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Matthew Sisk: Potentially diagnosing parvo in pup
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In our practice, we typically call the owner two days after an appointment to check up on the patient.

This is particularly crucial for Lemmy, because the puppy that came in as he was leaving did indeed have parvo. Even though she was 6 months old, the owners hadn’t gotten the puppy vaccinated, because they felt like it was a waste of money. They had paid $2,000 for the pup and felt like it was enough.

But my worry was not warranted. As it turns out, Lemmy is doing well.

This makes sense, but doesn’t mean he is out of the woods yet. Following exposure to the parvo virus, it can take almost two weeks before the infection shows up.

I don’t know if Lemmy had real exposure during his visit. And if he was exposed, I don’t know if he has enough protection from his vaccinations thus far to avoid getting sick. So, I warned the owners to be vigilant and call me immediately if Lemmy shows signs of illness.

Parvo is a classical diarrhea virus, but presents with inappetance, lethargy or vomiting.

The owners shouldn’t lose sleep over the risk, but they should be wary.

My schedule is busy, and I can’t obsess over Lemmy on a daily basis.

So he’s out of my thoughts for the next week or so. Then we get a call.

Lemmy is acting funny. He’s scratching his face and has thrown up twice since the owners took him to the park.

This could be almost anything, but given our pre-existing worry, I want to see him immediately. By the time he arrives, his face is swollen, his eyes can barely open and he’s vomited again.

The owners are distraught, having googled parvo on the way to the clinic.

But as luck would have it, there is a bee stinger in his lip. I’m relieved to diagnose an allergic reaction to an insect sting. The swelling is because of (in part) histamine release. The same chemical can cause nausea and vomiting.

To be safe, I test for parvo. It is negative.

With treatment, Lemmy recovers nicely. His final puppy vaccinations are in one week.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at