Our rescue puppy’s battle with parvo
The past week has been one of the most tumultuous, to say the least. First, meet Feliks Kliment, a 2 to 3 months old Siberian Husky(?). In Russian, Feliks means lucky (or happy), and Kliment means gentle and merciful. I met Feliks about two weeks back at the shelter when he had just come in as a stray.
He reminded me of an Indian street puppy, and I fell in love with him. Anyway, long story short, we decided to adopt him but had to wait a week because he came in as a stray (so that his family could find him if they were looking for him). So finally, the day came when we were supposed to pick him up, and just as we were about to leave for the shelter, I got a call saying Feliks had tested positive for Parvo and that we would not be allowed to adopt him. Parvo is a highly contagious (to dogs) virus which can produce a life-threatening illness, especially when contracted by puppies. Its symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, etc. So I asked her what that meant; will he be put down? Can he be cured? What if we pay for his treatment? She said the vet recommended that he be euthanized, and they were getting ready to do so in 15 mins! I practically pleaded with her, and she was kind enough to agree to let us adopt him as long as we agreed to pay for all his medical bills. She asked me to call our vet and find out how much it would cost before I agreed. So Hari and I called a few vets, and they all said he would have to be hospitalized for a couple of weeks, it would cost a couple of thousand dollars (!), and even after all that, there was no guarantee he would survive…
We had to decide fast, and we decided we couldn’t just let him die without trying to help him. The shelter was about an hour and a half away, and we tried to get there as fast as we could, wondering if he would still be there (alive) when we got there. Thankfully he was, and we wrapped him up in a towel and headed to the hospital.
While we were headed there, we took a quick peek at his medical history. It turns out he got all his shots (parvo, rabies, kennel cough) as soon as he got to the shelter, and he was fine for the first three days he was there. After that, he started having diarrhea, but when they tested him for parvo, it was negative. Since his diarrhea persisted, they did the test again on the day we were supposed to adopt him, but it was still negative. So even though the test said he didn’t have parvo, they treated it as parvo because the symptoms were consistent with parvo. When we got him to the vet, he too said the prognosis was not good. He said, ” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think he is going to make it.”
Feliks was severely dehydrated and emaciated. He did not run any tests but just said since the symptoms were consistent with parvo, we could proceed to treat him for that. He recommended hospitalization (which is just prohibitively expensive) or we could take him home and bring him to the hospital every day to get all his shots and fluids. We picked the latter not only because it was significantly cheaper but also because it would give Feliks a chance to see what he would be fighting for. And in case he didn’t make it, then at least he would’ve spent a few hours or even days surrounded by people who loved and cared for him instead of in a cold cage.
As soon as we got home, I squirted some elderberry syrup into his mouth to boost his immune system (not sure if it helped, but I figured it couldn’t hurt) and continued to squirt coconut water into his mouth every hour until about 2 am.
He had not had any diarrhea from when we picked him up from the shelter to that time, so we thought we’d let him sleep in peace instead of waking him up every hour. But sadly, when we woke up at 6 am, he had diarrhea. We wondered if he was stressed out from us leaving him alone for that long. Even though he had diarrhea, Feliks was a lot more chipper that morning.
He was thrilled to see us, was wagging his tail more vigorously, and started drinking coconut water and water from a bowl. I took him outside and sat with him on a swing for a while so that he could feel the breeze and the warm sun.
It did seem as though he was doing better, but we have also read that dogs with parvo can seem like they are doing better but can suddenly drop dead. We took him for his day two parvo treatment that afternoon.
That night we made his room toasty warm, put one of V’s old pajama tops on him, covered him up with a blanket, and Hari slept in the same room to make sure he didn’t feel abandoned and stressed.
He slept so well that he didn’t move from that spot the entire night! No diarrhea for over 24 hrs, and he was super hungry when he woke up! So we gave him some cookies made with oatmeal, barley, and dates and idlis, steamed rice, and lentil cakes, which he practically inhaled.
He spent the rest of the morning playing with his toys and prancing about the house exploring!
That afternoon before we headed out to the hospital, he had his first relatively normal stool. Yeah!!! When we got to the vet, he said we didn’t need to treat him for parvo anymore, but he suddenly started coughing while he was on the examination table. Apparently, he now has kennel cough. Poor guy can’t catch a break! Long story short, he got an antibiotic shot and is eating plenty of slippery elms to soothe his throat. Other than that, he is alert, has already learned “sit,” “no,” and “drop it” at remarkable speed and has a very healthy appetite.
Now we are working on slowly integrating him into our diverse family, which includes four rabbits, three cats, three humans, one dog, and one tortoise.
He is currently getting along well with our dog Scruffy and looks up to him for guidance. He is fine with the rabbits except maybe a little scared of Henry, our Flemish Giant because he keeps charging him with a growl (never knew a rabbit could make that kind of sound)! He loves the humans to pieces and seems fine with the tortoise, our resident squirrel, and birds. He is not so sure about the cats yet, though, so the cats have a safe zone in the house to which he has no access to. But that doesn’t stop the cats from coming to visit him! Even though Feliks is currently emaciated, his paws look large, and legs look longer than usual for his age, so we chose ‘Kliment’ for his last name in the hopes that if he does grow into a giant, he would be a gentle and merciful one.