Thirteen-month-old German Shorthaired Pointer Murphy needed nine days of intensive care at Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield after falling ill while his owners were on holiday in
Shaun Stead, 48, wife Michelle, 49, and son Taylor, 17, had to cut short their trip and make a mercy dash back to the UK to be with Murphy, after their dog sitters got in touch to warn them he had developed diarrhoea and sickness.
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The family were full of praise for Shellbrooke Doggy Day Care in Doncaster, who spotted Murphy was unwell and took him to Springfield Vets in Rotherham for treatment.
As Murphy was so poorly, Springfield referred him to Linnaeus-owned Paragon, where internal medicine specialist Andrea Holmes; specialist in training Ben Safrany and veterinary nurses Alex Johnson and Courtney Brennan took over his care.
Although he was fully-vaccinated against parvovirus, Murphy was so weak he was unable to walk and needed a feeding tube for liquid medication, which gradually enabled him to feel better and go home.
Shaun said: “We got the next available flight home when our dog sitter told us about Murphy and cut the holiday short. It was a surreal situation. I’m 6ft 3ins and a big bloke but I was in bits!
“Andrea and Ben said Murphy had a very high strain of parvovirus and it was very rare to see a case so bad. He’s fully vaccinated, but there are rare cases when it can still infect dogs.
“If he hadn’t been vaccinated, there’s no way he would have survived.
“He’s received the Rolls Royce of care, right from our dog sitters to Springfield and then Paragon. We can’t thank them all enough.
“The only phrase I can think of to describe Andrea and Ben is that they’re animal angels.
“Murphy isn’t back to his old self just yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Canine parvovirus is very contagious and spreads to dogs via contact with infected faeces or environment. The virus is resistant in the environment and can persist for more than a year if not appropriately disinfected.
Typical signs of parvovirus infection include diarrhoea, which is often bloody, vomiting, being withdrawn and quiet and not eating.
Andrea said: “Murphy came to Paragon so weak he was unable to walk and he was taken via trolley from the car park directly into the isolation ward. I had already spoken to Murphy’s local vet earlier in the day to discuss his investigations and give advice.
“Murphy had been tested for parvovirus three times already and his results had returned as negative. Due to his severe bloody diarrhoea and blood tests showing his immune system had been attacked, we were both still very suspicious he had this virus.
“Murphy had intensive nursing treatment and was kept isolated from other dogs in the hospital. A PCR test for parvovirus returned a positive result and we had the diagnosis we were suspecting.
“Murphy needed a feeding tube to allow him to receive liquid medication. He gave us a few tail wags when he was starting to feel better and gradually over nine days his wonderful character returned, and he started eating. It was a pleasure to see Murphy leave the hospital and return to his dedicated and loving owners.”
Dogs are most at risk from parvovirus when they are younger than four months old and unvaccinated. All puppies should have two parvovirus vaccinations as part of their routine ‘core’ puppy vaccination and having a third vaccination around the age of 16 weeks may provide increased protection to fight the infection.
Animals usually develop signs two to five days after contact with the virus. If they have early, intensive supportive treatment, the prognosis is very good. But without treatment the condition is usually fatal.
Shaun is using the family’s ordeal to raise awareness of the condition, the importance of being vaccinated and also how important it is for owners to clear up after their dogs.
Most cases come from dog faeces, so it just shows how important it is to clear up after your dog,"” he said.
“We’re just so grateful to everyone who has cared for him and that he’s on the mend.”