New Puppy Blues - A Case of Intussusception
At the Adoption Meet and Greet Center
Finding the Right Puppy
In our search for a dog to add to our family, we were determined to find a good match for our ten year old female. We were concerned about her accepting a new dog after a bit of trouble in the past with a Chow Mix who was quite territorial. She and Dolly had more than a few scuffles.
We went to the puppy area of the SPCA, where two black Lab mix puppies were sleeping, one on top of the other. Even the outbreak of wild barking created by our intrusion didn't wake them. At seven weeks old, they both had their puppy shots and were ready to find a forever home.
From the moment I held the male pup in my arms, there was no doubt he was the one.
Most of our previous pets came to us from misguided owners who dumped their unwanted animals on the country road where we live. Over the years there have been dozens of strays who wandered up in various stages of hunger and neglect: Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Dalmatians, Chows, Australian Shepherds, and even a family of Labradors with their four pups, and many others that we couldn't keep with four other dogs. After losing three of ours to old age, we were ready to adopt a new pup.
The process seemed to take forever as I held him tightly in my arms; I ached to take him home. As the staff filled out adoption forms, it was hard to keep my mind off the adult dogs whose pleading could still be heard. Most would not be as lucky as this puppy who was going home with a family today. Undaunted by the prospect of leaving his litter mate, he placed a generous kiss on my chin.
At long last, we were handed a folder filled with care instructions, canine coupons and adoption forms, along with a small bag of Science Diet Puppy Food. Flourishing our bright, purple leash we headed out the door, eager to get home and introduce him to Cookie.
Tony Meets Cookie
Little did we know that within a few weeks, Tony would suffer from a rare but serious disorder known as Intussusception. You can imagine our concern when this always hungry, happy and active pup began to refuse food, vomit a bile-like mucus, and lie around with no interest in his surroundings. This was a dramatic change in his behavior from the curious, inquisitive, bundle of energy that we were used to seeing.
We scheduled a same-day appointment to see our veterinarian who has cared for our pets over the past fifteen years. She struggled to find anything specifically wrong. He had no fever, no sign of ingesting pesticides and no worms. Tony's symptoms might fit a number of different issues and being a Lab mix, everything seems to go in their mouth. To rule out ingestion of a foreign object, a lateral x-ray was taken. This revealed only a gas pattern and no evidence of a swallowed object like a toy, a rawhide or a squeaker. Tony was given an anti-nausea injection and we took him home.
Learning to Climb the Stairs
We left the Veterinarian's office on Monday hoping to see some improvement in Tony. Though it was nice not getting chewed on by his sharp little teeth, it was disturbing to see how lethargic and disinterested he was acting.
Tuesday night I slept downstairs, awakened hourly to find him waiting at the door to go outside. In spite of eating nothing for two days Tony continued to have diarrhea. He ran out, took care of business, then, ran back inside to his bed.
The next morning I called the Vet for some anti-diarrhea medicine.
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Big Sister and Baby Tony
By Wednesday afternoon I made up my mind to check Tony into the hospital rather than pick up more medicine. I hated leaving him overnight, but that's where he needed to be now. He looked up at me with pitiful eyes when I handed him to the vet tech. I cried all the way home.
Thursday morning as soon as the phones were being answered, I called the hospital. They said Tony was acting like a puppy and seemed back to normal. According to them he had eaten last night and this morning. Tony could go home shortly.
While we were out taking care of human ailments, I missed the first two calls from the vet who left messages on the home answering machine. By the time we left our doctor's appointment I had a new voice mail on my cell phone. I called the vet to tell them we were headed over to pick up Tony, when the doctor got on the line.
"Tony's not coming home," she said. My heart stopped for a second then I felt the impact of her next statement. "We're taking him in for emergency surgery."
Tony Recovering From Surgery
Tony was taken in for exploratory abdominal surgery that afternoon. The vet had done her research and believed Tony had intussusception. She felt that surgery would stabilize his irregular intestinal spasms. We were stunned that our four-month old puppy was having such a struggle.
The house was once again way too quiet without Tony's antics, playing and jumping and trying to stuff toys into the back of Cookie's head. We paced the floor and tried to remain positive. I called the clinic a few times after hours to check up and no one answered the phone. Soon I stopped calling, fearing the worst. It was a long night.
Tony the Lab After Surgery
Intussusception is the most common cause for bowel obstruction in children and is often seen in puppies too. Our vet explained that the intestine telescopes back in itself, causing an area of tubing to overlap. If left untreated, this can lead to cellular death of the overlapped section, the onset of infection and eventually death. Most cases have no known cause.
Given prompt attention, this disorder can be repaired. The first course of action often taken is an air or barium enema which reveals the condition and sometimes actually fixes the damage and no further treatment is needed. The barium series did not fix Tony so they began exploratory surgery on his abdomen.
Tony and Cookie - The Watchers
Sachse Veterinary Hospital
The surgery was successful in restoring the intestine to the proper position and Tony came through the operation fine. His behavior soon returned to his normal puppy playfulness.
His two week recovery after surgery included restricted outdoor activities and walks on a leash. The vet prescribed a restricted diet of boiled chicken and rice to help his intestines return to their normal rhythm. At the end of two weeks his stitches were removed and we were thrilled that he didn't mess with them or need an Elizabethan collar.
Thanks to our wonderful veterinarians who've cared for our pets over the past eighteen years, Tony is back to normal enjoying his days as a happy go lucky puppy. Their quick diagnosis and immediate action undoubtedly saved his life.
Tony at Two
Tony at Five
© 2010 Peg Cole
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