Thursday, 11 December 2008

Parvo Virus and Vaccinations

As the subject of Parvo virus came up in the replies of an earlier post l thought l would put a bit up about it in this posting.
Parvo is one of those avoidable diseases if your dog is vaccinated. I think that anyone that does not vaccinate their dog should be forced to smell a jar of Parvo and watch the steady downward destruction of an animal.

Some people advocate a herbal vaccine. Would you tell me how many Parvo dogs they have nursed or treated? How many years veterinary university they have passed or how many years of veterinary nursing college have they done?
I am all for herbs, but in their place, after all a lot of medications are plant based, however anyone that has dealt with Parvo will tell you. It needs proper prevention and herbs are not it.
Unless you have something you can burn to mask the smell of a body rotting from the inside.

Yes patients can have reactions to vaccines. If they have had one then a different vaccine can be used and other steps taken with future vaccines.
Treatment can be started if your pet has a reaction to a vaccine, provided the vet is informed, all too often they are not told though.
To say that vaccine made my dog sick or killed your dog as some people have done and so you are never using it again is like saying. ‘My relative was killed in a car crash so l am never riding in a car again’ it is illogical. It does not take into account what caused the car crash and what caused the death. If they were wearing a seat belt what was the car safety like, what happened to the car during the crash, what caused the crash, who caused the crash etc.

If you take an unvaccinated dog/puppy into a house that another animal has had Parvo in even several months later, you will probably give that animal Parvo. Parvo does not need direct contact between dogs to be caught/transmitted.
If you walk through a place that an infected dog defecated up several months before, even though that spot was washed. You can still carry the virus back to your dog, if it is not vaccinated.

The course is 2 vaccinations or sometimes 3 depending on the dog’s age and your vet’s protocol on vaccination, and which vaccine brand he uses with a yearly booster. Again there is some discussion on boosters. Different vaccines have different regimes your vet will discuss what theirs is with you. However a primary vaccine and yearly booster does not just cover Parvo but several other virus as well and the yearly booster also means that your pet is having a health check at the same time, in this world of cost it is really a more than 2 for 1.

Parvo is a virus that originally showed back in the late 70s. It appears to be an offshoot of a feline virus that jumped species. It took about a year to sweep round the world.
Parvo presents in 2 forms one affects the heart the other intestinal. The cardiac one is not seen that much now, in the UK anyway. The intestinal one plagues veterinary practices.

The initial diagnosis pretty much goes as follows:
A puppy or adult dog that is un-vaccinated.
May have had contact with a Parvo dog or the owner may have**
With or without vomiting and or diarrhoea.
Smell from the animal.
General demeanour.
Test performed in house -Negatives of these tests are not always believed when the above is taken into account. The patient may still be treated as a suspected Parvo case.

The patient is placed in an isolation area and on a drip. Usually the initial drip rate is very fast maybe 2 to 4 times maintenance. Maintenance is 2ml/kg body weight.
If you are lucky your vet will have infusion pumps or syringe drivers. These give a set amount of fluid/hr.

Gravity fed drips are subject to stopping due to folded legs or general body position. They may flood the patient as they have to be a higher rate than needed if the patient lies in a way that stops or slows the drip. A move to a different position can cause overload of fluids as the higher rate flows in if a close eye is not kept. It also means that you are continually moving the dog because you can bet what is comfy for the dog is not allowing a proper fluid flow.
This means placing other dogs at risk that are in the main hospital section as you need more contact with the Parvo patient.
Mind you contact is needed anyway you spend a lot of time cleaning them but it is extra contact that could be avoided.

A Parvo dog pours out a mix of blood and gut lining as a diarrhoea. They often vomit a lot as well, these losses cause dehydration. The D+++ and V+++ also upset the electrolytes.
The damaged gut lining allows blood to leak through and anaemia can result.
Secondary bacteria get in to the bloodstream through the damaged gut. What’s friendly when it is under the body’s control becomes unfriendly when a balance is upset. Dying gut bacteria gets into the bloodstream via the damage, which in turn can cause septic shock.
Temperatures are hard to take. The animal’s anus where the thermometer is inserted is very painful and so temperature taking is kept to a minimum.
We try and keep them warm, it is impossible to keep them dry they are wet with the stinking bloody mess they are sloughing out of their anus. (Diarrhoea has a bit of voluntary push behind it Parvo has none)
Young puppy’s have about a 95% death rate. Older dogs have about 80% death rate.
The best way to describe all the above is very simple:
The dog shits its self to death in a bloody, stinking, septic sludge that is almost unstoppable.

Treatment is apart from lots of fluid is pain relief, antibiotics, anti vomit medication and other drugs as the vet feels is necessary. If people have the money to pay then to pay then Virbagen Omega which is an interferon has been helpful, sometimes, in fighting the virus. Nothing can be guaranteed once a dog has Parvo. Virbagen costs around £200-£300 for the treatment (possibly more at some vets). That is on top of the bill you are already paying. It is not a substitute for any fluids, pain relief, antibiotics, etc. the patient still needs those. Virbagen is just another treatment against the Parvo virus.

