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Tollchester Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Parvo (June 2007)

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New strain of parvo?

I wanted to let everyone know there appears to be a strain of Parvo that is showing up with different symptoms than the typical Parvovirus.  Not only that, it seems to give false negative readings in the typical Parvo snap tests, making it even harder for vets to diagnose.  While you may think this is a danger to only “unvaccinated” or “limited-vaccine” dogs, my recent experience has shown that it can hit any dog!  I want to make sure everyone is aware of these symptoms so they can be prepared and not lose two beautiful puppies as I did. Here’s my story…feel free to forward this on.

A few months ago "Fugi" an 11 1/2 week old pup started getting diarrhea that looked like liquid peanut butter. Concerned about her we took her into our local vet who evaluated her (and her poop!) as "upset tummy". We all brushed it off as stomach upset and took her home.

The second day Fugi stopped eating and drinking, so we took her into the local vet again! The vet subq'd her and sent her home with the same diagnosis “upset tummy”. That night after the pups came in from their nightly exercise a second pup “Rainy” stopped eating. Concerned we called the vet and were advised to watch them overnight and bring them in at 9am to have them evaluated.

Well, overnight the two pups made a turn for the worst! At 5am I woke up because I felt something was wrong. I went to the puppy room and found our pup Fugi limp and almost lifeless! She and Rainy had diarrhea that night shortly before I woke up, it was bloody! I knew right away PARVO! 

I wrapped Fugi in a towel and took her to the closest emergency vet along with Rainy and Amore – Rainy’s sister who seemed depressed. I was able to keep Fugi breathing with massage therapy on the way to the vet. Fugi survived the journey to the vet where they snap tested her for parvo and it came back "negative". Even though the test came back negative they treated her for parvo because all the viruses get treated the same. She was put on an IV drip and medicated.  

After an hour in the vet confirmed we had Fugi stabilized. However the parvo snap tests were still coming back negative! Rainy was evaluated by the vets and put on IV shortly after we had Fugi stabilized.

At 9am the vet confirmed Rainy was okay to be transported so we disconnected her. We took her and Amore to our reproduction vet in Newton (15 min away). Fugi, though alert and looking good, stayed in Langley to be monitored in ICU. When we arrived at Newton Rainy was looking pretty depressed so they rushed her to the back and started her IV again. Amore was connected shortly after. It was a relief to know everyone was in good hands...phew! 

That night everyone did well. Things were looking good! A blood parvovirus test was run on Fugi and it came back positive! However, the snap tests (fecal) still were coming back negative!

The following afternoon we got the first dreaded call. Newton called to tell us after breakfast Rainy crashed and her fever spiked to 107 degrees, her heart couldn't take the heat and she passed away. It was the hardest phone call EVER! (I cry now thinking about it)...... 

That day was a good day for the other two. However, by night fall Fugi was making another turn for the worst. It was time to decide do we stop the IV and put her down? Or do blood transfusions over the next day? We opted for the blood. The blood worked wonders and Fugi turned around drastically after the transfusions. The vets were so confident on her recovery they were saying we could move her to Newton the next day if things kept going good! Then overnight she took a turn in her prognosis, her fever spiked and by the following morning another dreaded call came! Fugi had passed away :'-(

Amore did well over the week and was released from what she believed was jail after 5days. She came home and was isolated at home for an additional 12 days as told by the vet. Following her isolation she returned to play with her friend a fully vaccinated 8month old Manchester terrier.

The 8 month old Manchester terrier contracted parvo 5weeks after the initial outbreak! The Manchester showed signs of depression and he was admitted into isolation at Newton for 5days after a positive snap test. He recovered from the virus and has returned home. The virus hit him as hard as Rainy and Fugi, but thank doG, he and Amore had the help of vets to get them over it.  Amore and the Manchester are okay. The vet believes both made it over parvo because their symptoms were caught in time (in both cases the first sign was depression).

This form of Parvo had no unusual smelling diarrhea; it came up as depression first, loss of appetite second, peanut butter diarrhea third, refusal of water fourth and finally bloody diarrhea along with vomiting. The final stage bloody diarrhea and vomiting seemed to be the irreversible stage, both pup that showed the sign of bloody diarrhea and vomiting didn't live.


During these tragic events 7 puppies’ ages 11 weeks to 9 months with varying vaccination protocols were exposed to the virus, of the 7 puppies 3 never showed any signs.


Science has shown us that resistance to the parvovirus is partly due to immunity and partly due to maturity.  It reminds us how immunity can be built by environmental factors and/or chemicals. Therefore, even though vaccinations have helped control the spread of the disease, vaccination doesn’t guarantee immunity. Despite being vaccinated some dogs still contract the virus and may die from it.


Immunity comes with maturity because parvovirus likes to attack rapidly dividing cells and as a dog matures, there are less dividing cells. Puppies and young adults are at higher risk because in their growth, they have a large number of dividing cells.


Parvo has had many strains and has been changing since the 1980’s. There has been some discussion that there may be other strains that are becoming more common and have been yet to be identified!


There is a lot people that don’t know about parvovirus. Misinformation about the disease, how it is spread, and vaccinations is widespread. I hope that with understanding of the virus pet owners will be able to make good husbandry decisions that will help prevent and reduce the spread of the disease!


There is much that we (people, vets, breeders etc...) do not know about the virus or the best way to control the disease, but we are learning new information daily. If anyone has any questions about what happened or wants any information I would be happy to share. I think knowledge is the best tool anyone can have. Maybe one day this email may save one of your puppies’ lives!

Fugi and Rainy will be missed dearly and will be remembered by all those whose lives they have touched in their short time here.

Simone Sortwell

""Be open to your dreams people. Embrace the distant shore because our mortal journey is over all too soon" David Assael 

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