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Ask the Veterinarian/Puppy may have parvo, but does not have all symptoms


QUESTION: Greetings! I have a beautiful 16 week old Pit Bull puppy that I was under the impression at first had parvo. I took him to the Vet on Tuesday and because I could only afford $150 at the time (because I just recently lost my job) they did not do the actual parvo test. She just determined he had a fever it was 104 degrees, gave him a shot of morphine, and sent him home with a anti nausea med, amoxicillin, and panacur. All of these meds have been administered, however after being 6 days I am not seeing improvement much. The first 2 days I was able to get him to eat some boiled chicken, then he completely stopped eating and drinking, and been this way for 3 days. He has only threw up a total of maybe 4 times, and some diarreha but NO blood. Does this seem like it is parvo? Or  maybe something else? I have been forcing him water and pedialyte and just started trying to feed him gerber baby food (the chicken and rice kind) yesterday. I am a bit concerned tonight as he is acting like he is going to cough or throw up but dosen't do either, and breathing a little heavy. Please help me help my baby! Thank You in advance!

ANSWER: Parvo and other hemorrhagic gastro-instestinal diseases are all treated the same way. It doesn't matter what virus causes them. Parvo dogs always have bloody diarrhea because the virus sloughs off the intestinal wall. That's what gives it its distinct smell. They don't always vomit a lot, but I have never seen one that didn't have diarrhea with some blood.

It sounds more like your puppy has distemper than parvo. Coughing is common with distemper but not parvo. So is vomiting. They can also have diarrhea with distemper and always spike a very high fever that won't leave until they break it or die.

Also, after six days your puppy would be better or dead with parvo, but distemper can drag out for months and they just keep getting sicker and sicker. At some point they either die or they get over it, but they are always left with residual central nervous system problem, such as twitching, seizures etc. Sorry to be so brutally graphic but I'm just reporting the facts!

Since this puppy isn't any better, I would at least have a test for distemper done. I am guessing this puppy never had any vaccinations at all.

By 16 weeks a puppy should be completing their total amount of puppy shots, starting at 6-8 weeks. By 16 weeks we are giving them Rabies and their last 7 way vaccination.

They also need to be on heartworm prevention starting at 6 weeks, but that's another story.

So if this puppy is still down tomorrow it's time to take him in and get him tested for distemper. You might ask for a bag of fluids as well to give to him subQ over the period of a week so that he can stay hydrated. Ask them to show you how to give them under the skin.

All you can do is supportive therapy for them and pray they kick it, if that's what he has.
I will be rooting for the little guy and hoping that he doesn't have it.

Please let me know what you find out.

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QUESTION: Thank You for your answer and promptness! My baby has 2 of the vaccinations but it has not been completed. They included Parvo and Distemper. As of right this minute, when he seems as if he is coughing or trying to throw up....I have noticed small amounts of blood dripping from his mouth, but it is not constant, only when he acts like he's going to throw up. Is Distemper contagious? I ask because while I was moving (due to losing my job), I had to house the little guy at a family members home that is a breeder and he had 2 puppies die within 1 week of each other and within 2 weeks of me getting my baby back. He is not clear exactly what those puppies had as he did not catch it soon enough for the vet to treat them. He was just thought automatically that it was Parvo.

ANSWER: Both are highly contagious. Most people do assume it's parvo if they die quickly but distemper can kill pretty quickly, it's just not common for that to happen. It's also not a common virus anymore thanks to vaccinations but it's still out there.

In either case it takes 7-10 days for your dog to come down with symptoms after exposure. So it's possible that your dog actually gave it to those dogs. It could be either way.
Your dog may still be alive because he was vaccinated twice which is giving him a fighting chance.

In either case it's clear that he needs to see the vet again because six days is really too long for this to be dragging out. I don't think I ever saw a case of parvo go more than 4 days or so.

It's possible that he still could have that, and if he does it sounds like he is actually recovering. The bleeding could also be from him losing his puppy teeth because his molars in the back should be falling out right about now.

Gagging is not a symptom normally for parvo so you really need to have him looked over once again.

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QUESTION: Thank You soooooooo much for your input. I will try and come up with the money to take him into the vet tomorrow and have the test done to know for sure. He just threw up about 10 minutes ago and that did contain a small amount of blood, followed by urinating. He manages to get the strength to get up to potty and use the puppy pads that I provide for him. He actuallly went to the water bowl and drank a small amount by his self yesterday, but only that one time, has not been back since. Should I be worried about his heavy breathing? I mean he's not gasping for breath but it just looks like he's breathing a little more heavy than normal. It could just be me upset about this going on. I am even scared to go to sleep because I feel like I'm abandoning the little guy. I just need some reassurance that he really may be trying to recover, or in turn for the worse. What should I be looking out for if this does really go bad?

He will stop eating completely, get really dull and listless and won't want to move. His gums will get really white probably as well.

He could start having some really bad, foul smelling diarrhea as well. I can't emphasis enough how much this puppy needs fluids. Fluids, either under the skin, or preferably, IV, can sometimes be the dividing factor in whether or not a puppy makes it.

So if you can, get some fluids from the vet to give him under the skin. It's very, very important that you do this for him.

Please let me know how he does. I'll be praying for the little guy.

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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