Care in Emergencies
Almost everyone has a “place” where they keep their legal documents, will, and other important information in case they are unexpectedly taken ill or in an accident. Please take a few minutes and put my name, address, and number, with brief instructions to take the puppy or adult dog to me if something were to happen to you, in that pile. If you have specific wishes after that point, like the fact that the dog should be taken care of by a particular friend or family member, put it on the instruction sheet as well. Many times dogs left behind by a tragedy are euthanized when the breeder cannot be found and no one wants to take the dog in. So please make sure that your family knows that the dog should come to me.
Things that look serious but probably aren’t
Diarrhea is the first sign that something is not quite right. A change in water, or in food, a little bug, getting into the cat food—all of these change the consistency of the stool. Your puppy will probably have diarrhea when she comes home with you, because she’s just been wormed and because of the change in water and environment. The important rule is to watch the puppy. If she is perky and healthy otherwise, is eating and drinking well, it’s probably nothing to worry about. You can help firm the stool by feeding canned pumpkin and by giving Fastrack gel, or by feeding yogurt daily.
Vomiting of something just eaten
I wouldn’t expect your puppy to do this, because by the time they come to you they will have weeks of experience eating nice big bones, but occasionally a raw-fed dog will wolf its food too fast and bring it right back up again. It’s obvious when this happens, because the food basically looks just like it did before it was eaten. Let the dog clean it up herself—she’ll chew better this time!
Sometimes Cardis make a pretty scary-sounding repeated snort sound, which sounds exactly like the name, sneezing backwards. It can be distracting to the dog, who sticks her neck out and snorts again and again. Owners tend to think the dog is choking or having a heart attack, but it’s not serious at all. Getting the dog’s attention usually works—a short walk, pinching the nostrils shut for a few seconds, etc. Think of them like really dramatic hiccups.
Worms in poop
Trust me, I get as “ewwww”-ed out about this as anyone. But just about every species of worm is easily combated. If you see worms in the poop, DO immediately make a vet appointment, because it indicates a heavy load. But don’t panic. Roundworms look like angel hair pasta, while tapeworms look like moving grains of rice or like tiny flatworms and actually move around for a few minutes after they are shed.
Things that are serious
Especially if the dog seems sick, this can be a sign that something is wrong. Persistent means for more than three or four days OR any diarrhea that is combined with low appetite or weight loss or refusal to drink well.
Tan/yellow diarrhea, sometimes with blood in it
This is classic coccidiosis, a disease that occurs when the puppy becomes stressed and the normal coccidia population in the gut goes crazy. Also keep an eye out for diarrhea that is particularly mucusy or tarry black. Call the vet immediately, and keep a sample no more than 24 hours old of the diarrhea for the vet to check.
Diarrhea, frequent, with blood and a very foul smell
While we’ve made every effort to make sure your puppy is protected from parvo, no vaccine is 100%. If you suspect parvo, get to the vet IMMEDIATELY and request a SNAP test. If you treat with Tamiflu AND fluids AND supportive care within the first 24 hours, the survival rate is quite good. After that point things start to look grim. It’s a good idea to make sure your vet knows about the Tamiflu plus supportive care protocol (the link brings you to an abstract; download the PDF) and is prepared to start it immediately upon a positive result.