Tuesday, August 4, 2009

First Signs of Puppy Strangles

Today is day 6 that our little puppy Argus is off his cortisone medication. His progress has been remarkable.

Argus was born on the 17th April 2009. It is difficult to say if he was the first or the last pup born, as he was one of 15 pups. What we do know, is that he was the second biggest of the litter. His mom, "Lucy", is a Dalmatian cross and his dad "Apollo” is a golden retriever. As Argus grew bigger, he started looking more like a black Labrador puppy. Most of his siblings looked more like cross golden retrievers. They were long haired and fluffy. Some of them were multi coloured ... brown, black and tanned.

When Argus and his siblings were 6 weeks old it was time to have them inoculated and to start finding them new homes. Argus and another female pup were the only 2 smooth haired pups in the litter. They were pitching black with a patch of white on their chests. As mentioned above, he looked like a Labrador. This was one of the reasons why we decided to keep him.
A week after Argus had his first inoculation we noticed that his eyes were blood red. We did not know what it was and we began to worry. We thought it had something to do with the new puppy blanket that we had just bought for him. It was also the first time that Argus had felt grass beneath his feet and it was just after that, that his eyes became red. We thought that he might have been allergic to the grass.

A few days later, his eyes worsened. His eyelids became swollen, and filled with pus. We took him to the vet. The vet said that Argus had sties in eyes and he prescribed antibiotics
a week later, we noticed little pimples forming around Argus' nose and mouth. We took him back to the vet and the vet gave us a new diagnoses staphylococcus, a type of skin disease. He did state that he had never seen staph in a puppy before.

We took Argus home and he got worse. He was struggling to move around and seemed more tired and depressed. The supposed staph infection had spread. We took him back to the vet who said that Argus had outgrown his antibiotics. He gave us stronger antibiotics and we left.
Another couple of days went past and Argus got worse. His face was now huge. You could not see past 1 cm inside his ears because they were so swollen. He kept shaking his head from left to right obviously because his ears hurt. We couldn't handle seeing him in anymore pain and took him back to the vet. The vet pinned Argus down and started cleaning his face with a cloth. He screamed so loud that the other patients waiting in outside the consultation room were shocked when we walked out. Listening to him scream as the vet cleaned his face was even more unbearable. The vet cleaned his eyes and they started to bleed. He took cotton wool, put it on the end of scissors, stuck it in Argus's ears and twisted the scissors to try and clean the ears. His ears bled, his face bled. Argus was distraught and so were we. The vet decided to use a drug that is usually given to AIDS patients to protect their T-cells. The vet gave him an anti-inflammatory injection and antibiotics telling us that his immune was weak. Argus had 5 injections that day and the vet told us, we needed to come in everyday for the next 7 days to have the same injections. We left the vet and went home. The swelling came down and we thought that Argus was making a full recovery. Every day we brought him in to the vet. After the first experience of trying to clean Argus's body, the vet decided that he would not do it again.

After the 7 days were up, we were told to continue the Anti-biotic course. Within 2 days, Argus was back to where we he was the week before. We took him back to the vet who seemed very irritated with us. "Why did you bring him back!" he demanded to know from us. The vet looked at Argus's stomach and saw he had what the vet thought was a hernia. Argus had more injections and we were sent home.

We did research that night, searching on Wikipedia, Google and any other place where we could describe these symptoms. Finally we came across something known as "Puppy Strangles". The symptoms were all there. The next day, we went back to the vet with the blog article printed out. The vet did not even glance at the article and went about the usual treatment regime. My son Jesse was the one who took him to the vet and after the vet did not listen, he felt frustrated because he thought he knew what was wrong with Argus. He asked that his dad go with him the next day. They printed out a veterinary journal article on puppy strangles, which the vet in the article also misdiagnosed as staph.

Before Jesse went back to the vet, he thought it may be better to go see another vet. He walked into the other vet with his very sore puppy. Everyone sitting there stared. It was not a nice site to see. Argus had swelled up to the size of a balloon. The other vet said that the only way of finding out what was wrong with this dog, was to send a sample of the dogs skin to the laboratories. Jesse asked the other vet if he had heard of puppy strangles. The vet said no. When Jesse referred to it as Juvenile cellulitis, the vet said he understood exactly what it was. Juvenile cellulitis in humans and in horses is a bacterial infection. Puppy strangles is an auto-immune disease. This is where all the confusion comes from. Jesse left the second vet feeling even more frustrated.

When my husband and Jesse walked into the vet, he was not happy. He accused them of not appreciating what he had done and told my son that when he gets his qualification, then he can come here and talk. My son was adamant that the vet had to read the article. The vet said he would glance at the article once Jesse and my husband left. When Jesse got home, he was so upset. He picked up the phone and phoned his girlfriend who was also very close to Argus. As she answered the phone, Jesse's cell phone rang. It was the vet. He told Jesse he had read the article and that Jesse should start the puppy on 20mg of prednisone for the next 10 days and then begin tapering the puppy off. Jesse was so happy. He did not resent the vet for not listening to him all those times before, but was just pleased that he agreed that this was the diagnoses. Within 2 days, Argus had improved by 50%. Within the next 2 days, another 50%. He was getting better by the second. The abscess on his stomach popped and the other abscesses eventually disappeared. His eyes became shiny again and he became a happy little pup.