My firsthand experience with Parvo

Hear what Abby, our vet tech student has to say about her experience with a patient suffering from Parvo virus here at Brook Farm Veterinary Center.

Astor - Happy Life Animal Rescue
Parvo treatment
Pet's Name
Parvo Virus

On the evening of January 6th, I received a parvovirus inpatient case from Happy Life Rescue of Patterson, NY. The incoming patient was a 3 month old male labrador retriever/shepherd mix from Alabama named Astor. Upon being briefed on the intake of the incoming infectious case, Dr.Clark educated me on the specific treatment plan for Canine Parvovirus. We then gathered all our necessary examination instruments and medications prior to admitting him whilst donning PPE and I then rushed out to the parking lot to receive Astor. I was greeted by Happy Life Rescue’s founder, Lorraine Forster, who then opened up her trunk unveiling Astor in a carrier. I could barely see his pee wee sized self considering his black coat on a cold, rainy evening. Once I flashed a light into his crate, I opened the door to two little dark eyes and a bundle of joy who appeared cowered under his towel with apprehension. My heart gushed but I knew I had to start his treatment STAT considering how unwell he looked. I quickly bundled him up warmly with his towel then carried him out of the crate and into my arms all while soothing him with my calm, assuring tone until we reached the isolation ward. Dr.Clark & I rushed to start his treatments, first examining him and then medicating him. I then placed him into his cage with some dry food, wet food, a bowl of water and his towel. I then started administering his subcutaneous fluids in his left and right shoulder while he remained laying down on his towel. He didn’t have any appetite or desire to drink water.

I usually arrive early to work to administer lodgers’ medications and complete other technician duties, but the next day, I arrived at work even earlier than usual so that I could specifically nurse Astor prior to my other morning technician duties. After donning my PPE, I walked upstairs to the canine isolation ward and opened the door to Astor sitting comfortably in his kennel with his towel wrapped around him. I analyzed his state by checking his MM (mucous membrane) color and analyzing his ward seeing he did urinate a small amount. I then acknowledged that he still didn’t eat any food or drink his water. Good thing he was receiving subcutaneous fluids that were maintaining his hydration. I heated up some wet food for him to create an irresistible waft that may stimulate his appetite but he still wasn’t interested. I then started his fluids and gave him his metronidazole medication. I called Dr. Clark to give her a status before she arrived at work and I sat with him while he received his fluids. I considered making his time somewhat better for him by playing some calm instrumental puppy music but once I played a piano melody on my phone he looked very scared and started sniffing and looking everywhere to find where it was coming from. I immediately stopped the song because he seemed so frightened. Once he finished his fluids, I went back downstairs and started seeing my appointments with Dr.C and once Lorraine’s son arrived to pick up Astor, I got him situated in his career with his towel he came with and told him it was a pleasure being his nurse. I also told him that he would make a great dog to whomever adopts him and he would continue to be such a charm. I educated … on his medications and how his treatments went and what they consisted of and he happily received Astor and thanked me for nursing him back to health.

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious canine virus caused by canine parvovirus 2. It belongs to the family: Parvoviridae and the genus Protoparvovirus. The virus is a single stranded DNA virus. If a canine is unvaccinated more importantly puppies less than 4mos old, or unvaccinated mothers with developing fetuses & unvaccinated dogs are most susceptible for the virus to infect. This virus transmits oranasally through contaminated matter such as fecal matter whether it’s 4-5 days post infection or even more than 1 week post recovery. When a dog sniffs contaminated stool parvovirus virally enters the respiratory tract. Upon entry, viral replication then occurs in the pharyngeal lymphoid tissue where there is a great systemic spread following. Incubation period of this virus is from 5 to 7 days. It can affect cells that present active mitosis because the virus prefers to target actively dividing cells. The target cells are present in the small intestine, bone marrow, and heart. They are specifically known as small intestinal crypt epithelium, lymphopoietic (B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes & NK cells), hematopoietic cells (stem cells for platelets, white & red blood cells) and developing myocardial tissue of puppies. The infection causes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, no appetite & severe dehydration as a result. Diagnosis can be conducted from foul, metallic odorous feces,  medical history, electron microscopy, virus isolation and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Treatments involve replenishing hydration status & maintaining electrolyte homeostasis with fluid therapy, and administering medications such as antiemetics & antibiotics. Impacted me working at BFVC by What I learned: What was eye opening about the experience was the importance of preventing dehydration through fluid therapy and why antiemetics and antibiotics were given. The more I studied this virus I became fully aware as to why specific treatment tasks in the treatment made sense according to the symptoms that were present in the infected patient. Some takeaways for pet parents to leave with from my experience. Please stress the importance of the distemper vaccine. The distemper vaccine or DA2PP involves more than just a distemper virus. It also contains the adenovirus type 2 virus (hepatitis), Parvo and parainfluenza. Distemper is known as 1 of the 2 important core vaccines. This is avoidable if you vaccinate and ensure your dog does not come into contact with feces of those that are unvaccinated or pups under 4mos who may have not received the vaccine yet either. How I felt about Parvo prior to a first hand experience I wasn’t aware it was this easily transmitted and fast at spreading in the body. How I view Canine Parvovirus now is much different than when I first received an infected patient. I understand it better and am more aware of the clinical signs. I stress the importance of the distemper vaccine even more considering I have seen parvo and have nursed a patient with it. I use this experience to not only educate but to advocate for dogs to receive the vaccine so they do not experience the clinical signs of parvo (vomiting, diarrhea, no appetite, etc.).

More real stories from our clients...

"Dr. Clark was incredibly kind and thorough, checking everything"
Read Story