Alrighty everyone, Kaitlin here, and today I’ll be writing about my experience with Parvo, how we got through it and my cleanup/sterilization methods.
For the introduction, I adopted Athena when she was 8 months old, and as it turns out she came to me with Parvo. Now if you don’t know what Parvo is, let me tell you its an ugly, ugly, illness.
Parvo is believed to originate from cats and, like many illnesses comes in different forms. The less common is the cardiac form, it attacks the heart, typically of very young puppies. When this occurs unfortunately it often results in death. The more common of the two forms is the intestinal form (this is the form Athena had) the symptoms here are vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, extreme weight loss, and lack of appetite. The majority of all Parvo cases occur between six weeks and six months old. While still nursing pups gain antibodies from their mom and that protects them, after that they rely solely on vaccinations. The good news is the Parvo vaccine has been basically perfected, and almost no dog who has been vaccinated gets parvo.
So what happened? I always vaccinate and spay my animals, how did Athena get parvo?
Well, as I said, she came to me with it. She had all her vaccinations and still got this horrible disease, how? She didn’t get them on time.
After beating myself up for a couple of days while she was under round the clock care, hospitalized at the vet I looked at the dates, and her previous owner didn’t get her vaccines at the appropriate time. This is problematic because if Parvo gets the opportunity to strike, it will. It can live in the ground for up to 50 years. 50 YEARS! Which means parvo could be pretty much anywhere. Once you’ve had a dog with it, your entire home has parvo. If an unvaccinated puppy were to come into that area they would catch it and spread it.
How did I figure out she had it? Well, Parvo is tricky, it spreads through the body without many observable symptoms. It starts by stripping the inner lining of the stomach and the intestines, causing the lack of appetite. Along with feeling warm Athena was lethargic, which isn’t entirely abnormal for great danes, as they are lazy dogs, but she wouldn’t want to get up to go outside. This was red flag number one. Red flag two was her lack of interest in food. I thought she may have a sensitivity to the food I was feeding her so I made her chicken and rice because that’s gentle on the stomach. When she wasn’t interested in that I tried feeding her a treat (a kind i know she adored) and she took it and continued to spit it on the ground. So I took her in, feeling crazy I walked into the vet insisting my dog was sick because she wouldn’t eat a treat. The vet thought I was crazy at first, but quickly took us back to perform the SNAP test for parvo and sure enough she had it.
The vets guessed I caught it within the first week which is really early to catch parvo, but gives the pup a better chance at making it. In just this short time she had lost about 20 pounds and was dehydrated. They carried my baby into the back room and wouldn’t let me see her (to prevent me spreading it to my environment or to my other two dogs) and they told me all I could do was wait. The problem with parvo is even if progress is being made, things can turn bad drastically, so there’s no way to know if your dog will make it or not. This to me was terrifying.
While she was in intensive care at the vet I got instruction to throw out every toy, chew, blanket, pillow etc. that she had come into contact with while she was sick. For the things I couldn’t throw out (My couch, mattress etc.) I had to find a way to clean them that would kill the parvo. Heres the hard part, parvo doesn’t care if its hot, cold, dry, or wet, it can live practically anywhere. The one at home cleaner that can kill it is bleach. Now don’t go empty the whole bottle of Clorox on your couch, or your carpet. The solution can be diluted (so it doesnt bleach the fabric) but still kills the parvo. The ratio is one part bleach to 30 parts water. I went and bought a gallon of bleach and mixed one cup of bleach in 30 cups of water, filled and old spray bottle and sprayed every surface in my house. I washed my clothes with half a cup of this solution and bleached the grass outside (to try to kill most of the parvo there to protect other dogs). It took me four days to clean everything in my house but it is well worth it.
After about a week in round the clock care Athena was able to come home, she still wasnt eating or drinking but her stomach lining was repaired and that was all the vet could do. So she came home with me under the condition that I would give her subcutaneous fluids and a cocktail of different medications. Of course I agreed thinking it would be no problem, but when it came time to stick her with the needle I couldn’t do it. I did everything the vet told me to do, make Athena comfortable and make sure she’s laying down, prep the fluid bag, attach the new needle, scratch and ice the area to numb it, but I couldnt for the life of me stick her with the needle. So I took a breather, told myself this would be good for her and it’s helping her and finally I was able to stick her. She yelped a little in pain and I cried for a good thirty minutes.
After this first needle poke, Athena and I became much more comfortable with the process and it became second nature. Finally after three days Athena started drinking and eating water! My Precious baby made it through this horrible illness!
Now I bet youre all wondering, why does this matter to me? Well hopefuly you never have to go through this, but if you do, hopefuly this gives you hope. If not hopefully it convinces you about the importance of vaccinations (and at the appropriate times) for your pups wellbeing.