Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fecal Transplant Saves A Puppy Dying from Parvo: Felix's Story

Last Saturday, I highlighted Dr. Karen Becker's article highlighting the fecal microbiota transplantation (FTM) treatment as a potentially game-changing addition to traditional supportive treatment for parvo. There is some emerging evidence that this treatment can make a world of difference in chance of survival for infected puppies.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Fecal Transplant Saves Puppy Dying from Parvo

Felix, a sweet Yellow Lab puppy, fell ill shortly after his parents brought him home from a breeder. He was diagnosed with parvo. Even though Felix did receive his first round of puppy shots, what initially appeared like a mild case, quickly progressed in a life-threatening illness.

When your young, energetic puppy doesn't run out to greet you, you know something is seriously amiss.


Even though the initial signs appeared relatively benign, Felix's mom knew something was wrong and took him to an emergency hospital right away. Blood work revealed that Felix had no antibodies against neither parvo or distemper--his vaccination didn't take. This can happen because he still had maternal antibodies, or his immune system was still too immature at the time of vaccination. (That is why the vaccination protocol for puppies includes multiple vaccinations)

Testing revealed that Felix had parvovirus infection.


He was admitted to the hospital. The first two days, no knew symptoms cropped up. Everybody was hopeful that he'll do fine. And then he crashed and became severely ill. Felix's prognosis suddenly became very bleak. In spite of aggressive supportive treatment, Felix was on the brink of death. Nothing was helping, not even plasma and whole blood transfusions.

The situation got to the point when euthanasia was recommended as the kindest thing to do. 


But Felix's parents couldn't bring themselves to make that decision. They contacted their regular vet, Dr. Karen Becker, to report on the situation and to ask whether there was anything that could be tried.

"... I decided to give Whitney and Grant some rather unusual advice. I suggested an immunoglobulin A (IgA) supplement, which I had recommended for one of their other dogs in the past. I also recommended homeopathic nosodes for parvo. And finally, I suggested a fecal transplant." ~Dr. Karen Becker

Have you ever heard of fecal transplant treatment for dogs? 


It's a weird-sounding treatment for sure, but it's gaining a reputation as an effective treatment for potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal infections.

It is what it sounds like--poop from a healthy dog is implanted into an unhealthy one. What could be the purpose of doing that? With the poop, a healthy microbiome is introduced to the diseased intestine. The technical term is "microbiome restorative therapy." It is actually not a new idea in human medicine.

When your puppy is dying, you might as well try something crazy-sounding.


What do you have to lose?

The ER veterinarians were supportive of trying this treatment. The very next day after the treatment, Felix started to get better!

Felix has recovered and is doing great. He is a parvo survivor and other than being a little smaller, he doesn't seem to have any lasting effects from his medical ordeal.



Read Dr. Becker's article for the full story.


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What were the first signs you noticed? How did your dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.

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Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

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42 comments

  1. That's incredible, it's the first I've heard of it. I know when I used to volunteer at a shelter and a puppy had parvo, it was often a death sentence. They're so luck they had Dr Becker as a vet, I wonder how many others are familiar with this treatment. Glad to hear Felix recovered and is doing well.

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    1. I was at our hospital last week and they have actually done this treatment already. Not for parvo yet but for other severe GI diseases.

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  2. That is truly amazing, I love Dr Karen Becker's work. Fecal transplant is fast becoming popular for humans and so far seems to be having positive results, so it is great that it has helped Felix too.

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    1. Yes. Some studies and clinical experience in dogs are promising as well. Our vet hospital has done this treatment five times; not for parvo but they have their own donor dog.

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  3. What a wonderful and informative post. It provides hope and an action plan for people who have a puppy's dealing with this issue.

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    1. I'd absolutely try this. Even for other things including severe IBD. Much better than immuno-suppressant drugs.

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  4. Whoa...yes, that sounds strange but it actually makes sense. If the body isn't processing properly, then even oral meds (or injectables) aren't likely to benefit as well either. Thanks for the info.

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    1. To me it actually sounds pretty logical. But I'm weird that way.

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  5. Such an interesting story! I've heard about fecal transplant for some human conditions, that's awesome if it's a potential treatment option for parvo. So happy that little Felix is feeling better.

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    1. It's a potential treatment for any severe GI diseases.

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  6. I'm glad this worked! I know some humans who have undergone fecal transplants and it probably saved their lives. The results were extraordinarily fast too.

