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Puppy Illness That Could Be Fatal

Updated on February 2, 2017
PegCole17 profile image

Peg and her husband live on ten acres in the country northeast of Dallas with their two dogs, stray cats and the occasional o'possum.

Adopting a Puppy

Puppies sleep a lot
Puppies sleep a lot

Intussusception refers to an inflammation of the intestines, a portion of the intestine that has slipped out of its normal place (prolapse), and a portion of the intestine that has folded (invagination)."

— Pet MD

Finding the Right Puppy

When we looked for a dog to add to the family, we were determined to find a good match for our ten year old Cookie. After having some issues in the past with our late Chow Mix who was territorial, we knew that finding the right temperament in a puppy would be critical.

At the SPCA, we found two black Lab mix puppies that were around two months old. The larger male was sleeping on top of his sibling, a female. The loud barking that our visit incited didn't seem to rouse them. That told us this guy was a sound sleeper.

Having been neutered and administered his puppy shots, he was ready for a forever home. From the moment I held him in my arms, there was no doubt he was the one for us.

Dolly, a Chow Mix and Cookie sometimes got into fights over territory. After Dolly passed away in 2009, Cookie needed a companion.
Dolly, a Chow Mix and Cookie sometimes got into fights over territory. After Dolly passed away in 2009, Cookie needed a companion.

Most of our other pets came to us in the rural area where we live. Over the years there have been dozens of strays who wandered to our doorstep abandoned, hungry and neglected. There was a variety of Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Dalmatians, Chows, Australian Shepherds, and even a family of Labradors with their four pups, among others that we weren't able to keep. After losing three of our four dogs to old age, we were ready for another one.

Tony didn't want to go for a walk. He just wanted to go back to sleep. And he slept all the way home.
Tony didn't want to go for a walk. He just wanted to go back to sleep. And he slept all the way home.

The adoption process seemed to take forever as I held him tightly in my arms. As the staff took our information and filled out forms, it was hard to keep my mind off the adult dogs whose pleading barks could still be heard. Many older dogs wouldn't be as lucky as this guy. Undaunted by the prospect of leaving his litter mate, he planted a kiss on my chin.

Finally, we were given a folder filled with care instructions, canine coupons and a small bag of puppy food. Flourishing our brightly colored, purple leash we headed out, eager to get home and let him meet Cookie.

Ten Year Old Cookie

Cookie's reaction when she met Tony was priceless.
Cookie's reaction when she met Tony was priceless.

Little did we know that within a few weeks, Tony would suffer from a serious disorder known as Intussusception. Imagine our concern when this always hungry, happy and active pup began to refuse food, vomit bile-like mucus, and show 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.

Tony Meets Cookie

Tony getting acquainted with his new big sister the last surviving member of our four dogs.
Tony getting acquainted with his new big sister the last surviving member of our four dogs.

We scheduled a same-day appointment to see our veterinarian who has cared for our pets for 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.

The vet told us that Labs tend to chew on anything and everything. To rule out ingestion of a foreign object she took a lateral x-ray. 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.

The Symptoms

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 and ran back inside to his bed.

The next morning I called the Vet for some anti-diarrhea medicine.

I thought it might have to do with something he ate.
I thought it might have to do with something he ate.

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.

Big Sister and Baby Tony

Little ditto
Little ditto

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.

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, there was a new voice mail on my cell phone. I called the vet's office 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 After Surgery

Under the watchful eye of big sister Cookie.
Under the watchful eye of big sister Cookie.

Exploratory Surgery

Tony was taken in for exploratory abdominal surgery that afternoon. The vet believed Tony had intussusception and felt 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. No one answered the phone. Soon I stopped calling, fearing the worst. It was a long night.

The Road to Recovery

Safe in Grandma's arms
Safe in Grandma's arms

Intussusception

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 into 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

Learning the ropes about guarding the back yard from his older sister
Learning the ropes about guarding the back yard from his older sister

Sachse Veterinary Hospital

A marker4730 Ranch Road Sachse TX -
4730 Ranch Rd, Sachse, TX 75048, USA
get directions

Results

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 bland 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, Tony is back to normal enjoying his days as a happy go lucky puppy. Their quick diagnosis and immediate action undoubtedly saved his life.

