I write this post with tears in my eyes and a knot in my stomach. I was really hoping I wouldn't have to write this. But I promised I'd let you know as soon as we knew what was happening, and that's what I'm doing now.
The vet's office called, and the most recent rounds of tests (the ones they sent out to another lab) came back positive for Canine Parvo Virus (CPV) or "parvo" as it's commonly known.
Now, before we all panic, we do have several things going for us.
1. This strain (whichever it is -- I'll ask about that later when I meet again with Dr. Wagner) did not present like typical Parvo. None of our pups had the awful explosive, liquid, bloody diarrhea so typical of this terrible virus (they had softer stools, like cowpiles, but never liquid), nor did they have the foul smell associated with it (Miss Pink had one episode of hinky-smelling stuff when we took her in Monday morning, but that was the only poo that smelled bad and it wasn't even diarrhea and it wasn't bloody and she was one of the last four to start symptoms). The pups' primary symptoms, in fact, were vomiting and fever. And all of their white-blood-cell counts (with the exception of Sky, who is rebounding quite well now) were elevated (that's good; it means they're fighting the infection), and not depressed or wiped out as is the usual case for parvo.
2. None of the pups have died. Parvo can have a substantial death-rate in puppies, and if it's going to kill them, it often will within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. We're past the 48-hour mark with all the puppies now.
3. All of the pups had already received one vaccination for Parvo before all this started (they're not completely protected until they've had three rounds of vaccine, but at least they'd started building antibodies with that first shot).
4. All of the pups are and have been parasite free all along (meaning no other issue is taking its toll on their GI tracts).
5. All of the pups were in good, sound health with good solid body weights going into this. They have more "umph" with which to fight the virus than other pups who contract Parvo in a weakened condition.
6. We started aggressive treatment very early (most within two hours or less of the onset of their symptoms). Miss Sky and Mr. Green went longer between their first symptoms and the start of their treatment (12 hours and 3 hours respectively), but both received aggressive care and are rebounding well (nearly ready to come home now).
7. All of the pups are and have been receiving TamaFlu, which in clinical studies has been shown to reduce the longevity and severity of viral symptoms in puppies, including those caused by Parvo.
8. All of the pups are and have been receiving antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
With Parvo, you can't "treat" or "cure" the virus; you can only treat the symptoms. And with Parvo, the virus itself isn't usually what kills a puppy; it's the associated dehydration (and imbalances caused by dehydration) that does.
So please do rest assured that all of the pups are being carefully watched and being carefully hydrated (all are still in isolation at the vet's). And they're all receiving aggressive, appropriate care.
When caught early and treated aggressively, Parvo can be survived and survived well -- it may make the pups sick for a bit, but then they can completely recover with no long-term harm. And when a pup survives Parvo, the pup's resulting antibodies are almost a better protection against reinfection than additional vaccines (though the pups should still receive the vaccine according to the recommended vaccination schedule).
Despite the knot in my stomach, we're still very optimistic (as are the docs). The pups really are responding well to treatment. And they'll stay in treatment while the virus runs its course.
It is also possible that their test results are a false-positive for Parvo: false-positive tests can occur within 14 days of receiving the vaccine, and our pups received their first dose of vaccine at their 6-week check up 10 days ago.
Whether it's really Parvo or not, the treatment is the same: aggressive support care and protection against secondary infection.
If you'd like to know more about Parvo, these resources come from solid, reputable organizations and should be current and accurate. You might find them helpful.
American Veterinary Medical Association's brochure What You Should Know About Canine Parvovirus
Drs. Foster and Smith's Pet Education page on Parvovirus
Working Dog Health Articles page on Parvo
I'll be going in to see the pups shortly and will report back this evening about how they're doing. I think you saw yesterday that they're doing really well, so please don't panic when you read the Parvo information supplied at the sites above. Our guys really are doing well (that noisy isolation ward was music to my ears!).
I'll be in touch. Hang in there with us; this is tough, and completely unexpected, but we really do think all the pups will be fine.
I'll post again in a few hours.