She had parvo. Apparently there had been a bout of parvo running around Fresno that was effecting an extraordinary number of dogs, both vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. The vet said that she had about a 50/50 chance if we did subcutaneous fluids every 4-6 hours and gave her medications. The pups, however, were a different story. He said we'd likely lose the whole litter, that they had already gotten it and they were too young for the shots anyway. He said we'd just have to sit back and watch as they died, or we could bring them all in to be put down. This was devastating news. We weren't sure to tell the boys as puppies started dying, or if Delilah died. We had to treat the yard, and do three separate quarantines: Delilah, Ziggy, and the pups. We had plastic totes all over the utility room, trying to separate the pups who were really acting sick from the ones who weren't. We called around to different societies and shelters for advice...was there anything that we could do? Put the pups down, they all said. There's nothing that I can do. I was defeated and angered at the same time. Surely there is SOMETHING that I could try!
I talked to a friend who is as into herbs and alternative remedies as any herbalist, and asked her advice. She steered me into a couple of directions as suggestions...she had an idea of what worked well on humans for intestinal ailments, but wasn't so sure about dogs. It gave me a little hope, though. In the meantime, the pups had been started on "puppy mush", essentially puppy food soaked in puppy formula and blended to the consistency of a thin pudding. They were eating a little, but it was hard on their weakened guts. I went to the local health food store and picked up a bottle of raw colostrum and started syringe-feeding the little buggers about every 4 hours, coming home on my lunch breaks to help my husband with the never-ending tasks of starting Delilah on her bag of fluids (he didn't like jabbing her with the needle...this is where being a nurse came in handy), giving her the medications, cleaning up the nasty parvo poo, starting a load of laundry to wash the blankets and towels that the pups were laying on, and feeding them.
A couple of days into the ordeal, I found a gentleman on the internet who had a similar experience as ours. He had given his pup turmeric. Yes, as in the spice found in curries, etc. I read about it in depth, investigated turmeric, then decided to give it a try. I went back to the health food store, picked up more colostrum, a bottle of turmeric capsules in the most pure form I could find, and went home. The ladies at the store were fabulous...one had lost her pup to parvo, and really took an interest in our situation. The capsules were large. I couldn't poke them down the pups throats. So I sterilized one of the needles from Delilah's fluids and used it to puncture the capsules. Then my husband would hold the pup, I'd squirt the turmeric (which was in an oil base) down its throat, then follow it quickly with the colostrum. My fingers were yellow for about two weeks...they looked like the fingers of a 40-year chain smoker. We gave turmeric to Ziggy just in case, even though he wasn't acting sick. We gave it to Delilah, who was so weak that she could barely lift her head. We thought we were going to lose her and the pups. She wasn't making urine for about two days...I was sure she was just shutting down. Then slowly she started turning around. She lifted her head. Then sat up for a minute. Then peed!! Her kidneys were working! The pups were starting to eat a little more mush, and the poo stopped smelling foul. There was no more blood in it. We were turning a corner!
We continued with the treatment plan...Delilah on her meds, fluids, and turmeric, Ziggy on prophylactic turmeric, and the pups on colostrum and turmeric 4-5 times/day along with the mush. After about a week, Delilah ate some boiled chicken and broth. The pups graduated to soaked kibble from mush. Everyone was alive, and about half of the litter was actually thriving. And my fingers were very, very yellow.
One of the shelters called us back to check on us after about a week and a half. We gave them the update, and they couldn't believe their ears...both mom and all eight pups had not just survived, but were doing great! They asked for the breakdown of what we did, and we told them. They were a no-kill shelter, and this was exactly the kind of thing they were looking for to try. Our vet called and asked if we lost the litter. We told him about the colostrum and turmeric, and he called it coincidence, then yelled at us and said "Don't you know you're not supposed to give dogs milk?!" We won't be going back to him. The ladies at the health food store said they'd pass it on to anyone who asked. Eventually we found homes for all but one of the pups, who we kept for ourselves. Delilah and all of the puppies made a full recovery!
It was a very, VERY long two weeks of treatment, sadness, frustration, then ultimately, triumph. We had defeated the odds by looking back to nature to heal. So if there is anyone out there who does a search for puppies and parvo, I hope you find this page and give the treatment a try. I was skeptical at first, but took the approach of "can't hurt, might help"...they were all on death's door with no options, so why not give it a try? And it worked!! Pass it on. Log it away in your memory in case it happens to your dog or a friend's pet. Here's the basic breakdown of what we did:
* Turmeric capsules, one per dose, 4-5 times per day until the stool is no longer bloody or diarrhea. Then decrease dosing to 3 times per day for at least a week. Linked is the turmeric we used.
* Raw colostrum, 10 ml, 4-5 times per day after the turmeric. Linked is the colostrum we used.