Best Friends

As Cookie got older she developed Cushing's disease which made her thirsty all the time. Here they're sharing a drink together.
As Cookie got older she developed Cushing's disease which made her thirsty all the time. Here they're sharing a drink together.
After five years, the roles were reversed and Tony became the watcher and guardian over his sister.
After five years, the roles were reversed and Tony became the watcher and guardian over his sister.

Tony at Five

Tony is five years old and weighs a hundred and two pounds.
Tony is five years old and weighs a hundred and two pounds.

A new day dawns following the loss of his companion, Cookie. His loneliness and grief drove us back to the SPCA where we found his new little brother, a six month old puppy we named Indiana Jones. They spent a brief one day adjustment period before they became fast friends. Now, they're inseparable, enjoying each day for whatever it brings.

Truly, this is the best outlook and a lesson we can learn from our pets.

Tony and His New Friend

Tony Curtis and Indiana Jones, BFFs
Tony Curtis and Indiana Jones, BFFs

Have you ever adopted a dog or cat from the SPCA?

See results

© 2010 Peg Cole

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    • profile image

      pastella13 6 years ago

      Hi PegCole17

      I've been wondering how your puppy was since you left a comment about what he was having surgery for. I looked up to see what it was and I was worried for you. I'm so glad he's come through it and is nearly back to normal. He really looks happy with your other dog and I'm really pleased for you.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Pastella13

      You are so kind and caring. Thank you so much. From the first day after surgery Tony was acting like a crazed puppy. They are so resilient it's amazing. Even with a 6 inch incision full of stiches, he acted as if nothing was wrong. We were told to treat him like an invalid for 2 weeks, taking him out only on the leash, etc. Tony proved that to be impossible, wrestling with Cookie and jumping up on the furniture just like before. We could take a lesson from their buoyancy.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 6 years ago

      Poor little guy! Glad to hear he's on the mend. He's so lucky to have you looking out for him. He definitely looks like a keeper!

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Mulberry1 - I wanted to take all of the dogs from the SPCA back home with me. Their faces are still clearly on my mind. But it was a nice clean place with a lot of caring folks coming in for adoptions.

      We're so happy with our Tony and he adores our 10 year old Cookie. I think she likes him too!

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • hurdon2000 profile image

      hurdon2000 6 years ago from Arkansas

      I am so happy the little fellow is doing well.His so cute!Im so happy he has a home,someone to love, and who loves him.

      I wish their was more people like you,I know the world would be a better place.God Bless you, and God Bless Tony ,and Cookie.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you so much hurdon2000. You are so sweet! I'm glad to find you here. We're so grateful for little Tony who has brought constant laughter back into our home. What a wonderful gift he is. May God bless you too.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Your precious little Tony is adorable. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read and "re-lived" your story. My sweet "Clancey" - (shih ztu), is now 9 yrs old and I rescued him from a puppy mill at 8 weeks of age. He almost didn't make it because of the neglect, but he is a fighter and so am I. I love my Clancey more than my own life and continue to do whatever I can to keep him well and happy. He has seizures, stomach problems, skin problems (staff infections) and takes so many meds which really concerns me. Just wanted you to know that I understand how you feel about your baby. What a lucky little fellow he is to have you for his mommie. May our Father-in Heaven keep looking after him and help him live to a ripe old happy age.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Oh vocalcoach, How wonderful to have a rescued pup to look after. Your sweet Clancey is fortunate to have someone who cares for him as you do. I hope he continues in better health. One of mine lived till 16!

      We've had so many precious dogs who've shown up on our doorstep over the years. When we first moved out to the country people were dumping off unwanted dogs it seems like every weekend. I've had visits from Great Danes, Chow Mixed, 1 Malamute, 2 Dalmations, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and so many others. The flow of strays has lessened now with community growth. Tony was our first true shelter dog in over 20 years with all the ones that used to come to us out here.

      Thanks so much for your lovely comments. It's great to find another dog lover in our Hub family.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      Congrats to Tony, you, and your vet's office!! My dog is absolutely part of our family! Unconditional love is best defined with a pet!

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks Truckstop Sally. So nice to meet you here on this site. Yep - pets are great sources for unconditional love. We're so pleased and lucky to have Tony in our family. Our vet is amazing too.

