My rescue puppy has distemper
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  1. #21
    Junior Member c_ras's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    I would like to share my story with you if you don't mind. I know its fairly lengthy but I encourage you to read it.

    First off, I would like to say that I'm also from Panama City, Florida. Back in July 2008, my wife and I just so happened to be in PetsMart one day when the Bay County Animal Shelter had a lot of their animals there for adoption. Being an animal lover and especially a dog lover, we ended up adopting a 3 month old German Shepherd/Great Pyrenees puppy. After the whole waiting period and all that stuff, we finally had a puppy and the puppy had a brand new home. What could be better?

    I would say about 1 week after we got him, we noticed some unusual symptoms. Doing a little bit of research, we figured it was a small stint of kennel cough. We also knew that one of his littermates ended up contracting parvo and was put to sleep at the shelter. Another littermate showed a few of the same symptoms and kennel cough was what he was diagnosed with. So, as anyone would do, we took him in to the vet. The vet ended up giving us some prescriptions to fight the symptoms of the kennel cough (caky/runny nose, fever, etc.). All seemed to be going well and he seemed to have shed all the symptoms and was on his way to being a normal puppy.

    It was a short time after that, that we ended up switching vets (due to driving distance). Since the switch, we have been taking him to Banfield inside PetsMart (highly reccommended). Anyways, he got his first round of shots, which included distemper. We had a followup appointment to have him nuetered and it was only when he was on the table under anesthesia that we found out something different was wrong. His lower jaw was trembling and so we opted to not have the nuetering done. We talked to the vet, and it looked like he had distemper. Going back to all the symptoms that he had awhile back, it made perfect sense. What we thought was kennel cough was actually the beginning stages of distemper since it can be very difficult to distinguish the two early on due to both having the same symptoms. What probably happened was the distemper virus was dormant inside of him and had subsided and when he had the distemper vaccine, it caused it to become active again. This was surely no one's fault since he seemed very normal with nothing wrong after getting over what we thought was kennel cough.

    Of course we did our research and were hit hard when we found out the survival rate for puppies with distemper. We knew it was an upward battle with an almost vertical incline. My wife and I made a commitment that we would do whatever we could to help him fight. Our vet at Banfield (Dr. H) has never seen a puppy survive distemper and she has been over generous to go beyond her normal duties to consult specialists around the nation to collect information and experimental drugs/procedures and has been extremely caring to help.

    I am very happy to say that today our puppy is a very happy and healthy 65 pound 8 month old and has beat the odds. He does have permanent nuerological damage, which causes small head spasms and his lower jaw to tremble at times and his adult canines have not come in and probably never will. It doesn't seem to bother him since he eats normally and also manages to find and chew on our shoes like there is no tomorrow. If I never said anything about his physical signs, you would think he is a normal puppy. He'll probably be on medicine the rest of his life, but that is fine by us. He is currently taking 100 mg Gabapentin and a 400IU Vitamin E tablet twice a day and a B Complex tablet once a day. There has been some small debate on whether the Gabapentin is actually working on him, but the way we see it is that he isn't getting worse. All of that is a good sign. We'll probably run a titer on him in the next few months to put our minds at ease to see if he has fully shed the virus or not. At 8 months, he is very smart. He was housebroken within the first week or two of when we got him. He knows the commands of sit, stay, lay down, up, kennel up (for when we leave to go to work), and shake. He loves to run around, go for walks and car rides, tease our cats, "vacuum" everything on the ground, and do everything else a normal puppy loves to do.

    I know my story may have been a little long but I want to inform you or anyone else out there that there is hope when your puppy is diagnosed with distemper. Trust me, we did more than our share of praying and it did take a lot of effort, but we love our puppy. He never gave up and so we never gave up. I am really sorry to hear about your loss and I hope you'll never have to go through the situation again. It is really hard and can take a lot out of you. I encourage anybody that has a puppy with distemper to not give up and do everything they can to the fullest because odds are just that -- odds. They aren't definite and CAN be beaten.

    I will leave you with one final thing and that is the name of my puppy, which has a lot of symbolism and you can easily see why.
    His name is Chance!!

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  3. #22
    Senior Member nikelodeon79's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    The above story is a great story, but I think it has the potential to make the OP feel bad, second guess the decision to have the pup put down.

