Pipe-hose Diarrhea and Vomiting – Parvovirus Case Study

Author: Dr. Jenny Kungl

Every day we examine patients that may have episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea in their history.

Some of those patients are diagnosed with Parvovirus, which as you already know if you read the previous blog on Parvovirus, is a preventable disease with vaccination.

So, the most common age group affected with this virus is puppies – of all breeds and sizes.

This case I am about to discuss presented as a 10 month old ‘puppy’ – it is not as common to see Parvovirus in this age group because the large majority of clients have been to a veterinarian at 2, 3 and 4 months of age to have the Parvo vaccine.

Unfortunately, this puppy didn’t have any vaccines on board and thus was considered ‘naïve’ in the sense of his protection against this virus.

He presented with extreme lethargy and weakness.  He had been vomiting for 3 days before his owner brought him in and liquid diarrhea for 2 days.  He was not eating anymore and barely drinking.

On his physical exam he was weak and dehydrated – his gums were dry and tacky instead of moist and wet.

His belly was mildly painful and I could feel fluid in his intestines.

Despite his age and other potential causes of vomiting and diarrhea, his lack of vaccines in his history made performing a Parvo test our next step.  This is a quick in house test that we can run on a sample of stool.  It only takes 8 minutes for the results of this test.

So, within even 5 minutes the Parvo test came back strongly positive.  It is a color indicator test where the degree of color intensity correlates with the presence of the virus in the stool.

The test has an area called the ‘Negative Control’ that safeguards against a false positive (truly negative dogs that test positive)

Also, the test does not cross react with the Parvovirus vaccine – so it is still a beneficial test in those recently vaccinated puppies where the disease is still on our list of possible causes for the illness.

We also ran a full panel of bloodwork on this patient to evaluate his organ function, hydration, level of infection in the bloodstream and for the loss of red blood cells.

His overall bloodwork was stable at his initial examination.

We started the standard treatment for Parvovirus which is hydration, hydration, and hydration.

In addition to fluids given in the vein, we also provide pain relief, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and intensive care for warming them, spending time with them and frequent bathroom breaks.

Normally the intensive care and hospitalization under isolation from other patients can take anywhere from 3 days to 7 days.  This timeline is directly related to the time it takes for the cells in the intestines to rebuild.  Once they regrow, the bowels can then start to do their job again – which is digesting and absorbing nutrients.  This also allows the pet to start eating again and receive their medications by mouth instead of through the vein.  This then allows us to send a beloved pet home to be managed by their owners.

Our lovely boy made a full and healthy recovery.  He was in our care for a solid 4 days and will have immunity against Parvovirus for the rest of his life.