Dog owner warns about virus ‘she’d never heard of’ that almost killed her puppy


Dog owner Nilly-Mae Sims was one of many with a pet pooch whose pup was struck down by Parvovirus following an outbreak at a Leicester animal centre earlier this month

Wilma the Cavachon was struck down by the highly contagious Parvovirus
Wilma the Cavachon was struck down by the highly contagious Parvovirus

A puppy owner was “sick with worry” when her pet pooch was rushed to intensive care after catching a highly contagious canine disease.

Dog lover Nilly-Mae Sims found herself one of many owners whose new pup contracted Parvovirus after an outbreak at the Woodside Anima Centre in Leicester earlier this month.

Cavachon pooch, Wilma, was hit hard by the virus – which attacks the intestines – and was “touch and go” at several points during her treatment.

She narrowly escaped death after spending several days in intensive care.

Speaking to Leicestershire Live, Nilly-Mae said she was worried sick and feared the worst many times during her treatment.

Now to save other owners from the panic, she wants to share key signs to help others identify the deadly illness.

Little Cavachon pup, Wilma, was “touch and go” at several points while in intensive care for Parvovirus

“It became my main focus as I was just sick with worry,” she said.

“I couldn’t concentrate on my work and Wilma was all I could think about. Some days she was good and getting better and then she deteriorated badly the next. It was a real rollercoaster.”

Nilly-Mae, from Markfield, wasn’t even aware of Parvovirus’ existence until Wilma became unwell just a few days after she’d brought her home.

Displaying signs of exhaustion and not wanting to play, the little Cavachon also hadn’t eaten or drank for about 12 hours.

Concerned, Nilly-Mae was unsure what was wrong, but didn’t feel Wilma was in serious danger.

“We thought she could be a little upset as she was a new dog in new surroundings just getting a little overwhelmed with everything,” she explained.

This wasn’t the case though with alarm bells then sounding when Nilly-Mae saw a post on Facebook.

“I’m on a group with other Cavachon pup mums and I saw one mention her puppy had come down with Parvovirus.”

“Her puppy had the same symptoms as Wilma and then I began to worry. Without that post, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Wilma showed signs of being exhausted, and a lack of energy to play

Symptoms of Parvovirus can differ greatly from dog to dog and, while Wilma eventually tested positive for the virus, not all dogs will get it despite its contagious nature.

Nilly-Mae’s other dog, a golden doodle called Winnie, luckily escaped unscathed despite a brief day of illness.

For Wilma, once she was at the vets, she was placed under round-the-clock intensive care, such was the ferocity of the virus.

“I’ve seen things no dog lover should ever see,” said Nilly-Mae. “Wilma was hooked up to so many tubes and equipment that it was awful to see her like that.”

Over the next few days, Nilly-Mae was told to prepare for the worst on several occasions, with vets fearing Wilma wouldn’t make it.

“Until you’re in that situation it’s hard to explain, but to get good news about her health in the morning followed by a warning she’s going to go just hours later really hit us,” she explained.

“These calls would come at 1am and I didn’t know what to think. It was such a rollercoaster of emotions.”

Thankfully, after 10 days of treatment, Wilma recovered and returned home where she remains on medication.

Now, Nilly-Mae is keen to raise awareness of the dangers of Parvovirus to other dog owners and ensure many more survive it just like Wilma did.

The 29-year-old is also determined to give back to Woodside Animal Centre where Wilma came from.

“This was just an awful thing that no-one at Woodside could stop. They have been brilliant throughout this, calling and checking in on me and Wilma every day.

“They’ve gone above and beyond in helping.”

The team at Woodside have even gone as far as paying the vets bills for all affected families throughout their Parvovirus outbreak – something Nilly-Mae called a “lifeline”.

“It’s not just Wilma they’ve saved, it’s me as well. With the bills rising, we might not have had a home to bring her back to, that’s how serious it was,” she revealed.

“I cannot thank them enough.”

It’s why Nilly-Mae is now aiming to raise as much money as possible for the shelter to help them continue to deliver their services and care for rescued animals.

“This isn’t just money for now, this is money for the future so that anyone and any animal gets the support and help they need. After the help they’ve shown, it’s the very least I can do,” she said.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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