    I just wanted to say to the OP that I feel you did the right thing. Just because the last poster's pup survived doesn't mean that yours would have. It sounds like your pup was just too far gone!

  4. #23
    Junior Member c_ras's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    It was not intended to make the OP feel bad and I apologize if it came out like that. It is intended as encouragement. I agree that every circumstance is different and I have no idea what conditions the puppy was in other than what the OP had posted and the actual severity of the puppy's condition. We were lucky to catch our puppy's distemper early on and began treatment at the first sign of things. There are times when the best and only thing to do is have the puppy put down. It is a very sad day when you have to make that decision. What I am saying is until that day comes, do not give up and I feel the OP did not give up. I hope this clarifies things a bit and touches up any misleading info. Again, I apologize.

  5. #24
    Senior Member Angie's Bella's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Quote Originally Posted by c_ras View Post
    I would like to share my story with you if you don't mind. I know its fairly lengthy but I encourage you to read it.

    First off, I would like to say that I'm also from Panama City, Florida. Back in July 2008, my wife and I just so happened to be in PetsMart one day when the Bay County Animal Shelter had a lot of their animals there for adoption. Being an animal lover and especially a dog lover, we ended up adopting a 3 month old German Shepherd/Great Pyrenees puppy. After the whole waiting period and all that stuff, we finally had a puppy and the puppy had a brand new home. What could be better?

    I would say about 1 week after we got him, we noticed some unusual symptoms. Doing a little bit of research, we figured it was a small stint of kennel cough. We also knew that one of his littermates ended up contracting parvo and was put to sleep at the shelter. Another littermate showed a few of the same symptoms and kennel cough was what he was diagnosed with. So, as anyone would do, we took him in to the vet. The vet ended up giving us some prescriptions to fight the symptoms of the kennel cough (caky/runny nose, fever, etc.). All seemed to be going well and he seemed to have shed all the symptoms and was on his way to being a normal puppy.

    It was a short time after that, that we ended up switching vets (due to driving distance). Since the switch, we have been taking him to Banfield inside PetsMart (highly reccommended). Anyways, he got his first round of shots, which included distemper. We had a followup appointment to have him nuetered and it was only when he was on the table under anesthesia that we found out something different was wrong. His lower jaw was trembling and so we opted to not have the nuetering done. We talked to the vet, and it looked like he had distemper. Going back to all the symptoms that he had awhile back, it made perfect sense. What we thought was kennel cough was actually the beginning stages of distemper since it can be very difficult to distinguish the two early on due to both having the same symptoms. What probably happened was the distemper virus was dormant inside of him and had subsided and when he had the distemper vaccine, it caused it to become active again. This was surely no one's fault since he seemed very normal with nothing wrong after getting over what we thought was kennel cough.

    Of course we did our research and were hit hard when we found out the survival rate for puppies with distemper. We knew it was an upward battle with an almost vertical incline. My wife and I made a commitment that we would do whatever we could to help him fight. Our vet at Banfield (Dr. H) has never seen a puppy survive distemper and she has been over generous to go beyond her normal duties to consult specialists around the nation to collect information and experimental drugs/procedures and has been extremely caring to help.

    I am very happy to say that today our puppy is a very happy and healthy 65 pound 8 month old and has beat the odds. He does have permanent nuerological damage, which causes small head spasms and his lower jaw to tremble at times and his adult canines have not come in and probably never will. It doesn't seem to bother him since he eats normally and also manages to find and chew on our shoes like there is no tomorrow. If I never said anything about his physical signs, you would think he is a normal puppy. He'll probably be on medicine the rest of his life, but that is fine by us. He is currently taking 100 mg Gabapentin and a 400IU Vitamin E tablet twice a day and a B Complex tablet once a day. There has been some small debate on whether the Gabapentin is actually working on him, but the way we see it is that he isn't getting worse. All of that is a good sign. We'll probably run a titer on him in the next few months to put our minds at ease to see if he has fully shed the virus or not. At 8 months, he is very smart. He was housebroken within the first week or two of when we got him. He knows the commands of sit, stay, lay down, up, kennel up (for when we leave to go to work), and shake. He loves to run around, go for walks and car rides, tease our cats, "vacuum" everything on the ground, and do everything else a normal puppy loves to do.