Often if the virus does not kill the animal directly then the cost will. Many animals are euthanised on the grounds of cost and because there is no guarantee that after £800 to £1000+ of treatment you will end up with a live patient. Good old insurance comes in again. Provided you do not have a clause that says they won’t cover unvaccinated animals.

If you are really lucky your vet has an active veterinary staff on 24 hours a day. Not just someone that pop’s in a couple of times during the night. Or your vet practice uses an out of hour’s clinic. These have staff on 24hours a day. They are on the spot with critical patients and can take steps that may mean the difference between death and living and in some patients that is a very fine line.

To avoid the results of Parvo have your dogs vaccinated, and also your cats against the various feline viruses. A vaccine for dogs or cats covers more than one virus. It covers against the main ones for that species.

You may think that l have gone a bit overboard with the description of a dog with Parvo virus. Once you treat one you realise l have been understating what happens.

The puppy below did not make it through the Parvo and he died shortly after l took the photos. He is standing as l had just cleaned the bed out and tried to dry him off a bit from the mess he was covered in.


cambstreasurer said...

Also - if the owner has no money it will be virtually impossible for the dog to be given the inpatient treatment it needs.

Any hospital run by an animal charity will not dare to admit the dog unless it has absolutely top-class barrier nursing facilities because of the risk to the other dogs (who are also likely not to have been vaccinated.

Any decent private vet will be reluctant to admit the dog because of the risk to dogs owned by clients who do pay (who may have low immunity because they're very old, very young or ill).

Auntie Jane said...

I had a GSD girl who got Parvo in the late 1980s... One of the first dogs to get it in the UK. She did live but I was never able to get any weight on her. She must have been 2 or 3 at the time.

I don't vaccinate every year now... I have my dogs blood tested first.

Unfortunately there are a few vets that don't believe a dog has had a reaction to a vaccine if it doesn't happen instantly. But I know of many dogs that have had reactions.

People must remember that their dog should be fit and well when having a booster. It isn't a good idea to boost a dog that isn't well, as I am sure you know.

Good post with good advice. Poor puppy, but as you say, they seldom survive.

Dave the Dog said...

"You may think that l have gone a bit overboard with the description of a dog with Parvo virus. Once you treat one you realise l have been understating what happens."

No, I think you were kind and if anything, definitely understated it.

In my stray kennels we have no control over the dogs coming in, so no control over whether we get a visit from Parvo.

All dogs are vaccinated as they arrive and we we have disinfectant matting at the entrance and exits of the kennel blocks plus hand gel stations. There are signs everywhere explaining what these are, why they are there and requiring visitors to use them correctly. Some people wonder why I blow my top having seen them step over the mats and stick their fingers through kennels mesh to dog after dog without disinfecting. Aaargh!

We can't stop it coming in but do do our best to stop it spreading.
As you have said, I would love to be able to make some people deal with a Parvo dog, even if it's only cleaning up after it.

Good Article.

Vetnurse said...

Jane good point on being healthy for vaccinations, some vets will do vaccines when they carry out a spay/castrate, others won’t, till a couple of weeks post op. And if there is any sign of illness then a vet won’t vaccinate until the problem is solved.
If it is a chronic problem then a long discussion is held with the owner and if need be, things are discussed with the drug company’s.
If anyone is not happy with their pet’s treatment they do need to contact the vet as soon as possible. They are also not obliged to see the same vet and can ask for a second opinion, or move vets.

Dave when l ran my kennels l also had the “walk in the door you get a vaccination first” policy. I wish l had isolation for incoming dogs.
The kennels got Parvo in with a litter of pups. I fought like hell to save them, and all the puppies in (couple of litter loads) that caught Parvo.
I did not believe Tony (UK vet)they would all die, and l should just put them to sleep. He was right as usual, and l gave and put them down in the end. I lost track of sleep over that period.
While l was fighting for the pups I had several adults go “off colour” but they had been vaccinated and pulled through ok.
After that l had a blanket PTS [put to sleep] for all puppies that came in for about 2 months while l did as much cleaning as possible. It seemed to work.
To be honest l found it to emotionally hard to keep putting down healthy pups. It was like buses. Never see one then loads come at once. So l let them take a chance, decided any signs of Parvo, then l would PTS.

Cambs l have to say l have never known a private vet not wanting to admit on the grounds of putting other patients at risk, although l am sure it goes on.
It is usually about the cost as you say and harsh as that sounds. People just are not aware of the work that goes into a Parvo dog and the cost of medication and time.
With reference to charity hospitals, l do know the protocol of one but l won’t mention it, as to the others l do not know much of their protocol re Parvo as l do not work for them.

Annette said...

You must have you're dogs vaccinated, not just against Parvo,but against all the deseases they can get.
You must think of this before you have a dog for life.

JuliaM said...

I can just about, just about, manage to grasp why some people don't have their animals insured.

But I can never fathom why they don't have them vaccinated! If they have children, do they not bother to get them vaccinated either? Do they fly off to foreign climes without worrying about their own vaccinations?

Hell, I even have my two indoor cats vaccinated. Because you never know what the outdoor cats (or humasn visitors) are bringing in!

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