Chihuahua sisters fight parvovirus

Precious is a 17 week old Chihuahua who was brought into Vetwest Canning Vale by her owners with her very sick sister, Teddy Bear. Both puppies had already had their first vaccinations but before their second vaccine could be administered Teddy Bear had become extremely unwell. She had stopped eating and drinking, become very lethargic and developed vomiting and diarrhoea. An in-house pathology test revealed Teddy Bear had parvovirus infection. This is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular systems of dogs. Even with intensive treatment some puppies or dogs will not survive the infection.

Teddy Bear was immediately admitted to our intensive isolation ward and treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics and pain relief. After daily blood tests and 3 days in hospital, she recovered and was able to go home.
The day Teddy Bear was admitted, her sister Precious was given a health check and it was decided that it would be a good idea to give her the second vaccination that she was due. This vaccination would hopefully boost her immunity to parvovirus so that she would not catch the disease from her sister. Unfortunately we were too late. Three days after Teddy Bear was admitted to hospital, Precious had developed the same symptoms as her sister (off food, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea). The pathology test confirmed she also had parvovirus.

Precious was admitted to our isolation ward in hospital and had to stay a whole week. During that time she received three different types of antibiotics, pain relief, medication to help stop her vomiting, and lots of intravenous fluids. This was on top of our team of dedicated nurses' syringe feeding her every hour of the day, and giving her lots of TLC.

Every day Precious was in hospital she had a blood test which dictated how she was treated. On Day 4, Precious was so sick she was vomiting every half hour, had a very low protein level and we thought she might not make it. Luckily, Precious has very caring owners and they elected to treat her with plasma, a semi-substitute used to increase protein levels. Finally after all the above treatment, Precious started to turn the corner. By Day 8 our vets were sufficiently happy with Precious' progress to allow her to continue her recovery in the comfort of her own home with her owners.

We are glad to report that after a couple of weeks and a few more visits back to the hospital for rechecks, Precious has made a full recovery. Having weighed only 1.48kgs when she was first seen, and dropping to 1.09kgs in hospital, she is a little fighter who has been lucky to beat this horrible disease.

Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral infection that can be transmitted not only directly by ingestion of virus particles, but also indirectly (for example on the boots of a person). The best method of protecting your dog against parvovirus infection is by vaccination. At Vetwest, we recommend a puppy vaccine regime at 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age followed by annual vaccinations to maintain immunity. Puppies should be isolated for 2 weeks following their 12 week vaccination to allow the immune system time to develop an effective immune response.

Click here to read more on Parvovirus in dogs.

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