New Outpatient Treatment for Parvo

Recent research at Colorado State University Vet School has demonstrated that it is possible to treat parvovirus infection in puppies on an outpatient basis. The study included 40 cases, half of which were assigned to one arm of the study, which received the gold standard of inpatient care. The other half were treated with the outpatient protocol under investigation.

The survival rate for the inpatient group was 90 percent, and the survival rate for the pups treated at home was 85 percent.

This would be noteworthy under any circunstances, but when you add to the data the fact that inpatient care typically costs $1,500-2,000. and the outpatient protocol costs $200-300. this study is mind-bending!

The outpatient protocol utilizes maropitant, an anti-nausea drug for severe vomiting that can be given subcutaneously (SQ) once a day; convenia, an antibiotic given SQ once (which lasts two weeks); and SQ fluids given three times a day.

Of course, no breeder would ever have a parvo outbreak, right? Unlikely, but there are no guarantees. Unfortunately, no matter how conscientious you are, it is possible for a puppy, or even an entire litter, to become infected with the parvovirus. Let me tell you how it happened to me.

I was in the habit of giving the parvo vaccine at 8 weeks of age. The veterinary literature indicates that the immune system doesn’t mature until about 8 weeks. Any vaccines given before that time may or may not stimulate immunity, even if they are vaccines developed to overcome circulating maternal antibodies.

I attended a show circuit, staying in my RV, at a show grounds that has been hosting this circuit for longer than the 50 years I’ve been going to dog shows. Several of the days there were torrential rains, and water cascading down the slopes from one campsite to the next. I went home. parked my RV in my kennel building/garage.

Several days later, one of the puppies developed diarrhea and the next day vomited a couple of times. I treated him symptomatically; he bounced right back to full health and appetite.

Assuming that he perhaps had ingested something that upset his GI tract and was back to normal, I gave all the puppies their first shots. Two days later the pup who had had the mild upset went to his new home. Thankfully, he never had another symptom, but it turns out that what he had was parvo, and by shedding it into the puppy pen he infected the remainder of the litter of six with what must have been a whopping dose of virus.

Next thing I knew, 1 had five pups with diarrhea. Still not knowing they had parvo, I treated them symptomatically, but only two got better. Three became very much worse, to the point that I took them to the emergency vet clinic. One was moribund by the time they were seen.

I was totally shocked when the parvo test (which 1 figured as a “rule out” procedure) was positive. I assumed they had and share the information with your vet. I hope you never need it!

— Pat Rock, AKC Gazette Breed Columnist ·

© AKC Gazette, February 2013 · Lakeland Terrier Breed Column · Reprinted with permission