Animal sheltering innovation in Austin was just recognized in the publishing of results from an Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) study highlighting success in treating puppies with parvovirus. The analysis of 11.5 years of APA! monthly treatment statistics, which included the care of more than 5,000 dogs with parvovirus, shows a survival rate of 86.6 percent. This represents the highest number of dogs with parvo, that we are aware of, ever to be studied as well as a survival rate that is as good or better than that found in private practice. Parvovirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal disease which affects unvaccinated, insufficiently vaccinated, or improperly vaccinated dogs and is deadly in 90 percent of symptomatic dogs with the disease if left untreated.
Treatment in private practice settings can often cost several thousand dollars, making it an unaffordable option for many pet owners as well as a challenging population of animals to treat medically for animal shelters, especially due to its highly contagious nature. APA!’s Medical Triage and Wellness Clinic has a unique model – a dedicated Parvovirus (Parvo) Puppy ICU, a quarantined environment utilizing volunteer time and set protocols to respond and treat puppies quickly, increase efficiency and reduce cost.
“Unfortunately, parvovirus is a death sentence for exposed and sick dogs in shelters all across America,” Dr. Ellen Jefferson, DVM, the Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive!, said. “This study is important, not only for the veterinary field as we try to understand more about this deadly disease, but also for the shelter industry because it shows that parvovirus is in fact economically and safely treatable in the shelter setting. Our ultimate hope is that shelters begin treating and saving these lives that are often very adoptable.”
Findings also included: a distinct parvovirus season peaking in May and June; low-weight and male dogs were at higher risk for not surviving, but age was not a significant contributing factor; and treatment time for each dog averaged about nine hours of total care during about a seven-day treatment period.
The study, “A Decade of Treatment of Canine Parvovirus in an Animal Shelter: A Retrospective,” was published in Animals, an international peer-reviewed open access journal devoted entirely to animals, including zoology and veterinary sciences, published monthly online by MDPI, publisher of open-access scientific journals.