My little Maltapoo survived PARVO!!!
OMG, I'm so grateful that I can't even begin to describe it. PLEASE READ THIS!! IF YOU CATCH THE SIGNS EARLY ENOUGH, YOU CAN SAVE YOUR DOG!
I began writing this article in response to numerous dog owners with concerns about how to treat a dog with the Parvovirus disease. Most of the people were low income, as am I, so I felt that my dog's survival story might give some of them hope. Go to: http://dogparvosymptoms.net/treatment-of-dog-parvo/#comments to see their comments.
On Sunday, Aug. 2nd, I realized that Frodo hadn't been eating anything for a couple of days. I also remembered that his last stool had been on Friday, July 30, in the early afternoon. It was kind of a yellowish grey-brown instead of the normal dark brown, but it was a solid stool. Also, he normally only goes poop once a day, in the evening hours.
What really got my attention was that he wasn't his happy, frisky self. On both Saturday and Sunday, he just laid around and would look up at me with big sad eyes. What was also uncharacteristic was that he wasn't just looking up at me occasionally, but that he was staring up at me. I'd look away, and then look back at him and he was still staring at me. It was as though he was trying to communicate telepathically to me that he was feeling very bad and needed me to help him!
Frodo's nose was hot and dry, and his belly looked unusually hollow. As I said, he hadn't been eating, but he was still drinking water as of that Monday morning. However, I strongly felt that something was terribly wrong with my beloved little pooch!
I know that Vets cost even more on the weekends, so I waited until Monday to take Frodo in. I'm on a very low fixed income as a disabled widow, trying to survive on less than $700 a month. Most months I can't even keep my phone, internet service, and TV turned on because of my Rx costs.
I hadn't bothered to call ahead for an appointment with the Vet because I was afraid they'd tell me that they were booked solid for several days... So because I wanted Frodo to see a Vet ASAP that day, I just took him in.
When I walked in, I told the receptionist that I didn't have an appointment but that I was afraid my dog was sick. Of course Frodo and I had to wait while she went to go talk to the Vet about seeing Frodo. It turned out that because one of their appointments hadn’t shown up, the Vet could see us almost right away, and we were led to an examination room.
When the Veterinarian came in, she gave Frodo a general exam ($55.00) and asked me for the symptoms. She concluded that Frodo probably had Parvo, and said the Parvo test would cost an additional $55.00. When I told her about my financial plight, she responded that in that case, the best I could do was to try and make him as comfortable as possible. She didn’t actually say it, but I definitely got her meaning: make him comfortable until the end came!
I couldn’t help myself and burst out crying. I’d never had a dog of mine get Parvo or any other disease before, but I knew that it was disastrous and deadly for even the large dogs, let alone my little Maltapoo!
I explained to her that when my home was foreclosed last January ’10, they called Animal Control to come pick up all my livestock - 30 rabbits (adults and babies) and 30 chickens (adults and chicks - 3 chicks had hatched the morning the house foreclosed), as well as my two wonderful cats. The only pet I was able to take with me in my car was little Frodo, and I couldn’t bear to loose him after I’d lost all my other animals. To this day I haven’t been able to find out what they did with my two very loving, beautiful cats!
All I could do was offer to pay her and pay for the test and meds, but then not pay my rent. Honestly, I meant what I said because I live in an old, small 1977 motor-home now, and pay monthly space rent ($224.00 for a small patch of sand) plus utilities and my meds, which eats up every cent of my SSA widow’s benefit. However, if my only choice was to forgo paying my rent so I could keep my little buddy alive, I’d happily do it and move my old RV out to the forest to live. I may yet have to do that… not because of Frodo’s Vet bill but because of the financial drain in general.
The Vet left the room, and after awhile, she came back and said, “You’re in luck. We’ve got a couple of Parvo test kits which will expire in a few days, so I’ll give Frodo the test at no charge.” Wow! Oh, you can’t believe how grateful I was, and I let her know it!