    I know my story may have been a little long but I want to inform you or anyone else out there that there is hope when your puppy is diagnosed with distemper. Trust me, we did more than our share of praying and it did take a lot of effort, but we love our puppy. He never gave up and so we never gave up. I am really sorry to hear about your loss and I hope you'll never have to go through the situation again. It is really hard and can take a lot out of you. I encourage anybody that has a puppy with distemper to not give up and do everything they can to the fullest because odds are just that -- odds. They aren't definite and CAN be beaten.

    I will leave you with one final thing and that is the name of my puppy, which has a lot of symbolism and you can easily see why.
    His name is Chance!!

    Thank you for sharing your story, what you have done and sacraficed for your dog is wonderful! Your dog is very lucky to have you on his side and very lucky that his sickness was caught before it progressed too far. But please, don't look down on me because of the decision that I to make for Lucy.

    Different from your dog, this puppy was VERY sick. She was on antibiotics for the two weeks that I had her and was to the point to where she could hardly get up and move. The decision that I made was a very difficult decision and was not a decision that came easy for me. I made te decision to have Lucy put to sleep based on her quality of life. She weighed less than 5lbs and was very, very weak. Besides the fact that her little lungs were completely eaten up with infection, she was also having a lot of other issues as well. It was more humane for her to be put to sleep than for me to try to keep her alive for my own personal issues. If you think for one minute that I allowed hr to be put to sleep because I didn't want to give her a "chance", you are very sadly mistaken!
    Lord help me to be the person my dogs think I am."

  6. #25
    Junior Member c_ras's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie's Bella View Post
    Thank you for sharing your story, what you have done and sacraficed for your dog is wonderful! Your dog is very lucky to have you on his side and very lucky that his sickness was caught before it progressed too far. But please, don't look down on me because of the decision that I to make for Lucy.

    Different from your dog, this puppy was VERY sick. She was on antibiotics for the two weeks that I had her and was to the point to where she could hardly get up and move. The decision that I made was a very difficult decision and was not a decision that came easy for me. I made te decision to have Lucy put to sleep based on her quality of life. She weighed less than 5lbs and was very, very weak. Besides the fact that her little lungs were completely eaten up with infection, she was also having a lot of other issues as well. It was more humane for her to be put to sleep than for me to try to keep her alive for my own personal issues. If you think for one minute that I allowed hr to be put to sleep because I didn't want to give her a "chance", you are very sadly mistaken!
    I know the decision that you made was a very hard one. And from what you are saying, it was definitely best that she was put down. Being a dog owner and lover my entire life, I am not going to stand to see any dog that I have suffer so badly and I would have done the same thing with the severity that it was. You did the right thing! What I would like to get out to people is that as soon as a puppy is diagnosed with distemper don't make the first choice to have him/her be put down. I know you did not do that and you fought and did give her a fighting chance. It is sad that the outcome was different than in my story. What I am saying is I respect all that you did and I wish everyone was more like you.

    I am not sure why a lot of what I am trying to say is being pulled out of context. It was never my intention to question any judgment or actions on your part.

    Out of curiousity, what vet did you take her to?

  7. #26
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Sheesh, I didn't realize how many people here were from Panama City. I am, too. =) Sadly, I live in Denver, now. -_-

    And I'm very sorry you had to make the decision to put her down, but I, too, would have done it. Poor thing...

    Sounds to me like that shelter needs a new vet. >_>

  8. #27
    Super Moderator cshellenberger's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    You did the RIGHT thing, every situation is different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie's Bella View Post
    Thank you for sharing your story, what you have done and sacraficed for your dog is wonderful! Your dog is very lucky to have you on his side and very lucky that his sickness was caught before it progressed too far. But please, don't look down on me because of the decision that I to make for Lucy.

