New Research on Parvovirus Means Saving More Lives Than Ever Before

By Jordana Moerbe

Jordana Moerbe | June 12th, 2020

Saving puppies with parvovirus was a no brainer for Dr. Ellen Jefferson back in 2008. There were sick puppies being put to sleep because treatment didn’t seem possible or treatment was just too expensive. These puppies were really adorable and highly adoptable and people still wanted them! We just had to get them healthy. So, we created the Parvo Puppy ICU where these puppies receive the treatment they need under veterinary supervision. The cost to treat them was affordable for us, and we utilized volunteers to help. A study about Austin Pets Alive!’s treatment of dogs with Parvo was recently published in Animals, an Open Access, academic, peer-reviewed scientific journal. This study highlights how many lives can be saved by following APA!’s Parvo treatment practices. 

Learn more about this study from the Austin Pets Alive! press release.

Since starting at Austin Pets Alive! in 2009, being able to help and treat parvo puppies has perhaps been the most enjoyable part of my job. Having worked in community spay/neuter prior to APA!, I knew what parvo was, and I knew it was highly contagious, but beyond that I didn’t have any real idea of how at risk for euthanasia these dogs and puppies were and still are.

Here are a few facts you should know about Parvo.

Parvovirus is very stable in the environment and can survive for a long time.

Parvo can survive in areas like parks, yards, and houses for months, possibly years in an ideal environment. This makes it highly contagious when picked up on the paws or noses of dogs.

Any unvaccinated adult dog and puppies under 5 months of age are at risk for contracting parvo.

When we vaccinate animals we are hoping to catch their immune system exactly when their maternal antibodies (mom’s protection) are wearing off. If mom’s antibodies are still protecting the puppy, the vaccine isn’t going to work and it can take up to 20 weeks of age for this to happen. In other words, a dog must receive a vaccine at 20 weeks of age or later to be considered fully vaccinated.

Parvo is very treatable!

At Austin Pets Alive! we have cared for over 5,000 dogs with parvo and have had an average of 86.6% survival. In fact, after five days of treatment, the probability of survival increases to 96.7%. Unfortunately the cost to treat parvo at most veterinary clinics is not cheap, and if left untreated, it is deadly in 90% of dogs. Because of the risk of spread, veterinary clinics have to go to great lengths to isolate and treat parvo patients, hiking up the cost to treat.

For more information, read this new study about Austin Pets Alive!’s treatment of Parvovirus and how more lives can be saved.

The Parvo Puppy ICU at Austin Pets Alive! accepts puppies from all over the state and sometimes, even from outside of the state.

Finding either an affordable treatment option or a transfer option is not easy in most areas. In fact, our parent shelter, Austin Pets Alive! opened the first Parvo ICU of its kind in Texas. To this day it is one of only a handful of parvo treatment ICU’s in the state, and even the country.

Foster homes are often the best treatment space for parvo puppies.

When we can treat puppies in foster they can still receive the medical care they need through oral and subcutaneous (under the skin) medications, they are less likely to get other viruses like respiratory infections on top of parvo, and the love and attention they don’t often receive in a hospital.

Read how AmPA! Team members, Jordana Moerbe and Jessica Powers, assisted Rusk County Pets Alive with their parvo program in this blog.

If you have questions about parvo treatment or would like information on how you can be a part of saving parvo puppies email us at [email protected].


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