So they carried Frodo off to do the blood test, and I sat in the room with a box of tissues, and cried to myself. I was hoping that the test came back negative, and that there was only a simple illness to explain Frodo’s odd behavior over the last few days.
Unfortunately, when the Vet finally came back in, she gave me the bad news – the test was positive. I especially noticed that they hadn’t brought my little one back to the exam room where I was waiting! Of course, I couldn’t hold the tears back at the news, and just kept saying, “I can’t lose Frodo! He’s all I have left!”
Then the Vet Technician stepped up and told me to hold on ‘till she made a phone call. When she came back carrying Frodo, she told me that her call had been to the local Humane Society. Because I caught Frodo’s symptoms early, and because other than the Parvo, he appeared in good general health, they had agreed to pay up to $200.00 for Frodo’s treatment. OMG! What could I say? I just started bawling again, with the intermittent, “Thank you! Thank you so much!!”
The Vet Tech gave me a bottle of Amoxicillin for the viral infection, some Cerenia to help calm his stomach so he wouldn’t vomit whatever I managed to feed him, and two bags of I.V. Saline Solution with electrolytes, along with a bag of needles. She showed me how to force the pills down his throat, get him to swallow, and then check to make sure he’d actually swallowed the meds, and not just move the pills to the side of his mouth. She also showed me how to insert the needle under the skin so I could give him 200 cc’s of the I.V. solution twice per day.
She recommended that the foods I should try to get him to eat were:
- Baby Food
- Boiled chicken
- Boiled hamburger
- White rice
- Chicken or Veg broth
Forget the cooked white rice! What a mess that was trying to force any down his throat! He may have gotten a couple of grains down, but 99% of the rice was wasted because he forced most of the rice back out of his mouth with his tongue. Every time I tried to feed him something he’d just turn his head away and refused to open his mouth.
Well then, it was time for some tough love. I got out my turkey baster, sucked up some baby food, forced his mouth open, and squeezed the food down his throat. Naturally he tried to spit it out, but because I was holding his jaws shut, he was forced to swallow the food. So that was it. I couldn’t make him chew solid foods like chicken or rice, so I force fed him several times per day with pureed baby food. I also used the turkey baster to force him to drink Gatorade and canned broth after each feeding.
One tip about the force feeding and drinking… Your prep work before feeding your dog should include taking all the implements, food and drink items outdoors or next to a tub. By implements I mean a comfortable chair, turkey baster, small spoon, damp wash cloth, and towel. Organize your food and drink items and loosen any lids prior to picking up your dog.
At first, the only way to get the baby food down was to thin it with chicken broth so that he’d be forced to drink it when I squeezed it from the baster. Gradually, I was able to feed him regular baby food with a small spoon.
He hated it, and I hated doing it to him, but that’s what pulled him through.
After a few days of that, I was cooking myself a hamburger and I noticed that the smell had piqued Frodo’s interest. His head had come up and that little button nose was sniffing away! So while I was eating my burger, I offered him little pieces of burger and he ate it. Wow! That was the mile stone I was looking for. He wasn’t eating much though, and still wasn’t drinking his water, so I had to keep up with the force feeding and drinking for a few more days.
Gradually, he began eating again, and, with a vengeance! What a welcome change. He began drinking water on his own again, and even showed signs of his old, happy self. The latter is what really heartened me, especially when he actually began shaking his toys, chasing a ball, and prancing back, panting with a smile on his face.
I’ve got my baby back!! He survived the Parvovirus!
What an ordeal for me. I’ve never been a nurse, but pulling Frodo through over a two week period must be what it’s like to work at a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. And I didn’t have anyone to share the work or take over a shift. But it was soooo worth it, and I’d do it again if I had to!
