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Parvo?

Species: Dog
Breed: English Mastiff
Age: 1-2 years
My English Mastiff started vomiting on Friday. By Saturday he had extremely watery diarrhea, vomiting, and couldn't keep anything down. We got him to the vet Monday morning. He tested negative for Parvo and Giardia. His vet said xrays were unremarkable and nothing suspicious on bloodwork other than what she would normally see from a dog who has been vomiting and diarrhea. She said that she believes its parvo, even though a second test came back negative. She said it just smells like it. He is one years old, and had only his first 2 shots in series. His vomiting has stopped, but he has lost a lot of weight and still has horrible diarrhea, if you can call it that. Its complete water. He is on an IV for fluids and antibiotics. My question is could it be something else? I went to visit him earlier and he could barely hold his head up. Also the vet tech said he just fixed the IV because it stopped. Well it stopped again while I was there and he said its fine he would fix it when I left. Is that ok? Should he be off fluids? What if it stops overnight while noone is there? Also, I have a 4 yr old dog who had all of his vaccinations. He hasn't shown any signs of parvo, but his breath has almost the same smell as my other dog. Could he be getting it? I recently switched their food to Earthborn Holistic Great Plains, but they are not completely switched over yet. The only other new thing is we got a mini potbellied pig a month ago. Any ideas or suggestions would be helpful. I also might add that Max, the EM who is sick, is scared to death of strangers, which is why he hasnt finished his vaccinations. I don't know if him being there with strangers could be making him more depressed.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Max is so unwell.

I definitely know what the vet is talking about when she said she could smell parvo. Parvo virus diarrhea has a very distinct smell to it. I have heard some people say that it could be because of blood in the stool but I can tell you that most of the time when I smell "parvo diarrhea" it truly is parvo. The symptoms really fit as well.

However, even if this is not parvo it is obviously something very serious. The treatment for severe diarrhea is exactly the same as what we do for a parvo dog no matter what the cause is.

I have had cases that were parvo that tested negative on initial tests. No test is 100% accurate for parvo.

The most important treatment Max can get right now is his IV fluids. The reason why dogs can die from parvo is from dehydration. Getting him to drink is not enough. The only way to keep a dog hydrated when they have this type of diarrhea is with IV fluids.

If they stop overnight it's not a big deal. The vet will take measures to try to keep the drip running but occasionally things happen. People always ask if they can take the dog home to keep an eye on the fluids there but this is never a good idea as you would have no idea what to do if they stopped and would just worry about him.

If your 4 year old dog is vaccinated properly then the risk of getting parvo is extremely small. Also, this is very unlikely to be connected to the new potbellied pig.

It sounds like Max is getting really good care. I hope he is better soon!

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

I went to visit Max today. Was there for 4 hours and no diarrhea. He had some early but it seems to be less frequent, yet still very watery. We've tried getting him to eat, but the only thing he wanted was ice cubes. He's not a picky eater and just isn't interested in anything. He also has had horrible drool with a black tint to it, seems to be getting clearer, but his nose had tons of black dried stuff in it. He had a catheter in his back leg, as the other 3 blew out. My vet sent a fecal sample to the lab and nothing was seen in it there either. My other dog hasn't had much of an appetite, but not sure if it's just because Max isn't here. He seems to be missing him. No diarrhea, but he does have a smell to his breath, sort of sweet but something else, can't really describe it. Sort of reminds me of Max's smell but not sure. Also I've been feeling very lethargic with not much of an appetite, just thought it was due to the stress this is all causing me today. Felt nauseous today and felt as though I had to vomit but just a little clear mucous came up with a spot or 2 of red blood. Have had some loose stools but nothing I thought was cause for concern, although I thought today it may have had the smell from my dog's breath. I'm not sure if I'm going crazy, but is any of this possible?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Well that's good news that the diarrhea is getting less frequent.

I am guessing that the drool is because of nausea but it's hard to say. I'm not sure what the black is though.

There really isn't anything I can think of that would be contagious between dogs and people that would cause you to be not feeling well as well. Of course though, if it keeps up I would definitely see a doctor.

Max may need to stay on fluids for a few days.

I hope things continue to improve!

Dr. Marie



Customer reply:

Hello Dr. Marie,

My heart is broken, as Max has passed away on Monday. I went to see him on Friday, and brought along my other dog to be checked, and the vet thought it would lift both their spirits. He still wouldn't eat on his own, but the vet said his stool was starting to thicken. She put him on a feeding tube Friday, and didn't hear anything over the weekend since they were closed for normal business hours. Received a call Monday morning stating that he did well with feedings over weekend but still would not eat on his own and she was going to take more radiographs. Got another call an hour later stating that she did not see anything but abnormal gas patterns, and was going to send them to a radiologist for their opinion. She also said that he had thrown up during examination. Then received call shortly after stating he threw up 3 more times and had a massive seizure. Shortly after the devastating call came that they did everything but were unable to save him. I was a mess and unable to talk to the vet at this point, my heart still aches. She told my bf that he had a pulmonary disease that is rare and she has seen in a few other younger puppies, but has only ever confirmed one case. She only thinks this is what it may be. I haven't slept and my mind has been racing as to how my sweet boy could be perfect one day and so deathly ill the next. His birthday was Sunday, which means he only made it one year. I have researched so many things and the only thing similar I have fond was distemper. Does this sound right? He received 1 vaccine from breeder at 6 weeks and again at 9 weeks from the breeder. He then got a vaccine from vet at 12 weeks from vet. I know I should have brought him back after that, bt he was so frightened of people that I thought it would be worse for him. Even though he did not finish his vaccinations could he still get so sick? Or have you ever heard of a pulmonary disorder like this. I also want to point out that all 4 legs had catheters in him at one time, and the one was swollen with fluid due to it blowing. He has been on blue buffalo large breed puppy since we got him last October, and I have also read that people have had similar problems, but my other dog has eaten it occasionaly and they were both being switched over to Earthborn Holistic at this time. Could a food have done this. I'm sorry if I have wasted your time I am just trying to understand why this happened to my poor boy. Thank you again.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh dear. I am so sorry to hear this.

There is a type of parvovirus that can cause a serious problem called endocarditis that can affect the heart and respiratory system. However, if Max had vaccines at 6 weeks, 9 weeks and 12 weeks then he really should have had good protection against parvo virus so it's possible that this was something else.

Distemper can cause respiratory issues but wouldn't cause the severe vomiting and diarrhea.

I think that the food is unlikely to be the culprit.

Unfortunately I really don't know what the culprit was here. However, it sounds like there was not much more that anyone could have done.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Dr. Marie




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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.