When Your New Puppy Becomes Ill
Finding the Right Puppy
When we searched for a dog to add to the family, we were determined to find a good match for our ten-year old dog, Cookie. She and another of our family dogs had issues with being territorial. We knew that finding the right temperament in a puppy would be critical.
At the SPCA of Texas, we found a litter of two black Lab mix puppies around two months old. The male, nine weeks old was under ten pounds. Despite the loud barking of the other dogs awaiting adoption, he was sleeping soundly on top of his sister. The sign said he was neutered, up to date on all his puppy shots and ready for a forever home.
From the moment I picked him up there was no doubt he was the one for us.
Most of our pets came to us as strays who wandered up to our doorstep hungry and abandoned. There were Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Dalmatians, Chows, Australian Shepherds, and even a family of Labradors with their new pups, among others that we weren't able to keep. After losing three of our four dogs to old age, we were ready to add a new puppy to our family.
The adoption process seemed to take forever as the staff took our information and filled out forms. It was hard to ignore 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.
Tony Meets Cookie
We had no idea that within a few weeks of his adoption, Tony would come down with symptoms from a serious disorder known as Intussusception. When this always-hungry, happy and active pup began to refuse food, vomit a bile-like mucus, and show no interest in his surroundings we knew to take action.
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.
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 awakened to find him waiting at the door to go outside. In spite of eating nothing for two days his diarrhea continued. The next morning I asked the veterinarian for some anti-diarrhea medicine.
By Wednesday afternoon, we checked Tony into the hospital rather than pick up more medicine. It was tough to leave him overnight, but that's where he needed to be. He looked up with pitiful eyes as the vet technician took him to the back. I cried all the way home.
While You Were Out
Thursday morning as soon as the clinic opened, I phoned to check on Tony who seemed to be acting like a puppy again and back to normal. They said he had eaten his dinner the night before and breakfast this morning. Tony could go home.
While we were out, I missed two messages from the vet on our home answering machine. By the time we left our doctor's appointment, there was a new voice mail on my cell phone. I called to tell them we were headed over to pick up Tony when the doctor came on the line.
"Tony's not coming home," she said. My heart stopped for a second as she continued. "We're taking him in for emergency 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.
Cookie Became Protective of Her New Brother
The Road to Recovery
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
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
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.
Tony at Five
Following the loss of his companion, Tony's loneliness and grief took us back to the SPCA where we found him a new companion, a six-month old puppy we named Indiana Jones. After one tense day of adjusting to each other, they became fast friends. Now, they're inseparable, enjoying each day for whatever it brings.
Tony and His New Friend
Have you ever adopted a dog or cat from the SPCA?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2010 Peg Cole