An elderly dog receives an extreme, life-saving makeover!
On March 1, 2016, a dying puppy was brought to the San Jose Animal Care Center. The female puppy – weighing only 0.5 pounds! – was found in a park two days earlier, and the person who found her had tried to care for the puppy by feeding her milk. However, the puppy’s condition deteriorated, which led the individual to bring the dying puppy to the shelter.
When the puppy arrived at the shelter’s veterinary clinic, she was cold to the touch, her gums were pale to gray in color, and she was barely responsive. The puppy was at risk of dying at any moment. The veterinary team was told that the shelter would urgently look for a rescue to take the puppy, but that it could take hours to find one. The veterinary team wasn’t confident that the puppy would survive 30 minutes, much less hours.
The puppy was hypothermic (low body temperature), hypoglycemic (low blood sugar levels) and dehydrated. Unfortunately, puppies and kittens are not able to self-regulate their body temperature and their blood sugar levels very well. Normally, this period of time coincides with the time they are being cared for by their mothers and have regular access to their mother’s warm body to keep them warm as well as their mother’s milk for frequent feedings. Without the warmth and frequent feedings, puppies and kittens will die.
The veterinary team immediately started caring for the puppy. She was given heat support, and the team prepared to place a catheter. Given how tiny the puppy was, the chances of being able to place an intravenous catheter was low, so we opted for an intraosseous catheter – something our team had never done before. Intraosseous catheters are placed into a bone rather than into a vein, and they can be used to administer fluids and life-saving medications, similar to catheters that are placed in veins.
We did not have the medical supplies specifically for intraosseous catheters, so we used a spinal needle as a catheter. Spinal needles are typically used to administer epidurals, but since they are long and hollow needles, they would suffice in this emergency. The area over the puppy’s left hip was shaved, a local anesthetic was injected into the area, and the skin was scrubbed as if prepping for surgery. The needle was placed into the femur, and it was determined to be in the correct position.
Next, the puppy received a bolus of fluids with life-saving sugars that would help combat the hypoglycemia she had developed. She was then maintained on a constant drip of fluids that contained sugar through her catheter.
The puppy was also syringe-fed. At first, she was barely swallowing or recognizing that food was in her mouth. After her body temperature increased back to normal levels, and after her fluids and sugars began having an effect, she started to more actively swallow and also became more responsive.
Check out this heartwarming video of the little puppy being syringe fed and then falling asleep:
After a few big meals, the puppy took a nice, relaxing nap.
After hours of care from the San Jose Animal Care Center’s veterinary team, the puppy was picked up by a veterinary nurse who is fostering her for Fred’s Friends. She has been named Lily and is continuing to do very well!
In this particular case, the person who found the puppy may have had good intentions to help her. However, the puppy simply needed more care than the person knew to provide, and consequently, the puppy’s condition deteriorated over time.
Sometimes good intentions can be more harmful than you would expect. Many people who find kittens or puppies assume that they are orphaned instead of waiting to see whether their mother comes back to them. The babies will do best in their mother’s care, so removing them from their environment before you are sure their mother is not coming back could hinder their chances of surviving. If you are convinced that mother is not returning to her babies and you are not well-versed in caring for orphaned kittens or puppies, please take them to your local veterinarian immediately for guidance.
For more information on caring for orphaned kittens, please visit the following links:
Lily’s doing fabulously! Healthy and happy! 🙂
Lily’s foster mom decided to adopt Lily!