Parvo-Virus: This is Roxy’s Story
Roxy June 2009
I brought Roxy home with me after answering an ad selling pit-bull puppies in the newspaper June 3rd, 2009.
The second I saw her, I immediately fell in love with her. She was the sweetest little thing with the smoothest red hair, and the biggest brown eyes I’ve ever seen. She came right over to us, among all of the puppy frenzy going on (they were lively puppies) and began chewing at our shoes. I knew she was the right pup for me. Roxy was 2 months old when I brought her home. She was very energetic, spontaneous, and for being a 2 month old puppy, she was very well behaved. She loved to chew on just about everything she could get her teeth on, from the carpet to three pairs of my shoes. I finally got her a few chew toys to munch on while she finished teething. Life with Roxy was great! She greeted me in the mornings when I came home from work with a wagging tail, and a “mommy- where’s my food” grin. She loved taking walks, and running around the kitchen table.
She was my little princess. I even went out and bought her a little pink leather collar with spikes and rhinestones on it so she could show it off when we walked. The one thing I really miss about her is that she was a cuddle bug. She loved to take naps, and when she woke up- watch out! She was a pistol. Before I got my Roxy, I had really never owned a dog by myself. I knew they were supposed to have their Rabies shot, and heartworm medication, but I had no idea how EXTREMELY important it is to have your puppies immunized as soon as possible. I thought I could wait until she was 6 months old to have all of her shots updated. Looking back, I really wish I would have been more knowledgeable about the whole thing, as things probably wouldn’t be the way they are now.
Roxy June 2009
Roxy started to get sick July 29th, 2009. She was eating normal, and getting plenty of water and sleep, so I figured she had either gotten into something that upset her belly, or her system didn’t like the food I was feeding her. Never did it cross my mind that she could have a very deadly virus that attacks puppies who haven’t had their shots yet.
On July 31st, Roxy started having a few bouts of diarrhea, and vomiting… It looked like mucus of some sort, really frothy and clear. Still, I thought, there is something wrong, but what can I do? By this time, Roxy didn’t want anything to do with her food, so I was pretty much blaming the food brand switch I had recently done. I babied her, and let her lay in my lap, hoping she would get over whatever this was, and planning on getting her the old brand of food. She slept very close to me that night, and had gotten sick at least 4 times on my floor.
August 1st, 2009. Roxy was very incoherent. She was very lethargic. Her eyes were very glassy, almost glazed looking. She would blink, and look when I called her, however she wouldn’t walk. I had to pick her up to get her to the couch. She didn’t want to do anything, and was only blinking once in a while. Her breathing was steady, but I was very concerned. I ran a warm bath for her, hoping this would help her belly settle a little and laid her down in the tub. She wasn’t acting at all like herself, and it put me into a panic when she wouldn’t even hold her own head up in the water. I held her head for her, finished her bath, and I made the decision to call the emergency vet’s office, and ask what these symptoms could possibly be, and if I should be extremely worried. Most importantly, how do I make my little girl feel better?
“That sounds like it could be Parvo Virus.”
For as deadly of a virus this can be, especially for unimmunized puppies, I had no idea what she had said to me. I asked what that was and how to treat it, and she basically told me that I should bring Roxy over as soon as possible for a Parvo test. I dried Roxy off, recruited my sister’s help, and rushed off to the vet clinic as soon as I hung up. The vet tech didn’t explain to me how deadly this virus was, or how it was spread, basically told me to get there for the testing, and not to put her on the floor when we got there.
They had a room open immediately for us when we arrived. I carried her in like a baby, and laid her on the steel table. She didn’t even flinch at the cold metal. She laid there staring at the wall. I waited and waited (after agreeing to pay upfront of course) for the results of the testing for this Parvo.
Ten minutes later, the Doctor came in to look Roxy over, and consult with me about her condition. He checked her teeth, had her sit up and lay back down, checked her reflexes and her heartbeat… all of the normalcy’s. He told me he was going to make a note of her condition and then we would discuss her situation and the outcome of the testing. He made his notes, turned around, looked at me and with an emotionless face told me she was over 10% dehydrated and that she was not going to make it through the night. She tested positive for Parvo Virus. He told me we could try to attack it aggressively with treatment, however her chances were slim. He mentioned that she was in awful pain, and that I should consider euthanasia.
