Recent, tragic events in our practice have underscored for me the importance of properly vaccinating our pets. Vaccine technology has significantly enhanced the quality of our lives, not just for humans but also for our pets and livestock. Aggressive vaccination programs have in fact eliminated two terrible diseases from the earth, small pox and rinderpest. The suffering and devastation caused by these two diseases alone can probably never be adequately articulated. It is a great gift that we are no longer required to suffer the effects of these inestimable scourges.
One Thursday evening last month I was presented with a patient, which was in fact dead upon arrival at the clinic. As I expressed my condolences to the owners, they mentioned that this was not there only sick pet. They informed me that they had brought the other sick dog with them, which I offered to examine. I called one of our technicians to our isolation room and asked her to begin the check-in process for me.
I was greatly surprised when I returned to find four very ill Chihuahuas. They all shared similar clinical signs of vomiting, bloody diarrhea and anorexia. None of these dogs had been vaccinated. Due to the presenting signs and insufficient vaccine history, I strongly suspected that all four were infected with parvo virus. Unfortunately, an in-house test confirmed my suspicions.
Once I had arrived at a diagnosis, I discussed with the owner’s prognosis, treatment options, and cost. Due to the severity of their clinical signs we had to face the very real possibility that all four of these patients may have succumbed to this illness despite our best efforts. This family loved their dogs very much and therefore gave me consent to initiate treatment.
Our skilled technical staff very quickly begin to work with these dogs. By the time the evening was up they had placed IV catheters and each one was receiving critically important IV fluid therapy. In addition to fluid therapy my protocol for treating parvo cases includes, antiemetics, antivirals and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections.
Sadly one these little dogs did not survive the night despite our proactive attempts to save its life. It was very difficult to say goodbye to this very sick patient but I am happy to report that his three house mates responded to treatment. After approximately five days of hospitalization they were all able to return home.
I urge you to not place yourself in such a difficult situation. All of this could have been prevented if these dogs have been properly vaccinated. I have never to this point in my career diagnosed a case of parvo virus infection in a dog that has been appropriately vaccinated by a veterinarian. In my opinion, parvo is therefore nearly completely preventable. If you share your life with a non-vaccinated canine companion, schedule an exam and vaccine appointment with one of your neighborhood veterinary as soon as possible. Do not delay an opportunity to have lifesaving vaccines administered to your pet.