Finn, is an 8 week old mixed breed puppy who presented for severe vomiting and diarrhea. Testing revealed that he had parvovirus, a severe viral infection in dogs. Finn was hospitalized for intensive care including I.V. fluids, antibiotics, medication to help with the nausea and more medication to protect his gastrointestinal system. Finn continued to vomit and had large amounts of bloody diarrhea. His feces looked like raspberry jam. Eventually, he required a blood tranfusion to counteract the loss. A day after the transfusion, his entire body swelled up. Look at the picture below and then answer the following questions: Is this a reaction to the blood transfusion or something else? How is this treated? Is it fatal?
Diagnosis: Edema Caused by Hypoproteinemia
(Low levels of protein in the blood stream)
Parvovirus destroys rapidly dividing cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes and gastrointestinal tract. The virus damaged the lining of Finn’s intestines causing blood to leak out. Beside white and red blood cells, blood carries an important protein called albumin. Finn’s albumin dropped so low that water diffused out of his blood vessels and accumulated under his skin. It felt like jelly. He was given a synthetic protein called Hetastarch to counteract this condition. Left untreated, this condition is often fatal. Most blood transfusion reactions occur during or within a few hours of treatment, not twenty-four hours later. Another difference is the location of the swelling. Finn’s entire body was swollen. His swollen paws looked like something out of a cartoon. In allergic reactions, the swelling is normally confined to the face. The bandage around Finn’s neck is holding his I.V. catheter in place. It is loose and not the cause of the swelling.
Here is Finn’s picture a week later. He had just eaten and wanted to take a nap. He could barely keep his eyes open. He was one of the lucky ones that survived. Please vaccinate all puppies to prevent this deadly disease.