The worst of the ordeal was when an acquaintance stopped by, learned that Frodo had Parvo, and kept repeating to me that poor Frodo was done for and that he’d soon die. He even said that I should really just have the Vet put Frodo down to ease his suffering! I firmly invited the guy to leave and take his negative energy with him! I haven’t seen him since, and good riddance!
The total Veterinarian bill plus all the meds totaled $169.00. Because the Humane Society agreed the pay off the bill, they asked me to come volunteer enough time to pay the money/loan off. I’m very glad to do it, because I simply didn’t have the cash to pay the bill, and I’m just so grateful to the Humane Society for stepping up and helping! Though disabled, I’m sure there’s some desk work I can do for them.
Now here’s the thing I’ve concluded about taking Frodo to a Vet. Vs. trying to use a home remedy and hope for the best. First, you really do need to know what to expect for your dog, whether you choose to use the meds or not. If not, at least have the compassion to have the dog properly euthanized rather than let it die a long, painful death.
Hopefully you’ll choose the medication option, because that’ll give your dog the best fighting chance to beat Parvo. The thing about the meds is that the dosage is based upon the dog’s weight. By taking your dog to the Vet, they can weigh it and prescribe the proper dosages.
For example, Frodo weighed in at 15 lbs., 6 oz. So each medication was prescribed at the proper mg.’s based upon his weight.
- Amoxicillin, 250 mg., 3 times per day until gone to control infection.
- Cerenia, 16 mg., 1 time per day for a max. of 5 days, to control upset stomach.
- 200 cc of I.V. Saline Solution with Electrolytes two times per day, subcutaneously until gone. I went through two bags (1000 cc each) of this Solution, and had started a third when Frodo finally began drinking water on his own. This minimum amount of solution is required to keep a small dog hydrated. I supplemented this with water, Gatorade, and broth administered by way of the turkey baster.
Another money saver: Instead of leaving your dog to stay the night, or a week, or several weeks at the Vet clinic, take it home and administer all the meds to the dog yourself. Saves you hundreds of dollars, and YES, you can do the med-thing yourself!
It’s exhausting to do all this because your dog is so sick with Parvo that it doesn’t want to swallow anything. Force feeding a dog can be very messy, time consuming, and requires a real mental effort on your part to maintain a calm, patient demeanor. It also requires that you expend a lot of physical energy to keep your dog still while you force his mouth open for the food, and then keep his jaws shut until it swallows the food (or liquid). For a physically disabled person like me, this part is especially exhausting.
During this recovery time, I also made sure to hold Frodo more often, cuddling him, and letting him know I love him. If you have a large dog, get down on the floor with him. I really do feel that dogs can read their owner’s mood, feelings, tone of voice, etc. So I feel that gentle physical touch, keeping a positive attitude, and frequent, loving vocalizations are important factors to help ensure that your dog will survive this sort of dangerous illness.
This aspect of close, intimate care for your dog is something which I don’t feel Vet Clinics can properly provide for such gravely ill dogs. Even if I really did have the money to do it, I still wouldn’t have let Frodo stay at the clinic overnight! Although I don’t know why, my dog has separation issues, so leaving him at the clinic would have caused him even more stress – which is very detrimental to a seriously ill dog.
Because the Humane Society took care of my bill, I didn’t think ‘till now about another option. If you have to foot the bill for the meds, you might check to see whether your local pharmacy or feed store has the necessary drugs and I.V. equipment. It’s probably less expensive than getting them from the Vet’s office. And this is also where you’ll want to go to buy either the 5-in-one or 7-in-one vaccination to give your dog.
The Vet Tech told me to wait for one week after Frodo finished his antibiotics to give him the vaccination shot. She even volunteered to come over to my house to show me how to give him the annual shots myself. I think that these shots have to be given in the muscle tissue, not just under the skin, so I want to watch how it’s properly done. I’m so grateful to Kim, the Vet Tech, because she understands that I can’t afford to pay the Vet $55.00 every time Frodo needs a shot.