    Different from your dog, this puppy was VERY sick. She was on antibiotics for the two weeks that I had her and was to the point to where she could hardly get up and move. The decision that I made was a very difficult decision and was not a decision that came easy for me. I made te decision to have Lucy put to sleep based on her quality of life. She weighed less than 5lbs and was very, very weak. Besides the fact that her little lungs were completely eaten up with infection, she was also having a lot of other issues as well. It was more humane for her to be put to sleep than for me to try to keep her alive for my own personal issues. If you think for one minute that I allowed hr to be put to sleep because I didn't want to give her a "chance", you are very sadly mistaken!
    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11

  9. #28
    Senior Member Angie's Bella's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Quote Originally Posted by c_ras View Post
    Out of curiousity, what vet did you take her to?
    Parkway was the vet that so poorly diagnosed her. If they had done more for the puppy I really believe the outcome would have been much different. Although, I should have taken her to my regular vet to begin with. The only reason I was going to Parkway is because that was who spayed her (which is where Animal Control sends all the animals to be s/n) and a lot of times I dis use them for rescue due to the fact that they are less expensive and I pay for all the rescue I do out of my own pocket. I thought that if I could save money by using a vet that was less expensive I could save more lives, turns out that it cost a sweet little dog her life. I can assure you that I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER take another animal there.

    By the way, I didn't see your second post until after I had posted in regards to your first post. I completely understand what you were trying to say, and you are right, people do need to give their dog a fighting chance. Saving the life of a dog can get expensive, but to me that is a risk you take when you adopt one. If people aren't willing to pay the price to take care of a dog if it is sick, then they do not need to get a dog in the first place. Again, thank you for your post, your dog is really lucky to have responsible owners!
    Lord help me to be the person my dogs think I am."

  10. #29
    Junior Member c_ras's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie's Bella View Post
    Parkway was the vet that so poorly diagnosed her. If they had done more for the puppy I really believe the outcome would have been much different. Although, I should have taken her to my regular vet to begin with. The only reason I was going to Parkway is because that was who spayed her (which is where Animal Control sends all the animals to be s/n) and a lot of times I dis use them for rescue due to the fact that they are less expensive and I pay for all the rescue I do out of my own pocket. I thought that if I could save money by using a vet that was less expensive I could save more lives, turns out that it cost a sweet little dog her life. I can assure you that I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER take another animal there.

    By the way, I didn't see your second post until after I had posted in regards to your first post. I completely understand what you were trying to say, and you are right, people do need to give their dog a fighting chance. Saving the life of a dog can get expensive, but to me that is a risk you take when you adopt one. If people aren't willing to pay the price to take care of a dog if it is sick, then they do not need to get a dog in the first place. Again, thank you for your post, your dog is really lucky to have responsible owners!
    QFT. Well said! Parkway was where we originally took Chance to. We were actually forced to go there because every other place we contacted was not taking any new clients at the time or couldn't get him in for several weeks. I have never heard of that before, but that was what everyone was saying. Anyways, Parkway was the one that said he had kennel cough. Luckily we decided to check into Banfield (yeah..who would have ever thought a great vet would be in a PetsMart store?) and we couldn't be any happier with the amount they do and the care/love they have for animals.

  11. #30
    Senior Member Angie's Bella's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    I use Dr. LaRoux at Cedar Grove for my Bella and she is great as well.
    Lord help me to be the person my dogs think I am."

  12. #31
    Senior Member Melissa_Chloe's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    I am sorry for what happened to this puppy .. I am in a similar situation now with a foster. I think he might have distemper.

    What is the tests done to figure out if it is Distemper?

    My foster is in rough shape, he has skin problems, eye problems, and now this morning a lot of green goop coming from his nose ... so now I am thinking he might have distemper ... or kennel cough, but I want to make sure of what it is.

  13. #32
    Senior Member Angie's Bella's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Unfortunately there really isn't a test to diagnose distemper. The way my puppy was diagnosed was because she was so sick and even with antibiotics she just got worst. My vet did some x-rays and her lungs were so eat up that he couldn't believe that she was even alive and she was getting worst. She had this terrible cough, runny eyes and nose and a high fever (I think the fever is the biggest sign) and she couldn't even get up and walk around. The only real diagnoses for distemper is that dogs that live through the initial out break usually develop a neurological disorder from it, kind of like a twitch.

    As I am sure you read, I made the decision to have my puppy put to sleep because it was more humane than letting her suffer. You need to take your puppy to the vet!! If it is distemper then there will usually be several cases that show up. After my puppy was put to sleep that facility that I adopted her from was on the news for the distemper outbreak.

