvovirus affects most members of the dog family (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.). Breeds at a higher risk are Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers and German shepherds.

How Can Parvovirus Be Prevented?

You can protect your dog from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations. Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. It is usually recommended that puppies be vaccinated with combination vaccines that take into account the risk factors for exposure to various diseases. One common vaccine, called a “5-in-1,” protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.

Generally, the first vaccine is given at 6-8 weeks of age and a booster is given at four-week intervals until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age. A puppy’s vaccination program is not complete before four months of age. Older dogs who have not received full puppy vaccination series may be susceptible to parvovirus and should also receive at least one immunization. Consult with your veterinarian about how often your dog will need to be revaccinated.

Because parvovirus can live in an environment for months, you will want to take extra care if there has been an infected dog in your house or yard. Some things are easier to clean and disinfect than others-and even with excellent cleaning, parvovirus can be difficult to eradicate. Parvo is resistant to many typical disinfectants. A solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water can be used where organic material is not present. The infected dog’s toys, food dish and water bowl should be properly cleaned and then disinfected with this solution for 10 minutes. If not disinfected, these articles should be discarded. You can also use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you’ve walked through an infected area. Areas that are harder to clean (grassy areas, carpeting and wood, for example) may need to be sprayed with disinfectant, or even resurfaced.

 How Can Parvovirus Be Treated?

Although there are no drugs available that can kill the virus yet, treatment is generally straightforward and consists of aggressive supportive care to control the symptoms and boost your dog’s immune system to help him win the battle against this dangerous disease. Dogs infected with parvovirus need intensive treatment in a veterinary hospital, where they receive antibiotics, drugs to control the vomiting, intravenous fluids and other supportive therapies. Should your dog undergo this treatment, be prepared for considerable expense-the average hospital stay is about 5-7 days.

Please note that treatment is not always successful-so it’s especially important to make sure your dog is vaccinated. Do not attempt to treat the disease yourself from home, this disease needs medical attention and is often fatal!

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