The three-month-old puppy was so sick that our Medical team worried she wouldn’t make it. Tilly had come to us through our Diekman Regional Rescue Program just a day before. At first, she had seemed like a normal, healthy puppy. But by the next day, the illness had caught up to her. She was lethargic, not eating, and having severe gastrointestinal problems.
Our Medical team immediately recognized the signs of Parvovirus, a life-threatening disease that can impact young puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Our team moved her to an isolated room to prevent the disease from spreading to any other animals we were caring for. She was given IV fluids, anti-nausea medications, and antibiotics to prevent her from developing secondary infections. While most puppies treated for Parvovirus in our care tend to recover in just a few days, Tilly’s severe symptoms persisted.
At least three times daily, our veterinary technicians suited up in their protective gowns and spent time with Tilly administering fluids, syringe feeding her to help keep up her strength, cleaning her room, and monitoring her condition.
Tilly’s blood proteins were so low and she was so weak that she could barely stand up. When she did, she walked on her wrists rather than her feet, which concerned our veterinarians. Despite the constant care she was receiving, she was so skinny that her ribs were showing through and it seemed as though she might not make it through this illness.
But finally, after 10 days of nonstop care, Tilly took a turn for the better. Once she was cleared to be moved from her isolated room, the Medical team decided she needed to go to a foster home to finish recovering, gain weight, and to be monitored for her ability to walk normally. Dr. Shearer, one of our amazing veterinarians, had an eye on Tilly from the time she arrived. She decided to take Tilly home to provide her with the TLC she needed. “Tilly reminded me of the dog I adopted when I was still a vet student,” Dr. Shearer says. “He had recovered from Parvovirus as well. We lost him last summer and Tilly reminded me so much of him.”
Under Dr. Shearer’s care, Tilly continued to improve. She was very timid at first, and still reluctant to eat, but over the course of several days she began to come out of her shell. Slowly but surely her personality opened up, she started to eat again, and most importantly, she was walking normally on all four legs.
Finally, after a month and a half of treatment, Tilly was finally recovered enough to find her forever home. But Dr. Shearer already knew – Tilly was right where she belonged. She signed the papers to make Tilly’s adoption official and Tilly is now thriving with her new family.
She’s enrolled in puppy classes, joins Dr. Shearer at work some days and delights in spending time with the staff and volunteers, and is settling in well with Dr. Shearer’s son, cat, and dog.
We treat so many puppies with Parvovirus every year, but Tilly’s case was truly unique. Dr. Shearer credits her survival – and the incredible survival rate of so many puppies afflicted with Parvovirus – to the extraordinary care provided by our veterinary technicians and other support staff and volunteers. We are so grateful for the people who put so much time and energy into providing round-the-clock care for our most vulnerable animals.