In February of this year, I surprised my fiancée by getting her a puppy for Valentine’s Day. After looking at pictures of several dogs on the local animal shelter’s website, we went to the shelter to pick one out. When we arrived, we were told that one of the puppies we had looked at on the website had to be put down because it became very ill. We were disappointed, but quickly became overwhelmed with joy as we walked through the yard with dozens of pups trying to gain our attention.
After much debate and interaction with the dogs, we selected our puppy, a black lab mix we named Grady. The shelter transported him to the veterinarian’s office where he received his first round of vaccines and was neutered. They also checked out Grady for any diseases or injuries. Two days later we were allowed to take home our puppy, which we were told was healthy.
Grady was very excitable and rambunctious the first three days we had him. He loved to play and interact with people. He also loved when it was time to eat, frequently finishing all of his puppy food. Although some may argue it is impossible to learn a dog’s personality in only three days, my fiancée and I were very in tune to Grady. This, along with my fiancée’s quick actions, saved Grady’s life.
The fourth day we had Grady was also a Sunday. When we woke up that morning, our puppy was not interested in his food and was very lethargic, laying in one position on the couch. This was a complete reversal of his behavior over the first three days after we took him home. My fiancée loves dogs more than anyone I know and therefore has done a lot of research on having a dog. One area she was very aware of was the dangerous virus Canine Parvovirus, better known as Parvo.
According to workingdogs.com, the Parvo virus is very contagious and attacks rapidly dividing cells in a puppy’s body. This eats away at the stomach lining of the puppy, causing vomiting and diarrhea, usually bloody. It can also harm the heart muscle of young puppies, resulting in sudden death. Additional symptoms of Parvo, according to Wikipedia.org, include lethargy and fever, along with dehydration.
Because my fiancée was familiar with the symptoms of Parvo, she immediately began saying she believed Grady had Parvo due to his lack of appetite and lethargic behavior. I suggested we wait a day and take him to the vet when they opened on Monday, but she knew better. She had seen the photos of sick puppies online and knew that we needed to act quickly, so we took Grady to an animal hospital. There is no doubt in my mind that this saved our puppy’s life.
Upon arriving at the animal hospital, Grady was tested for Parvo. The test came back positive and we asked the veterinarian what we needed to do to help him. The vet told us that because the Parvo was detected early there was a good chance that he would survive if they began treatments. The treatments consisted of injecting fluids into Grady’s back as well as providing him with an IV. Treatments occurred every twelve hours and cost $75 per treatment.
My fiancée and I are both graduate students with an enormous amount of student loans, but we were willing to pay for the treatments, no matter the cost, because we refused to let money keep us from saving our new puppy. So we made trips to the animal hospital in the middle of the night and after work for the next two days, which consisted of five treatments.
Grady began to show improvement, so the vet said that it would be safe to discontinue treatments. However, after about half a day Grady began acting lethargic again and ignored his food. He also had some diarrhea. We called the animal hospital and they told us to bring him back in. Grady had suffered a relapse and needed to receive more treatments. Fortunately, he responded well to the treatments and was able to safely discontinue the injections after a few more treatments.
Our puppy was able to survive Parvo because of early detection and treatment. I strongly encourage anyone who believes their puppy is showing signs of Parvo to go to a vet or animal hospital immediately. If your puppy does not have Parvo it will only cost you the amount of a visit to the vet, which is far less expensive than the cost of losing a pet. It is also important to pay close attention to your puppy while they are undergoing treatments in case they have a relapse like our puppy did.
I believe I needed to write this because nearly all of the information my fiancée and I found about Parvo was negative, saying that it was practically a death sentence for any puppy. I wanted to share our story to let you know that it is possible for a pup to survive Parvo. Obviously not all dogs will be as lucky as Grady, but with early detection and treatment the odds of survival can increase dramatically.
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