Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Recovery From Parvo: Tidus' Story

by Shawn M. Finch, DVM

Tidus is my nephew Travis’s Pit Bull puppy.  He is the cutest and sweetest thing I have ever known.

He stopped eating for a day.

He looked MISERABLE.  So did Travis.  My heart broke twice.

Tidus had received one vaccination against parvo disease at 7 weeks of age.  He was now four months old, and projectile vomiting liquid on abdominal palpation and projectile vomiting liquid with the movement it took to gently place him on the scale.

In house testing confirmed that Tidus did indeed have parvo, and it was hitting him hard.  

His saving graces were a Dad who got him in quickly and a vet team crazy about puppy survival.

Tidus was hospitalized on aggressive fluid therapy, anti-vomiting medication, pain medication and antibiotics to guard against secondary infections.

Tidus, the lover of all things human and canine, was sentenced to solitary confinement, with minimal handling – and that by a gloved and gowned tech whose heart was breaking because she could not hold him on her lap and tell him all would (probably) be ok, but could only change his line and administer medication and replace his bedding (again) as aseptically as possible, and scrub and bleach after each encounter, to the detriment of her scrubs, socks and shoes, but to the salvation of our other canine patients and her pups at home.

The team made a decision to give Tidus the warmest, fluffiest bedding we had, knowing full well that the decision was also one to do DAYS of Tidus-only laundry (now with extra bleach!) so that he could have the comfort and love of home, if not the snuggling and attention he was so used to and so craved.

Everyone on the team made concessions so Brooke could handle Tidus for his whole stay, and they all saw all the dogs and all the puppies, and the parvo virus stopped here.  Everyone asked if Tidus was ok and how he was feeling, and everyone gave me the hugs they were wanting to give Tidus, because they knew my stomach hurt too, if only a thousandth of how much Tidus’s stomach hurt, as we all walked the puppy through this together.

Everyone took care of Travis knowing Tidus is his world, and Grandma swooped so Travis could focus on Tidus’s recovery NOW and deal with the financial side of his illness LATER.

Tidus was started on a mild diet on day two – oops!  Wow, that was a mistake for sure.  

Tidus was started on a mild diet on day THREE.

AND THEN…Tidus ate a bite of i/d canned dog food and did not barf.  

He made it outside before he pottied.  His stomach came out of its full-on clench and stayed comfortable and relaxed even with my daily jerk move of deep abdominal palpation.  He lifted his ears and his tail when he saw sweet fourteen year old Ginger, the retired bird dog, playing out in the yard behind the hospital.  ”Not today, Tidus,” I whispered.  ”Soon.”

And soon did indeed come.  The spark in his eyes is back full force.  No longer can you see his skeleton.  No longer does his head hang down and his stomach tuck.

Once again, Tidus perpetually looks as if he just told a hilarious joke and wants to jump into your lap to tell it again.  And he does.  I missed you puppy.  I am so very glad you are back kiddo.

Dr. Shawn is a veterinarian and mom in Omaha Nebraska. She writes for CareFRESH, Life With Dogs (new!) and Omaha.net.

Dr. Shawn graduated from Iowa State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in 1998 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. She works part time at Banfield, The Pet Hospital of Papillion, seeing small animals: dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, rodents, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Her veterinary passions (besides her patients, of course!) are preventative/wellness care, pet owner education, positive reinforcement training and solving pet overpopulation.

You can also connect with Dr. Shawn on Twitter or Facebook


  1. Parvo is such a heartbreaking virus. I was destroyed when we lost our Riley to parvo; she was such a sweet puppy and it made me realize how important rescue is.

    1. So sorry about Riley, didn't know that you lost one to Parvo. Yes, it is very nasty and evil. Cookie is just going to get vaccinated tomorrow, actually (she only had her puppy shots so far).

  2. Thank you for posting Tidus's story Jana! Kimberly, I am so sorry to hear about your Riley!