By Dr. John De Jong / Ask the Vet | Sunday, April 15, 2012 | | Lifestyle

Dear Dr. John,

After two days of vomiting and diarrhea, my cousin’s dog was taken in to be seen by a veterinarian.

The dog is a 10-month-old pit bull and has always been healthy. The vet took a few tests of his blood and the diarrhea and told us the dog has parvo. He said it was a virus and that the dog should be hospitalized, but since we could not afford the hospital care he gave us fluids there and more to give at home under the skin as well as some other medications.

My cousin got the dog from a friend who said he had gotten a puppy shot once. But we are not sure so, I was wondering if that could be why the dog got sick? Will the pup get better and how long will it take?

— D.D.

Dear D.D.,

I’m sorry to hear that the dog has parvovirus and I hope he will be OK. Parvovirus is a potentially fatal disease seen in dogs that can be avoided with proper vaccinations of puppies. It seems questionable whether this dog received any vaccine — let alone a series to properly immunize him — and this is probably why he got sick.

It seems that pit bulls are prone to the virus, but I suspect it is probably due to poor vaccine compliance by some owners. Your cousin’s dog is a case in point. Had the dog been properly vaccinated this problem might not have developed.

The treatment for this condition is supportive care maintaining good hydration, preventing septicemia with antibiotics, and keeping the dog’s strength up by attempting to get some nutrition on board as soon as possible. Most cases require hospitalization and this often leads to a pretty good success rate for recovery.

Successful recovery is harder to achieve at home, but staying on top of things — especially hydrating with fluid therapy and antibiotics — may work for this dog. If the puppy is going to get better it may take a week or more. Don’t hesitate to at least consider daily outpatient care at the veterinary hospital, which will cost less than hospitalizing but still allow for proper monitoring, improving the chance of a full recovery. Good luck!

John de Jong, D.V.M., is the owner/operator of Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic and CEO/director at Boston Animal Hospital.

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