Case of the Month


Deadly Diarrhea in Puppies!

What is "Parvo"?

Parvovirus is an intestinal virus that infects the stomach and intestinal walls of young dogs.  It is highly contagious between dogs and can lead to a puppy's demise.  It is also in some of our local wildlife population including coyotes and raccoons.  It is transmitted in the feces of animals but can remain in the environment for up to 5 months.  So needless to say, we see a lot of cases in Pagosa all year round.

What are the signs?

Parvovirus can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy and abdominal pain.  It is seen mast commonly in puppies 2 to 12 months of age that have no vaccine history or an incomplete vaccine history.

Any puppy that is vomiting and has a questionable vaccine history should be tested for parvovirus at your veterinarian's office.  We can test in the office and have an answer within minutes using a SNAP Parvo test.

How can it be treated?

Hospitalization!  This is almost always the doctor's recommendation.  Parvo is treated by supporting the animal during the course of the disease which usually last between 5 to 7 days.  We focus on rehydrating and correcting electrolyte imbalances, preventing secondary infections, providing medications to prevent vomiting and protect the stomach lining, providing early nutrition and good supportive care.  Even with hospitalization, some puppies (<10%) are lost due to poor immune systems or particularly virulent strains of the virus.  Unfortunately due to the intensity of care and monitoring required, it can cost hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to treat a case.

At home care is possible, but the mortality rate can go up dramatically.  Untreated cases can approach a 90% death rate.

Early intervention improves the prognosis, co call early is your puppy has symptoms!


How can it be prevented?     Vaccinations

The biggest mistake I see new puppy owners make, is not contacting your veterinarian within the first 1 to 2 weeks of owning your puppy to evaluate what vaccines he or she will need in the next several months.  The second most common mistake I see owners make is assuming that after the first vaccine the puppies are protected.  To ensure proper protection, a puppy needs to get a complete series of vaccines.

A Closer Look

Parvovirus damages the villi in the ling of the GI tract; this decreases the bowels ability to absorb nutrients and eventually damages the barrier between the intestinal lining and the blood stream.  As the intestinal lining breaks down, the infection becomes widespread.  Puppies can die from either severe fluid loss from the bloody diarrhea and vomiting or from a secondary septicemia.

Vaccine recommendations at San Juan Veterinary Hospital

Core Vaccine schedule:

                    8 weeks Da2pp

                    12 weeks Da2pp

                    16 weeks Da2pp and Rabies

**We base our recommendation directly off AAHA vaccine guidelines.  Some changes in these guidelines are necessary for individual animals based on exposure, risk, immunity etc.


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