What is parvo (a.k.a. – canine parvovirus infection or CPV)? We weren’t familiar with it…we were just excited to get a new puppy.  But we soon learned that it’s a horrible canine infection which affects the dog’s ability to absorb nutrients. An affected dog will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of рrоtеіn and fluid аbѕоrрtіоn. It can be deadly and it’s really important that the dog gets treatment immediately.  It’s very contagious to other dogs!

We want to share Rusti’s story to help others who may be in a similar situation.

Almost a year ago, we met a lady at a Starbucks to see a mini-goldendoodle that was for sale on Craigslist.  Of COURSE, we fell in love with this puppy and wanted to take her home right away.  She was 3 lbs and a little ball of rust-colored fluff.  It was about an hour ride home and she was so curious!  She wanted to crawl up the seat, over the seat, onto the steering wheel, and on the floor.  She just kept exploring around the car.  Good thing there were three of us trying to keep her safe!

It had been over a decade since we had had a new puppy, so we were not quite sure what to expect.  She seemed nervous but happy, her tail was wagging like crazy. We were instantly in love!

We thought she may be getting car sick because on the way home, she was gagging and just a bit of yellowish mucus/flem-y stuff came out.  It wasn’t much, but looking back, it was probably the first sign… of several more to come.

After a lot of debate, we decided to name her Rusti, because of her color. When we got home, we just enjoyed having a brand-new puppy in the house. It was fun, it was exciting and for us, it was nerve-wracking too.   We wanted to do everything right… we wanted to be the perfect pet parents!  She was a pottying machine…. And we assumed all was well.

The following day, we set up an area for Rusti to hang out while I was working.  She was playful at first… and then she seemed to keep trying to hide.  She was thirsty, but she wouldn’t eat much.  She’d have a small kernel or two, but she just didn’t seem interested in food.  I thought maybe she didn’t like her food or that she was just nervous in a new environment.  She seemed to just want to crawl in a corner and sleep.  I wasn’t sure if puppies slept a lot?  Maybe she was just tired from all the excitement of being in a new place?

After a few naps hidden as far in a corner as she could get, she woke up, wagging her tail and she tried to explore.  When she pottied, it was yellowish and runny and it seemed to smell a bit different. She started gagging again… a little bit of the same very runny yellowish fluid.  It seemed like her little tummy was just spasming and trying to make her throw up…. And she seemed warm….

I didn’t know this little fluff ball very well and I didn’t know what was normal.  In just the space of a few hours on day 2, I felt like she needed to be checked by a vet.  I called and explained that I had a new puppy and she seemed to be having troubles with her stomach.  They asked me to come in immediately.

Rusti and I were quickly ushered into an examination room.  The doctor came in with a mask and extra protection gear and shoe covers.  She explained that Rusti’s symptoms were consistent with Parvo and that it could be very dangerous and contagious to other dogs.  I knew of the word “parvo” and I knew it affected dogs, but other than that, I really didn’t know anything.

As she went through the examination, I watched carefully.  They took her temperature, they pressed on her belly and she seemed uncomfortable.  She pottied and they took a sample of that.  Every time a new person came into the room, they put on fresh scrubs and covers on their bodies and their feet. And then… the verdict.  Rusti had parvo.

We’ll continue Rusti’s story (A Pet Parent's Nightmare, Part 2) as she battled through her harrowing life and death experience on the next post.

Here are some warning signs that may tell you if your dog has parvo (a.k.a. – canine parvovirus infection or CPV):

  • Sеvеrе, blооdу diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Anоrеxіа
  • Fеvеr
  • Vоmіtіng
  • Sеvеrе weight lоѕѕ
  • Thеwеttіѕѕuе of thе mouth and еуеѕmау become nоtісеаblу red
  • Thе heart mау beat too rapidly

Parvo CAN be treated. According to, parvo has a survival rate of 85%, meaning that 15% of dogs that are exposed to the virus and catch it will die.  “The survival rate, however, is greatly influenced by the treatment options.”

It’s up to us!  As their pet parents, we should be aware of the virus, the symptoms, and the possible treatments.