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Thank you for sharing. Competent vets make the difference. Competent owners, also.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      We love our veterinarians, Silver Poet. They've saved the lives of many of our beloved pets over the years. Thanks for stopping in.

    • Dale Nelson profile image

      Dale Nelson 6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Pegcole17,

      A sad but great story. Being a dog owner of two SPCA dogs, we can relate. I love the fotos.

      Our one dog Deefer (D for Dog), jack russell has a skin condition that was discovered to be atopy. We only buy food from the vet now and he has never been happier.

      Rated Up

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Dale, It's always nice to meet people who adopt from the SPCA. Thanks for stopping in and for the kind words. Dogs who have been uprooted, then find a good home seem to be exceptionally grateful for their new families. We've been blessed with many sweet wonderful mixed breed dogs that were adopted.

      Your comment inspired me to look up atopy that affects your Jack Russell. Changing their food can certainly help reduce allergies and itching. I continue to cook the chicken and rice mixture for them as Tony still has a sensitive stomach.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 6 years ago from Southern California

      Thank Goodness...... I went from happiness, to tears of sadness, back to tears of relief. As a dog owner... I felt your every emotion

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 6 years ago from Bangalore,India

      PegCole17, I have 2 strays at home too-Brownie and Jerry! We love them and I can understand your emotions as you describe. I am glad for Tony and Cookie that they have your love. Truly adorable in the pictures! Loved them!

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Mrs. J.B., You are sweet to stop in and read Tony's story. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      Purple Perl - Your Brownie and Jerry (love the names!) are two lucky pups. You sound like a loving and kind person. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Heartwarming story, great pictures, and all around wonderful hub. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope Tony continues to be a happy go lucky dog. Rescuing an animal is gratifying and rewarding for both the owner and the dog.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi toknow, Thank you so much for dropping by. We are very fortunate to have found a loving, sweet dog who has brought so much laughter and joy into our home.

      In the past, many strays found their way out here to our house. It was really difficult not to keep every one of them. But the ones who stayed were well loved and quite spoiled.

    • Gloshei profile image

      Gloria 5 years ago from France

      Hi Peg,

      I have just read your article on your puppy, where would these animals bee without people like you.

      We did the same I may post it.

      Lovely words.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you Gloshei. You know personally how much they appreciate it forever when they're rescued. Thank goodness there are people like you as well. Would love to hear the details of your little Jinny.

      Peg

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is such a wonderful, heart warming hub! I was afraid of the ending for a little while! I'm so glad Tony is doing fine. I know what you mean about those pitiful doggie faces at the shelters. I can barely stand it, I want to take them all home with me. I wrote a hub about a black lab that came to us for a short time, we named him Jake. You may have already read it, but this sure reminded me of him. I really enjoyed all the pictures and the video! I still have a smile on my face. Up and awesome, Peg! :)

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks SG for dropping by to read Tony's tale. Tomorrow will be his third birthday and we are grateful every day to have him with us. He is healthy and the best friend I've ever had.

      I read your Jake story some time back but I'll be over to give it a second read. Those labs and lab mix pups are so incredible.

      Thanks so much for the visit and the awesome comments.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      So glad everything worked out well for Tony and your family. Believe it or not, my late husband suffered this same condition as a small child. He also had surgery, and he never got over the experience completely, always fearing it might return.

      Yes, sadly I am allergic to all animals and while I become a baritone within seconds of exposure, and the itchy throat and itchy runny eyes can be a problem, the biggest issue is asthma. I had my first known allergy attack when I was just 7, and that was not to an animal, but to fresh peas we were shucking. I grew up on a farm.

      Allergies tend to get worse with every exposure to the allergens. I develop new allergies all the time. Frequent exposure to something, and especially getting that something into my system through a scratch or a cut is the problem. I was not allergic to cats until my allergy doctor tested me for cat and he did that with a skin test similar to the one used for Tuberculosis where syrum is inject under the skin. After I reacted to the test he asked me if I was allergic to cats, and I told him I had been able to rub my face on my cat with no reaction. He said, "Well, you're allergic to cats now." Thanks to the under the skin test he performed.

      One of these days I'll live in a bubble. I all but never go into anyone else's home. My daughter has cats and just the hair on her clothes is enough to cause a reaction, so I rarely see her.

