One caller's puppy that was afflicted with parvo recovered following several days of intensive treatments at a veterinary hospital. "The cost of treatment was $500," said the puppy's family who were quick to emphasize, "We hadn't expected this expense in our budget, but saving our puppy's life was our only concern."
Another — not uncommon — report about a puppy that had contracted parvo was, sadly, that the puppy "was dying and she had to be humanely euthanized by our veterinarian," said a mourning member of the puppy's family.
Parvo, an acute canine disease, was first discovered some 40 years ago. It is spread by oral contact with infected feces shed in large amounts in the stools of infected dogs for several weeks after they have been infected. Parvo can strike canines of any age but it is most common, experts warn, "in puppies 6 to 20 weeks old." The virus is carried on tails, paws, spread in contaminated boarding kennels and crates, and is also found on other items such as human shoes.
Dog owners are advised to suspect parvo with "the abrupt onset of vomiting and diarrhea."
After an incubation period of around four or five days an infected puppy or dog may begin to show signs of depression, vomiting and profuse diarrhea containing blood and/or mucus. Rapid development of dehydration in the puppy or dog will develop, according to experts.
What should the puppy's/dog's owner do if these deadly signs appear? Rush the pet to their veterinarian where hospitalization will be required for several days "to correct dehydrations and electrolyte imbalances. Intravenous fluids and medications will be used to control vomiting and diarrhea and antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent numerous other complications. Quick, intensive treatment will be required to hopefully save the infected pet's life.
Every inch of the areas where a parvo-infected pet has had access, including the home and yard, must be disinfected with a veterinary-prescribed disinfectant to prevent further outbreaks.
How can parvo be prevented? Vaccinating young puppies at the age designated by your veterinarian will help prevent this deadly canine infection, with annual boosters required throughout life.
Kennel cough is another highly contagious disease that, like parvo, tends to spread rapidly, especially among confined dogs such as those in boarding kennels. It is caused when dogs inhale "bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract which causes a deep, dry hacking cough that worsens during exercise of if the pet gets excited."
The Bordetella vaccines help prevent kennel cough and other bacterial infections. Booster shots should be administered annually or as prescribed by the canine's veterinarian. If you have a dog or puppy showing signs of kennel cough, get him or her to your vet for treatment and relief.
We are fortunate that so many health problems in our pets can now be prevented and treated with regular veterinary visits and care. If your pets are due for a veterinary check-up and preventive care, call now and make an appointment to keep your innocent, four-legged family member healthy and happy for years to come!
Paws up this week to: Hugh Gladden, Peanut and Brig; Clara Ruth Campbell; Lori Stafford and Crockett; Richard and Nancy Hughes; Dr. Greg Miller, hospital manager of the Bradley-McMinn Emergency Veterinary Clinic at 9017 Hiwassee St., Charleston; Terry and Olive Templin; Eddie and Barbara Becker; and to all the caring people who give their pets long, wonderful lives! To reach the municipal Cleveland Animal Shelter at 360 Hill St., off Inman St., call 479-2122. Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414, or write to: P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland TN 37320.