Parvo facts, not opinions


QUOTED from a Facebook post "Diarrhea and vomiting in a puppy that you just got does NOT automatically mean Parvo, even if it was "tested" at the vet. They can and will normally throw a false positive if the puppy was recently vaccinated (it's a live virus they're vaccinated with). Puppies get stressed out when moved from one place to another and get upset tummies just like people can (motion sickness, etc). Most of the time these upset tummies can be settled down with a little bit of Pepto and some plain yogurt or canned pumpkin. Sadly, many vets are going to treat it as "Parvo" if the test shows positive (even if a false positive). How do you think many of them make their money? Also, FYI.....TRUE and ACTUAL Parvo is not cured with antibiotics in 3 or 4 days either. It is a virus, which antibiotics don't help and a truly sick puppy will take weeks to recover (IF they recover). Soooo, if your vet tells you they "cured" or "saved" your puppy with that $1500 treatment in 3 or 4 days, they didn't have Parvo to start with. But I guarantee your vet won't tell you that part." This was a quote that both got our attention and frosted a few cookies in the office. Because all of us are trained from a young age to trust text information, what we read on the internet, (which is like the wild west of prose) assumes the same validity as all other items we read. The difference between the written word on the internet and the written word in other mediums is that the other mediums require at least a modicum of fact or you will be subject to litigation. So far, it is incredibly difficult to hold anyone posting on the internet accountable for their words.

But this is actually a column about parvovirus and now we will explain some of the many errors in the above quote.

  • Older parvo tests were unable to distinguish vaccination response from active parvo infection. THIS IS NO LONGER TRUE. There are very few false positives with the new test technology that has been in use for close to 10 years.

  • It is true that stress can cause diarrhea and vomiting, as well as can parasites and dietary changes, including garbage ingestion when the owners back is turned. But the diarrhea still needs to be treated. A positive or negative parvo test can help us protect other dogs in the household from exposure and may rule out other causes that will be treated differently like toxic ingestions and surgical removal of foreign bodies.

  • Many pups are on the road to recovery after 3 or 4 days, the diarrhea and vomiting under control and electrolyte imbalances corrected. At this point they can usually receive nursing care from owners to continue their recovery. The time to recover can vary between puppies. Some will recover in a few days and some will be left with life-long intestinal changes.

  • Now, about antibiotics and pain medication...antibiotics are used in parvo treatment only to prevent what we call secondary infections, like E. coli, salmonella and enterotoxemia, that may take hold while the intestinal tract is raw and irritated and the immune system is stressed. Pain meds may be given because, as when you have a tummy ache, puppies hurt too.

Please do not ever delay in having your sick puppy examined! Any delays in treatment can jeopardize the chances of recovery!

While we are on the subject, let's talk vaccines and vaccinations. There are both good and not-so-good vaccines available. It is important to purchase and use vaccine comprised of the newest parvo virus strains. You can still easily buy vaccine over the counter that uses parvovirus strains from 20 or 30 years ago. That may or may not be protective. It is worth the increased cost to purchase the newest vaccinal technology. How vaccine is handled, before and after you purchase it is really important. It must ship cold from a reliable source, be kept and transported cold, be mixed just prior to use and be given aseptically. This means it can't lay in the truck without an ice pack. It can't lay on the kitchen bar unless your house is refrigerator cold. You can't mix it up and give it later. It must be given to a healthy dog in a good state of nutrition and parasite free to work correctly. It must be given at the appropriate time in a puppy's life which is not exactly the same for each pup (ask about the bell curve of immune response and breed differences in response rates). Updates need to be given at regular intervals. Ask questions and talk to your vet.

I hope this will help clear up any parvo related misunderstandings. Most veterinarians are more than willing to answer your questions and especially love to discuss how to prevent parvo and exposure to parvo.

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