#FeelGoodFriday Coco

“Feel Good Fridays”

On Fridays, the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia will be featuring one of our patient’s stories and their road to recovery.  We would especially like to profile the skills, dedication, and devotion of our nursing and technical team. Our staff, alongside the veterinarians, work tirelessly, around the clock, on weekends and holidays to nurse these animals back to health. We are ecstatic to be able to share these stories with the public.


Coco was rushed into VRC-Nova early Monday morning after he took a turn for the worse Sunday night. When Coco arrived his body temperature and blood sugar were dangerously low and he was on the verge of being comatose.

Just 3 days earlier, he was purchased from a breeder in North Carolina. His owner had driven nearly 8 hours to pick him up. When she arrived in the Petsmart parking lot to pick up the puppy, she felt something was wrong. Coco was very tiny. He appeared much younger and unhealthier than she expected. Against her better judgment, she took him home. Coco seemed fine at first and was settling in well. By Sunday, he became lethargic and started to vomit and have diarrhea.

The staff and emergency veterinarians immediately began life-saving measures to stabilize Coco. He was placed on heat support, an intravenous catheter was placed and fluids with dextrose were started. Given Coco’s age and incomplete vaccine status, we were concerned that Canine Parvovirus was likely the culprit. Sadly, Coco tested positive for Parvovirus.

Dr. Hemberg and Coco’s mom had a very in-depth discussion about Parvovirus and what she could anticipate in the coming days. There is no “cure” for parvovirus. Treatment consists of aggressive supportive care and nursing. Tiny, young puppies like “Coco” have immature immune systems and are at greater risk of becoming septic from bacterial spread from their intestinal tract into their bloodstream. Intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medications are the mainstays of therapy. Some puppies will require plasma or blood transfusions and temporary feeding tubes to provide nutrition

After weighing all of their options, Coco’s owners elected to admit him into the hospital not knowing if he would survive. In total, Coco was hospitalized in the VRC ICU for 4 days. The nursing staff and emergency veterinarians provided 24-hour a day intensive care for Coco. The first 24 hours were dicey but each day, Coco kept getting stronger. We were ecstatic to be able to discharge Coco to his family and share his story with you.

We fall in love with every patient but Coco was special to us. He gave us baby kisses and we knew he was grateful for the care he received. He would fall asleep in our arms, just craving companionship while his body fought off the Parvovirus. We are so thrilled that he made a full recovery; a big reward for our efforts!” -Min Begley

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