Adopted shelter puppy not gaining weight, lethargic, loss of appetite, appears dehydrated
Hello, We adopted an approximately 9 week old German Shep mix female puppy on August 27, from the Downey Shelter. She was a stray. They administered 1st series of shots on Aug 21st. When we adopted her she had an upper resp. infection and they gave us some antibiotics to administer 2 x a day 100mg of amoxicillin. She finished the med this am.
I was feeding her 3x a day puppy dry food and she appeared to be urinating normally, along with her stools. She looks scrawny and doesn't seem to be gaining weight like a normal puppy would but ate at normal intervals until yesterday. Yesterday, at 6:00am she did not eat first thing in the am - I also noticed she wasn't her normal self and jumping up and down for me to let her out of the crate to go outside and go to the bathroom. She did drink water. My husband said she went for the cat dry food at 11:30am so he let her eat the food so she could have something in her system (but it was only a couple of bites) since she was not eating the puppy dry food. She also appeared lethargic and not as a normal playful puppy would act. She did do a stool in the mid morning which appeared normal; however at 3:45pm she had diarrhea.
I rushed her over to an animal hospital in Cerritos and they had us waiting 1.5 hours and 4 people ahead of us with an emgergecy surgery in process. Seeing that we wouldn't be seen anytime soon, I rushed her to another animal hospital. Her temperature was normal and no blood in rectum area. She pretty much laid down during the examination and was not sitting up or anything, pretty listless. The doctor administered ampicillin injection, dexamethasone, cerenia injection, fluid administration subcuataneous; and ampicillin to take home an administer. Although my puppy was perking up after the shots, she still seems pretty weak and lethargic. We also bought wet food to entice her to eat and mixed in with the dry food and she went for it. She is drinking a lot of water and did do a semi normal stool this morning - pretty solid and not runny like yesterday.
We did not have tests run on her yet - the doctor felts that she might get a false positive for Parvo if she recently had her 1st series of puppy shots (which was administered from the shetler on Aug 21). She looks very skinny and is only 5.3 lbs. She does not have blood in her stool and is not vomiting. I'm going to the store to purchase Pedialyte to help her replenish her electrolytes. The vet says she doesn't look healthy and suspects she may have Parvo; however, would need to do a blood test to confirm. He also said we would need to act right away if tests are done and she does have Parvo - treatment would cost approx. $1500 and no guarantee that she would survive.
Do these symptoms seem like Parvo or what might my poor girl have? We will follow up with the vet as necessary in a day but I just want a second opinion. I'm not really confident in this vet.
I'm afraid I'm not a vet myself and I can only advise that you take a professional opinion over a personal one such as mine - especially when that professional is able to make a hands-on evaluation of your pup. However, there's so much going on here that I can imagine how confused and worried you are, and I'll do my best to give 'my 2 cents worth' and hope that it helps somewhat.
It sounds as though your little girl has had a very rough start in life, and she's one of the lucky ones to have found a loving, permanent home with people who are willing and able to take care of her properly.
Inadequate care during the early weeks can obviously have a bad effect on a puppys' health and growth/development, and it seems as though that is what has happened with your puppy. She's underweight for her age due to poor nutrition, and her body has probably been severely stressed by all that she's been through.
It's of course absolutely necessary for her to have her puppy shots administered, and to take the medication she's been prescribed for various conditions, but all of these combined with the move to a new home (even though it's a very positive move) are adding more stress to her already overloaded system.
The fact that your pups' stool is better today than yesterday, and that she's drinking well and keeping it down, means that it doesn't sound to me as though she has Canine Parvovirus - although it can present differently in different pups and only a fecal test will give an accurate diagnosis. Generally puppies with Parvo go downhill extremely fast and the diarrhea doesn't improve, and they vomit up everything (including water) right away. In a pup who is already poorly and whose immune system is under attack, I would expect the downhill spiral to be dramatic. Fortunately, at least for now, that doesn't seem to be happening with your pup which is good news.
The vet is right that a fecal test is necessary to diagnose Parvo, and that immediate and aggressive treatment is called for if it's positive. It's also true that most pups diagnosed with Parvo, will die if left untreated and even getting the right treatment quickly is no guarantee of survival. However, your pup is already on (and has been on) quite a few medications including antibiotics which would help to stave off secondary infections which often occur with Parvo (if she should have it), and she's also had some IV fluids and is drinking, which means that the severe dehydration that normally accompanies Parvo isn't happening at the moment. All good.
There are other conditions which are very common in puppies under stress or with health problems, and one of these is Coccidiosis which can also cause diarrhea and lethargy. This can be diagnosed with a stool sample as it's a parasitic condition and your vet would be able to tell if your pup had it. It's also treated with antibiotics, but I don't believe your little girl has had any of these particular ones.
If I were in your position I'd most definitely follow up with your own vet (or a vet you trust) tomorrow and have the Parvo test done, maybe test for coccidia as well. If they come back negative, then I think it's just a case of giving this little girl time to get over the problems she's had. As long as she's basically healthy, then with a good nutritious diet, lots of rest and love, then with time you should see a big improvement in her overall condition. She may always be a bit smaller than other dogs of a similar breed and age, but that won't matter as long as she's healthy and happy.
Of course if she tests positive for Parvo, or Coccidiosis, you'll need to follow your vets' advice in terms of treatment... and with Parvo it can be pretty extensive requiring hospitalization, IV fluids and anti-biotics etc. However, it sounds as though your little girl is a fighter and you are doing absolutely everything in your power to get her the help she needs. Given these facts I really think she's got a good chance of growing up into a happy, healthy dog and I wish you both all the luck in the world.