Mar 12 2012

This Puppy Virus is a Killer! What You Need to Know About Canine Parvovirus

“Doc! Where have you been? I wait for your blog and have missed your postings!”

I sigh, knowing I have barely had time to manage the basics- laundry, dishes, trimming my own dogs’ nails- much less write about my trials, tribulations and triumphs. But as I take a one month sabbatical to take the course making me eligible for certification from the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, I have a moment to review the past few weeks and tell my readers exactly what I have been up to.

First, it was Canine Parvo Virus. I wrote about Canine Distemper a few months ago and stressed that despite wanting to reduce extra vaccinations, I cautioned against ceasing them altogether due to the prevalence of devastating and incurable diseases that vaccines are designed to protect your pet against. I concluded that my personal belief is that one should do a puppy series of about three vaccines, and then reduce adult vaccines to every three years or as indicated by the lifestyle and risk of the pet and disease as determined on an individualized basis.

Dr. Saria

Dr. Saria

That statement was based on Canine Distemper, the neurologic, respiratory and gastrointestinal disease the classic puppy “Distemper” shot is named after. But I should give first billing to Canine Parvo Virus, another component in the puppy “Distemper” shot which is far more prevalent and kills far more puppies in my practice than ANY OTHER disease.

Parvo is a gastrointestinal illness that is typified by bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, anorexia and terrible malaise. It strikes within 24 hours- your puppy can act 100% normal one day, then listless and less hungry the next. By the end of the second day, the puppy can be completely recumbent, not eating, vomiting and be producing a fetid, bloody disgusting diarrhea. Then the puppy dies.

It is awful. The actual disease is caused by the parvo virus infecting the puppy’s body through fecal-oral contamination. It then replicates and infects the crypts of the intestinal cells, making a formally very absorptive surface into a smooth, bloody, non-functioning strip of gut.

The subsequent bloody diarrhea is horrific and causes immense dehydration and subsequent death. Unfortunately, no antibiotics can cure it, as it is a virus, not a bacteria. Holistic approaches offer some homeopathic, herbal and anti-viral options, but the best defense against viral disease is the body’s own immune system.

Here is where the virus gets nasty. It doesn’t just destroy the intestinal lining, but it also destroys the white blood cells of the puppy’s immune system, making the virus nearly impossible to kill.

Therefore, vaccination is one of the best defenses we have developed to PREVENT parvo virus from infecting our pups, rather than struggling to treat it.

In the past month, more puppies than I personally know have succumbed to this disease. In my list of honor is one puppy in particular who put up a valiant fight. His name was Hunter. God, bless his soul and please hold him close to your heart. Grant his brief and loving human companions with peace and understanding, and place your healing hands upon their home. I also ask for prayers on the humane shelters of innumerable locations who are currently struggling with this disease and its rapid, devastating, deadly spread. I also want to thank God for Roulette, whose future was so uncertain, Deryl and I asked for prayers for her from our followers on Facebook and our friends through church.

She had a miraculous recovery and was adopted by an exceptional woman who layed her hands upon Roulette and gave her strength to fight. She has been renamed Gracie.

So that is just a tiny portion of what I have been up to. It has been an incredible, heart-wrenching and uplifting month of successes and failures, of miracles and tragedies, and a deep confirming realization of how important it is to treat these precious creatures. I heard a saying yesterday that made me close my eyes and breathe in deeply- “I will do my best, God will do the rest.” To each and every one of you that crosses my path- I pledge the same promise.

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