Austin Pets Alive!’s Parvo Puppy ICU was the first of its kind in the nation. It is held as an example that other cities learn from as the No-Kill mission grows. Our ability to house a specific ICU for dogs with the highly contagious Parvovirus allows our city shelters an alternative to euthanasia. Whereas most cities are forced to euthanize puppies with the Canine Parvovirus because it is highly contagious and deadly, Austin’s shelters have a home to give these puppies a chance to survive with our exclusive program and intensive care unit.
Signs of parvo infection once meant immediate and absolute euthanasia for puppies and dogs at the city shelter. The city shelter (and those in surrounding counties) now calls on Austin Pets Alive! and gives a same day deadline to pick up the puppies and start treatment. The number of puppies we can say yes to when we get the call is directly related to the donations we have already acquired for parvo care.
APA! treats these highly contagious pets in an isolated intensive care unit. The clinic treated 256 dogs in 2011, with an impressive 88% survival rate (most puppies arrive well after the recommended start time for treatment). In 2012, we saved the lives of 401 dogs suffering from parvo. Watching these puppies go from being on death’s door to playing and eating again is what keeps our volunteers coming back to help treat them.
The average cost of treatment is $250 per puppy. We rely solely on donated supplies and funds to care for these little souls. If we don’t have funds, we can’t say yes when we are called on. Please help us by donating!
What Is Parvo?
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious, life-threatening virus that infects rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. The virus is highly resistant and can survive in the ground for up to 9 years, being transmitted primarily through contact with an infected dog’s feces. Anyone who comes into contact with the infected dog’s feces (a trace on the bottom of someone’s shoe as they walk along an outdoor trail, for instance) can pass the virus on to other dogs. Symptoms of parvovirus are lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. All of these can lead to life-threatening dehydration.
The disease takes about a week to treat and once the pups are free of parvo, these amazing young dogs go on to lead normal, healthy lives and are highly adoptable!
How Can Parvo Be Prevented?
Vaccinate! Young puppies are the most susceptible to parvo. Puppies can be given a 5-in-1 vaccine called DHLPP (which protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza) or a 4-in-1 DAPP (which protects against canine distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and the parvovirus) at their local vet. The first vaccine is ideally given between 6 and 8 weeks of age, with boosters given at 3-week intervals until the puppy is at least 4 months old (the series is not complete for ages younger than this). Until the vaccination series is complete, puppies should stay away from all potentially infected public ground (where other dogs have walked and fecal matter may be present) like dog parks, hike & bike trails, and sidewalks.
For updates on the ICU and for more photos, like APA! Parvo Puppy ICU on Facebook!