My heart dropped. I felt hopeless. I immediately started to cry. Surely there must be something we could do for her that would ensure she would make it. My baby was only 4 months old… she could pull through this. She had to.
He gave me a total of 3 minutes to think about it. I trusted his evaluation of Roxy, and that we had no other option, as to make one last act of love for her and not let her lay in pain for a few hours while she slowly faded away. I made a decision that I still don’t like. I didn’t want her to suffer, and for what? My own ignorance. I blame myself. Roxy was put to sleep on August 1st, 2009 at 7.01pm. I’ll spare you the details, however I will tell you, that for me, this was the single most traumatizing thing I have ever witnessed. She didn’t suffer, it was very humane and fast, but I will never forget it for as long as I live.
The doctor made a point to tell me how important it is to have your puppies and adult dogs vaccinated at each appropriate age group. I felt like this was all my fault. Which- Yes, It is. I should have known better. I should have gotten her shots for her when I got her. I should have taken her to the vet sooner. I should have known. But I didn’t. I have never felt so horrible in my 25 years on this earth as I did that day. To know one simple shot would have prevented this from happening to her.
How could I not know!?
In all actuality- there are large amounts of folks who are not aware of Parvo Virus and how it takes thousands of puppies each year. I surveyed at least 150 people asking if they knew what this virus was, and to my amazement (and horror) maybe 2 people had heard of it, but “weren’t 100% sure they could spot the signs”. Can you believe that? I’m sure you can. This is why I wanted to get the word out to anyone who happens upon it…
If Roxy’s story reaches just one person who “didn’t know” maybe I could save one puppy from missing out on their life they are entitled to. Who knows, maybe if you read this, and you ask someone if they know what Parvo is… you could tell them, and they could tell someone else.
Parvo strikes puppies at a very young age. Adults can get it also, but usually it does not kill them. Parvo attacks the weaker immune systems, like that of a puppy. Parvo strikes suddenly, and doesn't give you much time to think about treatment.. Once a puppy gets Parvo, it can be a matter of hours to days before the pup dies a horrible death.
Warning signs of Parvo include… lethargy - no longer playful, the puppy looks afraid to move or is hiding. The puppy starts heaving and throwing up or having diarrhea. You may see both symptoms or just one. Blood may or may not appear in both.
If you think your puppy may have Parvo…please do not try and force it fluids. The pup has to go to the vet. The vet can give the pup antibiotics through an IV to help heal the stomach lining. The vet will continuously have a saline solution for hydration going into the puppy. The sooner your baby gets treatment the faster they can get help, and hopefully return home to you. If you aren’t sure, its better to be safe than sorry, have your pup checked out as soon as it starts showing any signs of illness and remember… VACCINATE!
Where does Parvo comes from? Parvo can be anywhere…most notoriously the ground. Most puppies pick it up from sniffing or ingesting another dogs feces who has shed the virus. Someone can have it on their property. When they go to the store where you shop, you can then pick it up on your feet. When that happens, you carry it home with you. Also in pet stores, everyone with animals goes there and often their animals are allowed to walk around, much like you may be doing.
Preventing Parvo Virus- Its very important that the pup is with their (vaccinated) mother until the appropriate age. The mother’s vaccinations create immunities that the pups use until they have been fully immunized. Make sure that your pups are staying on their vaccination schedule. Don’t let the puppies chew on any shoes. Don’t take the pup out anywhere unless it’s a cleaned area (bleached). Remember to let the bleach dry before allowing the pup out. The safest time to allow your puppy out to play is after they have had all of their shots. Always try and get a puppy that is verifiable, meaning you can actually locate the vet that vaccinated your puppy if yours didn’t. Always get your pups (or any pet for that matter) all of their shots on time. Do not take this lightly… She was only 4 months old…