      The doc told me that the cure would likely be worse than the problem and that I might die from the treatment. Took shots for 5 years to remedy my allergies to plants, dust, mold, etc., and every time my arm would swell up, turn red, and get hot. Always had to stay at doc's office for 1-2 hours after each weekly, and later monthly shot, to make sure I didn't have a lethal reaction.

      Love animals and they love me, but I can't touch them and must avoid them as best possible. Have written many times about my allergies in the comments sections of various hubs and have remarked on how much I miss the ability to feed the wild animals now that I live in an apartment complex.

      So glad things worked out well with Tony. A heartwarming story.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Oh you poor dear, Au fait. What a terrible shame about your allergies and the fact that it prevents you from having a pet. It must be severely limiting not to be able to visit places where animals have been. And growing up on a farm, you must have had a difficult time with all the pollen and cultivation of plants.

      I'm sure your daughter understands, but that makes the issue even more difficult with her owning cats. So sorry to hear your late husband had intussusception. That can be very dangerous.

      My Mom has allergies to just about everything, and rather than turning into a baritone, she coughs rather non-stop. Her sister had a cat when she came to live here with Mom after their older sis passed away. The cat had to be confined to Lou's room which made for a different kind of alienation.

      Thank you for your very early heartwarming comment and your important message about allergies. What a shame that is that you're allergic to so many things. Pets provide such unconditional love and companionship.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Peg,

      Thank you for guiding me to this heartwarming 'tail' of Tony, who indeed is the big bro of my Andy.

      While I am sorry for Tony's episode of intussusception, thanks for sharing in such detail that we may all be alert for signs and symptoms / take quick action.

      I love seeing the relationship between Cookie and Tony develop through your wonderful pictures, as well as the loving bond you and "J" established with Tony from the start. The video is adorable.

      Voted UP and all across plus 'adorable' - sharing! Hoping you all have a doggone great weekend. Love, Maria and Andy

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

      Peg, I am so glad that Tony has you to love and take care of him, happy that the surgery went well and everything is back to normal.

      I am glad for you that Tony and Cookie are pals. Tony is growing so fast.

      Our last pet was a toy Fox Terrier, Misha was so beautiful and smart.

      Thumbs up UABI and shared

      Have a blessed weekend

      Shyron

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 2 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Scary story but important information. Precious dog and I am so glad Tony is alright. Good thing you took him to the Vet right away.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Aw, Tony is such a handsome dog. His baby pictures are adorable. I am so happy he has enjoyed a happy life now after the surgery. I can imagine how disturbed you were to see your baby not doing well and I am glad they figured out what it was, and I have never heard of such. I know labs do love to chew. We have a chocolate lab now, Max. He is extra loving.

      Your Tony reminds me of my friend, Maria's new baby, Andy.

      Voted up and more tweeting and pinning

      Blessings

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Maria, Thanks so much for dropping in to check out little Tony. Seeing the pics of Andy reminded me so much of the joys of raising a puppy. They are so trusting and loving (and bitey) at that stage. I'm glad that you've found someone to share the abundant love you have to give and look forward to many stories of his antics. Love to you and Andy. Thanks for sharing, too.

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Shyron, Nice to see you here. Thanks for stopping in to read about little Tony's puppy ailment. We're thankful that he turned out okay, too. Dogs can really teach us so much about resilience. Fox Terriers are truly smart and great companions. I would love to read a hub about your Misha. What a cute name!

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Faith, Thank you for dropping by to see Tony's baby pics and to read about his close call. Your Max is probably as faithful and loving as our Lab mix, Tony. They are such great companions. Yes, when I saw Maria's little Andy, I was instantly reminded of when mine was just a pup. Many blessings in return and thanks so much for pinning and tweeting.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 8 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Always good to re-read and be aware of what to look for with these beauties of ours, dear Peg.

      I am so grateful for your quick interventions - Tony is a beautiful boy, then and now...and Indy is a darling as well.

      Love you and your fur babies, Maria, Andy and Zoey

    • PegCole17 profile image
      Author

      Peg Cole 8 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Maria, Thanks for stopping back in on this one. It is amazing that our pups are so much alike. Labs really are gentle giants with sweet personalities. Tony will turn seven in a few days and he's taught Indy so much about family life it's amazing.

      Love to you and all of your family.

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