Puppy Success Story

Everyone that has a new puppy wants it to be happy and healthy. Maverick’s owners were the same, as they picked up their 8 week old pup to take home. Much to their dismay, Maverick’s health deteriorated the day after they brought him home and progressed into severe vomiting and diarrhea. His owners knew something was wrong when they brought him into our clinic- he had no spunk, no interest in eating, and didn’t even have the energy to stand.

As I first laid eyes on this little pup, warning bells went off in my head. Maverick was ill- extremely ill, and parvovirus was at the top of my list.

Parvovirus has been documented for the past 40 years. It is a hardy virus that is shed from unvaccinated dogs and spread through feces, infected soil, or any objects that have come in contact with the virus particles. Puppies are most affected by this virus, as they can contract it in their environment if their mother is not vaccinated and protected. Since it takes 3-7 days for the virus to show its effects, there is no way of knowing a puppy will become sick until after they have become infected.

The virus tends to attack cells that rapidly divide in the body. The most common area affected is the lining of the intestines, and removes the ability to digest and process any food- leading to severe stomach upset. At the same time, the virus attacks the body’s white blood cells – which are responsible for running the immune system. The body is left to fend off a virus that is preventing it from getting nutrition and depleting its defense mechanisms. It can be a lethal combination.

A tableside test confirmed that parvovirus was the reason that Maverick was so sick. His white blood cells were very low, his electrolytes were imbalanced, and his blood sugar was dropping- evidence that this virus was wreaking havoc on his body.

I reported the grim news to the owners. I explained that there, unfortunately, is no cure for parvovirus. The goal is to support Maverick until his body can recover from the damage the virus has done- which can take up to a week. I explained that even with extensive treatment, some pups are just too ill to recover. The owners, who had already fallen in love with this little pup after only 3 days, were dedicated to his recovery and wanted to do everything they could to make Maverick better.

Maverick was started on IV fluids for dehydration, appetite stimulants, medicine to control diarrhea and vomiting, pain medication and more. He was given an enormous amount of TLC by our dedicated technician, Carly. She transferred him to the emergency clinic overnight so he could continue to receive care when our clinic was closed.

I saw Maverick the next morning- and was so pleased to see he was already feeling a bit better! He was interested in drinking and even giving a bit of sass when we were checking his vitals. Maverick continued to improve after that point. His appetite returned, his dehydration resolved and his vomiting and diarrhea stopped as well.

After 5 days of intensive care at our hospital and the emergency clinic, Maverick was able to go home!

Maverick returned for a checkup a few days later, and the owners were thrilled to report that he was continuing to thrive at home. Repeat bloodwork showed that all of his white blood cells were back to normal. Since his immune system had fought off this virus, he would have no long-term effects from parvovirus, and can now live a long and happy life.

Maverick was one of the lucky puppies that was able to survive this terrible virus. Many puppies that face this are not so lucky. So what can we do? For new pet owners that are looking to find a puppy, ask for information on the parents. Ensure the parents have been previously vaccinated against parvovirus and other infectious diseases. The more dogs we protect against these diseases, the safer the puppies can be.

I thank our dedicated team at Fairmont for helping with Maverick’s care, his owners for never giving up and him, and Maverick himself for fighting every day to get better.

Written by Fairmont Animal Hospital