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Enter “Typhoid Lil”

Canine medical drama stalks me, including having a parvo puppy. I’ve spent many thousands of dollars on veterinary care for every dog I’ve ever had. As a pup, Lilly was no different.

Parvo puppy in the house!

Just 24 hours after she arrived at home, doctors admitted Lilly into intensive care. She’d become feverish, lethargic, and all around sick to her stomach. I knew it was parvovirus, a much-dreaded, highly contagious killer of puppies that swept onto the scene in the mid-1970s.

I knew because we’d been through it with our big boy Ginko when he was a pup. Parvo dogs have a certain look to them. And, not to be gross, but they also smell. It’s something you never forget.

I called ahead to warn the 24-hour emergency hospital we were coming. After a parvo quick-test, kind of like a strep test, except you swab the rear, the veterinarian and nurse returned, gowned for serious germ warfare, and took Lilly straight to the isolation ward.

I was right.

parvo puppy graphic -- three arrows stuck in a bullseye target

They gave our parvo puppy medications to control vomiting and such. They gave her IV fluids and hyper-immune plasma transfusions. They gave her antibiotics to control any secondary bacterial infections that can crop up when a pup’s immune system is under such attack (intestines, bone marrow, lymph nodes).

Parvo puppy outcomes

There is no cure for parvovirus – only supportive care. There is, of course, a vaccination for it. Lilly had been vaccinated at the shelter, but she was likely exposed before that. The virus can live in contaminated environments for a year. Even when symptoms subside, puppies shed the virus for a month.

In 2006, I interviewed a veterinary immunologist for an article on a new distemper vaccine. He explained that each parvo puppy either does or does not survive parvo based on their own strength.

I credited doctors. He credited Lilly.

(He also told me that the parvo scare in the 1970s is what led to what many today consider “over-vaccination.” Essentially, this virus was wiping out puppies in droves. Once a vaccine was found, veterinarians developed aggressive booster protocols … just to be sure.)

And, then more medical worries

After the parvo, however, she caught kennel cough, which she shared with Ginko. Then, she got pneumonia – requiring chest X-rays, tons of antibiotics, etc. It took weeks of treatment, including – I kid you not – prescription cough syrup, to wipe out.

Lest we relax too much, we soon noticed that Ginko’s muzzle, his snout, didn’t look quite right. It seemed lumpy and puffy. Allergies? We wondered. Irritation? We thought.

Our veterinarian was stumped too, until I joked, “Maybe it’s Toxic Lilly Lips … you know, she does kiss and nibble on him.”

Turns out, Lilly accidentally bit Ginko’s face. The injury had healed from the outside, sealing the infection inside. My handsome boy had become overstuffed in the nose area. His snout ultimately swelled to three times its normal size. (Sorry, I don’t have photos of that.)

More antibiotics … plus, we had to scrub his nose twice a day with peroxide to make sure the infection healed from the inside out. And, it did.

I’m happy to say since then Lilly has been the picture of health (knock on wood), but in fall of 2004 my dreams of a new laptop faded as the money went instead to veterinary care … just as it had when Ginko blew out both knees and needed massive knee surgery.

***

Alas, my early optimism turned out to be wrong. Read more about the rare medical drama that ultimately killed our amazing Lilly. 

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Champion of My Heart - March 27, 2008

The Daddy Factor

Once we got past her various medical issues, I took Lilly through her initial obedience class in spring 2005. Since then, of course, we’ve been through a bunch of other classes
for agility, rally and all-around pet dog training. With our previous dogs, Tom and I usually took that first (and only) round of training classes together. That hasn’t been the case with Lilly.
That spring Tom worked a lot. He spent several nights per week and many weekends in training. So, I went it alone, and that became the norm. Fine … really. Except now …

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