One Simple Step to Protect Your Dog from Deadly Parvo


Written by Katie McDougall of Virginia (USA)

I was found on a cold, wet day in March in an alley of Richmond, Virginia.  I was huddled in a corner, drenched and shaking.  The people who found me could tell I was a puppy, “four months old maybe” they said, and they tried to tempt me with treats but I didn’t move at all.  The lady noticed I had a leaf in my mouth and brushed it away. I was too tired to do it myself. She put a spoon full of peanut butter under my nose.  I tried to look at the food, but all I could do was blow a bubble from my mouth. The man with her wrapped me in a towel and picked me up and carried me into their home.  They put me in a dry, warm kennel, covered me with blankets and put a heater nearby.  The daughter came over and talked very gently to me while the man examined me and said I had no visible injuries.  He warmed my paws and body by massaging me.

It Felt So Good, I Was So Thirsty

I started to feel better and when the man’s big dog came into the room and drank from her water bowl. I went over and took a drink too.  It felt so good, I was so thirsty.  That’s when the people noticed how thin I was.  When I couldn’t keep down the water I drank, the lady said I was probably severely dehydrated and she fed me droplets of Pedialyte.  She gave me 4 ccs every 20 minutes and she was very happy when I kept that down for an hour.  Then everything came up again and the people looked concerned.  They wrapped me in a blanket and drove me to a doggie hospital.

The people at the hospital were very nice to us, but the lady started crying really hard.    The vet told the lady I have a disease called parvo that is a highly contagious virus mainly affecting dogs. The disease  is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces. It can be especially severe in puppies like me that are not protected by a simple, inexpensive vaccination.  Without treatment, 91% of unvaccinated puppies that contract parvo die.  The staff explained that animal control will not accept animals with parvo and that they would put me to sleep.

Would the humane thing be to put me to sleep?

The vet said parvo has two distinct presentations, either a cardiac or intestinal form and that I had the intestinal form.  When she tried to take my temperature rectally, the thermometer came out bloody.  She said survival in puppies usually depends on how quickly parvo is diagnosed, the age of the animal and how aggressive the treatment is. Treatments for severe cases that are not caught early involve extensive hospitalization, due to the severe dehydration and damage to the intestines and bone marrow. The common signs of the intestinal form are severe vomiting and severe hemorrhagic (bloody) diarrhea. The cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies.

They told the lady she had done the humane thing and they would put me to sleep so I wouldn’t suffer anymore.  But as the doctor was leaving the room, the lady cried out, “I want to give him a chance to live!”  Then lots of people rushed in, wrapped me in more blankets and I was admitted to the hospital.

Round-the-Clock Battle Begins The vet said for me to live, I would need to stay in the hospital and receive treatments of crystalloid IV fluids and/or colliods, antinausea injections (antiemetics) such as metoclopramide, dolasetron, ondansetron and prochlorperazine, and antibiotic injections such as cefoxitin, metronidazole, timentin, or enrofloxacin.  She told the lady that because I needed IV fluids and antibiotic injections, the lady could not do this herself at home.  They said I would have to be monitored because each time I vomited or had diarrhea, they would need to give me an equal amount of fluid intravenously to keep me from dying of dehydration.  Then the vet said that my chance of survival with treatment was about 60 percent.

A Turn for the Better My second day in the hospital my temperature had gone down to 101 instead of yesterday’s reading of 104 and the people are smiling at me.  The man and lady and the daughter came to see me this morning and they kissed me and told me I am a wonderful little boy.  They touched my face and rubbed my neck and it made me so happy.

The lady was crying again, she said that the doctor told her that there are so many cases of parvo in Richmond that the shelters cannot afford to treat abandoned animals.  Animals left unaided die an excruciatingly painful, slow death vomiting with severe hemorrhagic (bloody) diarrhea until they are too weak to eat or drink. The lady said someone abandoned me while I was sick and hurting and so weak I couldn’t run or feed myself.  She said that parvo is easily preventable and that every puppy should be given a parvo shot when they are a few weeks old.  She said none of this had to happen to me.

It’s been three years since the day my family found me.  Once I got better, they brought me home to live with them and my best canine friend, Meghan the labrador retriever.   I am now a healthy, happy boy living life to the fullest with my family.  Just look at me now! — PHOTOS

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Charles Edwards
Charles Edwardsabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W5 years ago

Please be aware that even though Parvovirus is a terrible disease, sometimes there can be reactions for up to 24 hours! They NEED TO BE ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY!
Even if it means in the middle of the night, you have to go to a canine ER unit, if there's one available.
My Peke got her shot and 10 hours later, her eyes were even more bugged-out than usual, her breathing became wheezy & laboured,
I called an ER in N'awlins who told me to get the dog to them for an antidote shot right that minute! Apparently, if I'd waited till morning, I'd have had a dead puppy!

Sheri P.
Sheri P6 years ago

What a dreadful disease! So glad the pup was rescued and given a chance to live!

Carrie Anne Brown

great story, thanks for sharing :)

Jutta N.
Past Member 6 years ago

Thank you for sharing with this story

Brigid C.
Brigid C6 years ago

DO get your dog the shot. I didn't know about the shot, my dog nearly died from parvo. He was never right afterwards and began to attack people, I think he was brain damaged. The vet had to put him to sleep. I felt awful and still thing about him although that was about 25 years ago.

Arienne d.
Arienne d6 years ago

What a beautiful story, it brought tears to my eyes! What a horrible way to die, especially for a sweet and innocent puppy. PLEASE have your pets vaccinated! YOLANDA- I'm not sure where you heard that babies cannot be exposed to animals, but that is crazy and untrue! We had a 4 month old puppy when I brought my newborn son home from the hospital. You just need to wash your hands after you touch the pet and before you handle the baby or prepare foods. The is the friend's dog vaccinated? Does he stay mostly inside? Dogs have been and always be a part of our family. Studies have shown that children raised around animals are less likely to have allergies. Having a pet lowers stress levels and shows children love and compassion. I cannot imagine a house without a dog!

Rebecca Odle
Rebecca Noiseux6 years ago

What a horrible disease when just a shot could prevent this. Also the family was couragous for giving the puppy the chance to live.