Parvo Virus

Puppy with blood in poo.

It’s one of the most common consults we see as small animal veterinarians. There are a lot of things that can cause it, so we ask owners a number of questions to try and narrow down the most likely explanation. At the top of our list of questions is “Has your puppy had his vaccines?” And we breathe a huge sigh of relief when the answer is “Yes,” and we are presented with a vaccination record signed by a fellow veterinarian.

Sadly, all too often the answer is “No, I’ve been meaning get around to that. Can you do that today?” or “The breeder told me he was but I didn’t get a card,” or sometimes “No, I don’t believe in vaccines.” Without any evidence that a vaccine has been administered correctly by a veterinarian, or even that a vaccine has been given at all, it would be irresponsible of us to assume that the puppy is fully protected. And unfortunately any animal that is unwell cannot receive a vaccine because the immune system is already working hard to fight an illness, so asking it to deal with a vaccine can be overwhelming. This means that it can cause an existing illness to worsen, and that the vaccine itself may not be effective. So we reach to the refrigerator, not for a vaccine, but for a Parvovirus test.

The next several minutes are nerve wrecking as we wait for the test to run. With a bit of luck, the result is negative, and with a few more questions we identify another likely cause of the bloody poo. Common culprits include:

* Change in diet – Puppies (and kittens) have very sensitive tummies. Sudden changes in food can cause diarrhoea and/or blood in the faeces. We always recommend that any pet’s food be change gradually over a period of 7-10 days.

* Dietary indiscretion – This is a fancy term for eating something they shouldn’t, a very common scenario in puppies as they tend to explore the world with their mouths. It can cause problems for the same reasons as sudden changes in diet, as well as the potential to pick up a variety of infections.

* Parasites – Gastrointestinal worms tend to be the most common cause, though there are also few other parasites that can cause diarrhoea. Many owners are told that their new pups have been dosed for worms, which can certainly be a sign of a sensible breeder, but remember that not all parasite treatments are created equal. There are a variety of medications available, each of which will treat a different assortment of parasites, so it is important to seek advice from your vet to ensure that your pet has been covered for the most relevant ones based on his/her symptoms and likely exposure.

Inevitably though, some Parvovirus tests will turn up positive. And with great concern we must inform owners that their beloved little pup has a potentially fatal infection. We generally try to avoid scaring owners with statistics, but the truth is that the mortality rate of Parvovirus infection in puppies can be as high as 90% without aggressive treatment. In the best case scenario, the gloves and plastic gowns come out, the puppy is admitted to hospital, and spends the next several days to weeks in an isolation ward being treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, nutritional support, and intensive nursing care. As a veterinary team we do everything we can, and thankfully often do succeed in returning the pup to health, but it does require significant investment of both time and money. And sadly, despite our best efforts, not every puppy will survive. It is absolutely heart-wrenching for vets and owners alike to watch a vibrant young life withered away and lost to a preventable disease.

Please believe that we want the best for your little pup just as much as you do. We know how quickly they become part of the family, and we love hearing the stories of mischief and mayhem, the difficulties in house training, how well he gets on with the cat (or how much they torment each other!). We also understand that between breeders, vets, fellow pet owners, and Dr. Google, there is a lot of information available, and it can be difficult to suss out what is the best advice. This can be particularly true with vaccines, which are a frequent point of controversy these days. Our job is work with you to make the best decision for your pet’s health, so please, talk to us about your concerns. But please also trust us when we say we would much rather reach to the fridge for a vaccine than a Parvo test.

Your Pets Dental Care

Does your dog need a dental?

The Facts

  • 4 in 5 dogs have some type of dental disease by age 3.
  • 2/3 of a dog’s tooth is under the gum line.
  • Untreated dental disease can spread to your dog’s VITAL ORGANS.

Teeth To-Do's

BRUSH at least 3 times a week
Teeth and gums weekly
Vet-approved chew toys
A professional cleaning

Dental Do's & Don'ts

Dental care for your pet isn’t just about fresh breath and a sparkling smile.
Do – Take advantage of food, treats & toys
Look for specially formulated food & treats for dental care. Invest in chew toys of high quality! Chewing is natural instinct for your pets and can help to remove tartar from their teeth.
Don't - Ignore the signs
Consult one of our veterinarians if you are worried about your pet’s oral health.
Do - Check your pet’s mouth weekly
Signs of trouble? Red, white or swollen gums, Brownish tartar on teeth, Strong breath, Excessive drooling, Loose teeth & Mouth ulsters
Don’t – Avoid brushing your pet’s teeth!
For best results, get your pet used to brushing their teeth at an early stage and it will soon become part of your pets routine.

Are you unsure?

Don't hesitate to ask your veterinarian while in your checkup, they can't take a quick look at them and advise you on the best treatment if necessary. Dental work is all carried out in our Arklow practice. Please don't hesitate to contact us on 0402 33744 (Arklow) or book an appointment through our online form.

Packing on the Pounds?

Animal obesity is a big problem in Ireland. The cause?

Overfeeding and Lack of Exercise

Health Risks For Overweight Pets

Heart / Respiratory Disease
High Blood Pressure
Kidney Disease
Decreased Life Expectancy
Ligament Injury

Need a quick, easy way to tell if your pet is overweight?

Tips to keep your pet in shape

When in doubt, consult your veterinarian!
Proper portions vary based on age, weight and activity level
Limit excessive treats, table scraps and snacks
Exercise daily (start slow if your pet is overweight)

Keep Your Senior Pet Healthy and Happy

Pets age much faster than humans. Pets can be considered seniors at the age of 5-8 years old. Large breeds tend to age faster than smaller breeds.

Dental Care
Your pets teeth need special attention when he is a senior, healthy teeth can help maintain his quality of life
Senior pets may require a different type of food which are easier to digest and have different nutrients
Vet Visits
Senior pets should see the vets a minimum of every 6 months. These exams will be more in-depth to spot any sign of diseases
Weight Control
Older dogs end to gain weight, while older cats tend to lose weight. Both of these can be health risks for a senior pet
Parasite Prevention
Immune systems in senior pets are not as robust as in younger animals. Check for signs of fleas and ticks, and make sure your dog is on heart worm medication
Mobility Maintenance / Lifestyle Changes
Keeping your senior pet mobile is important for its health, talk to your vet about what level of exercise is appropriate. Changes may include spending more time inside and providing areas to sleep that don’t involve stairs