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The Puppy Killer You Need To Know About

There has been a rise in Parvovirus cases seen in our practice and the heartbreaking part is that this is a preventable disease. The Parvovirus causes the puppies to stop eating, start vomiting and having bloody diarrhea. The electrolyte deficit is such that they perish from severe dehydration and blood loss. How can we prevent these tragic deaths?

We must begin with a planned mating and pregnancy. Many pet owners are excited to have their pets reproduce for many reasons; often it is to teach their children about the miracle of life, to perpetuate a dog gene line, to share the puppies with friends and family, and in some cases just to make money off the puppies. I will not get into the ethical dilemma of breeding when there are millions of unwanted pets waiting to be adopted but regardless of the motivation, the female dog should be screened for health issues way before they get bred. The health of the mother and her vaccination status directly affects the health and immunity of her offspring. This means that the mother-to-be should have at least two booster vaccines against parvovirus and other preventable diseases like the Distemper virus.

It is equally important to screen the mother for internal parasites like roundworms because these will cross the placenta and result in puppies being infected before they are even born. Roundworms and other parasites can also be transmitted while the mother is nursing the puppies. In order to avoid parasite-infested puppies, the mother needs to be dewormed prior to conceiving. The reason veterinarians recommend regular parasite control is twofold: these worms affect the puppies but also are zoonotic! Zoonosis means that it can be passed down from the pet to the humans. The kids and immune-suppressed humans are the ones at the highest risk of infection. In addition, intestinal parasites wreak havoc in the puppies' intestinal tracts causing them to stunt their growth, not absorb the nutrients and not form a strong immune system which will put them at the mercy of invader viruses like parvovirus. There is a big correlation between parvovirus and severe infestations with roundworms.

How can we treat these puppies with parvovirus? The treatment is expensive because of how labor-intensive it is. This is a super contagious disease so the patients have to be kept in isolation. The veterinary nurses and doctors need to gown up and follow infectious diseases protocols similar to Covid-19 hospital wards. These pups need intravenous fluids and nutrition, changing of bedding often, and medications around the clock. even with all these, there is a high fatality rate for this condition. In our practice, we add integrative medicine to the treatment protocol. We do acupuncture to stimulate the immune system and control the fever, we add blood heat formula in the febrile stage to help fight the virus and use food therapy concepts to increase their Qi. It is very rewarding to have these patients survive the ordeal but it is even better to see pet owners being responsible by inoculating their puppies with their three sets of parvovirus boosters.

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