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  7. I had a puppy when living in Israel that died of parvo but we are talking about 30 years ago and in those days not much was known about it. I think that is why I adopted an older dog as I was afraid but Layla has her shots as I would rather be safe than sorry also

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    1. Many puppies still die from parvo even with aggressive medical care. This is not a sure-fire treatment but it does seem to increase survival odds dramatically.

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  8. Having done a lot of reading about probiotics for our Humarian post and digging deep into how they work and what they do, I have come to realise the digestive system is a hugely powerful thing and YES this makes perfect sense to me.

    In fact I would go further and say what the heck took them so long to think too this?

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    1. Probiotics are fantastic. One of the problem is that a healthy gut houses about 500 different species and even the best probiotics contain about 10.

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  9. I'm so glad this worked out for the puppy. Yes, it's better to try something and I'm in favour of not only saving the animal but not giving up on a challenge. What's possible? Is a good question.

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    1. Absolutely. Particularly since this is so non-invasive.

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  10. I've not heard of this treatment, but if it potentially works, why not! Several of our local rescue groups have collaborated and are now offering free vaccines in city parks in areas with limited resources and vet care. I think they do it once a month and are literally seeing hundreds of dogs each time.

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    1. That is wonderful. Such wonderful people can never be appreciated enough.

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  11. Fecal transplants are one of the weirdest treatments I've heard of, but when you look into why they work, it makes sense. I'm so glad it worked for Felix - parvo is a scary disease

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    1. I like weird :-) Fecal transplants, leeches, maggots ... :-)

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  12. Wow, I have never heard of this unusual treatment but if it works, then great! So happy for the puppy. And I'm so glad dr. Baker suggested this treatment instead of just opting for euthanasia.

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    1. Without this option, euthanasia was likely the only thing left to do. I love when "miracles" happen.

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  13. I have heard about this working in cats with severe IBD and gastro disease also.

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    1. Yes. Our pet hospital used this treatment for such cases already.

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  14. I've heard about the treatment for humans but I didn't know they were starting to do it with dogs too. I'm glad it worked and he survived parvo!

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  15. I'm thrilled that exciting, progressive, "new-to-vet-medicine" treatments are being explored. In conjunction wit good ol' fashioned vaccinations and following vet instructions regarding puppy socialization, dog parks, etc, we can hopefully save more lives from this horrible viral infection!

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    1. Yes, I love it. Felix WAS vaccinated but it missed the sweet spot when it would have taken.

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  16. I'm glad little Felix was saved by this procedure. I hope it saves many more dogs in the future.

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  17. I'm glad Felix made it and that you were willing to try anything. I didn't know they did fecal transplants for dogs. My sister had a dog die from Parvo decades ago, before there was a vaccine. It's an awful disease. My copy of your book just arrived a few days ago!

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    1. It is a horrible disease for sure. It's an amazing story and it looks hopeful for including this treatment in the arsenal against parvo.

      So excited you got my book, please do let me know what you think.

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  18. Wow!! First I'm so relieved Felix survived! But a fecal transplant??!! I would never have thought that was a viable solution. I'm glad Felix's parents decided to try this and ignore euthanasia suggestion. I'm going to share this too. Very informative , as always.

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    1. I've heard of this treatment used for other severe GI diseases; our hospital has used it five times as I learned last week. Not for parvo yet but it definitely seems worth of try.

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  19. I had not heard of this treatment, but wow, it makes sense and so glad it worked for Felix! Parvo is so scary, and if there is something that works, that is amazing. I love Dr. Becker and her work! Thank you for sharing this story.

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    1. Yes, I love Dr. Becker too. It is something to keep in mind for serious GI problems. I've heard about it but was skeptical about availability. Then, last week, I learned that our hospital does that. Very cool.

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  20. Jana, this is an incredible story! Puppies with Parvo often don't survive. I love that Dr. Becker was willing to try something unconventional. What a heartwarming story! Sharing.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Unconventional is the way to go when everything else is failing. Plus there had been the study in Brazil(?) I think or what the place was.

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  21. Happy to hear Felix made it. I have a human friend who recently had a fecal transplant and it doing well.

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  22. Your post is unbelievable! but I'm happy for you. Our little dog did not survive with Parvo also, and we end up in pet cremation near me we are so sad and in pain because of her loss.

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