Dog vaccine

Puppy found floating in box on Texas River rescued, available for adoption

A puppy found floating down a Texas river in a box is now at Austin Pets Alive! and looking for his forever home.

APA! says that in early October they received a call from another shelter in Texas saying a man had come with a puppy he had found floating in a box down the river and needed help that the refuge could not provide.

The two-month-old Black Lab retriever mix had tested positive for parvovirus, a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. The man drove two hours to get the pup to APA!’s Puppy Parvo Intensive Care Unit, which treats about 1,000 puppies a year, according to the rescue.

A puppy found floating down a Texas river in a box is now at Austin Pets Alive! and looking for his forever home. (Austin Live Animals)

When the pup arrived, he was “collapsed”, says medical clinic director Lauren Heymann – lethargic and pale, and in need of immediate treatment. The pup, later nicknamed Kayak, was hospitalized and clinic staff and volunteers treated him critically and gave him antibiotics, intravenous fluids, medication for vomiting and nausea and food by syringe.

Kayak was so sick that he didn’t show any signs of his personality at first. But over the next five days, with careful care and numerous treatments, Kayak got better, ate more, and hit a total of 18 pounds, APA! said.

He became his true “happy, restless self,” Heymann says. “Now he wants attention. He’s wagging his tail. He’s a sweet pup, the typical happy pup.”

The kayak is available for adoption at the APA’s Town Lake Adoption Center.

After undergoing parvovirus treatment, Kayak is now ready for adoption at Austin Pets Alive! (Austin Pets Alive!)

What is the Puppy Parvo Intensive Care Unit?

The Town Lake Adoption Center is home to the Puppy Parvo Intensive Care Unit, which helps the APA! saving lives from all over Texas. Over 90% of APA parvo patients! leave the ICU healthy and ready for new homes.

APA! says the Puppy Parvo ICU is the first of its kind in the country and also welcomes students to share their knowledge and provide other shelters and rescues across the country with the information they need to help save dogs with parvo.

What is parvovirus?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canine parvovirus is highly contagious and can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies under four months old are most at risk. The virus affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and is transmitted by direct dog-to-dog contact and by contact with contaminated feces, environments or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs.

The virus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time, the AVMA explains. Even traces of feces from an infected dog can contain the virus and infect other dogs. The virus is easily transmitted from place to place on dogs’ hair or feet or via contaminated cages, shoes or other objects.

Some signs of parvovirus include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fever or low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Vomiting
  • Severe, often bloody diarrhea

Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can lead to septic shock, the AVMA explains.

Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours of the onset of clinical signs, says the AVMA. Pet owners who see any of these signs are urged to contact their veterinarian immediately.

APA! says the best way to prevent parvovirus is to vaccinate dogs and puppies. Puppies can receive a 5 in 1 vaccine called DHLPP (which protects the puppy against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza) or a 4 in 1 DAPP (which protects against distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus) from their local veterinarian. The first vaccine is ideally given between 6 and 8 weeks of age, with boosters given at 3 week intervals until the puppy is at least 4 months old.

APA! advises that until the series of vaccinations is complete, puppies should stay away from any potentially infected public grounds, where other dogs have walked and where feces may be present, such as dog parks , hiking and biking trails and sidewalks.