    Has your puppy had her shots?? If so, then the chance of her having distemper is really small. The vaccine for distemper works really well. Just get your puppy to the vet ASAP, because even if it has distemper, it doesn't have to be a death sentence. A lot of dogs live through it with proper vet care.
    Lord help me to be the person my dogs think I am."

  14. #33
    Senior Member Melissa_Chloe's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Oh ok, yeh I didn't think there was a test but I thought it sounded like you had one done, but I understand more now.

    He isn't a puppy. He is about 2 -3 years old. I started fostering him last Thursday. I called my vet this morning, he was about to go into surgery for the day but was going to get some other people at the clinic to dig up information and I have to call them later. He said pretty much the only thing that would be done now he thinks would be to put him on antibiotics but he is already on antibiotics since last Friday for his skin. So I guess maybe at this point it is wait and see?
    Luckily my other 3 dogs have been vaccinated, but they are now seperated.
    He doesn't seem to have a fever, at least not the times I've checked. He sleeps 24 hours a day since last Thursday (I thought maybe he was just regaining his strength as he is very skinny). He doesn't eat much , I had him on rice and beef because he had diarrhea but once hs diarhea diappeared I took him off the rice and beef and back to dog food but he doesn't eat much of the dog food (he always ate the rice, so I might put him back on that), he has green goop coming from his nose, and gags a lot like he is going to throw up but he isn't throwing up.

    So I guess right now it is wait and see what the vet says.

    I am hopeful we can find a home that will pay for all this stuff - neutering, entropian surgery, his bottom lip is rolled over his bottom teeth so will need surgrey for that, and now this.

    Heres Seymor lol













    He is such a happy boy and loves to wag his tail. He isn't interested in the other dogs, just in what I am doing and he loves to be beside me at all times.
    He is such an easy going, loving boy ... I hope he pulls through.

    I have to ask, were you there with the puppy when she was pts?
    If, (HOPEFULLY NOT) this is what needs to happen with poor Seymor, I will ... it will be hard, but I couldn't not. Ok I am tearing up just thinking about that lol ... hopefully he will have a good chance at fighting it off!

  15. #34
    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Be aware that even if a dog has been vaccinated, they can still get Distemper if exposed to the virus. I had an 8 mo old Cocker mix that I got at 4 mo, that I had vaccinated against it. Unfortunately, some asshat at the barn, that I later found out KNEW her dog had Distemper, was letting her dog come to the barn, and play with my dog. So they would both pee and sniff regularly. My dog got diagnosed w/Distemper 2 weeks after her dog was PTS due to Distemper. I had to have my dog PTS because he lost control of his hind end, and was having muscle cramping. The vet later told me that even though they are vaccinated, they can still get it. Especially if they are young and haven't been getting vaccinated for years, like older dogs. He also said some breeds are more supseptible to not ever truly developing an immunity...Huskies were one he mentioned.

    I'd probably be cautious and not let your dog sniff in areas where the puppy has been.
    Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.

  16. #35
    Senior Member Angie's Bella's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Quote Originally Posted by Melissa_Chloe View Post
    I have to ask, were you there with the puppy when she was pts?
    If, (HOPEFULLY NOT) this is what needs to happen with poor Seymor, I will ... it will be hard, but I couldn't not. Ok I am tearing up just thinking about that lol ... hopefully he will have a good chance at fighting it off!
    I was there, and it was very sad, peaceful, but sad. I cried all the way home because I felt like I had failed her in some way. I could cry again just thinking about it.

    Seeing how bad Seymor's skin looks, he may be sleeping a lot because he can rest with out itching all the time. I had a dog years ago that had a real bad flea allergy and when she would get a flea on her she would scratch until she had no hair on her back end. My vet would give her a shot of an antiflammatory (sp?) called Vetalog? and she would stop itching right away, but then she would sleep for days. I asked my vet about this, thinking it was something in the shot that made her do this and he said that it was because when they are itching non stop, they can't rest so when the itching stops they sleep until they get their strength back. Hopefully that is what Seymor is doing.

    The cough with the gag sounds like kennel cough. Almost every dog tat I have rescued from the pound has had tat cough with the gag. Ask your vet, but my vet told me that benedryl was a good choice to help with the kennel cough. I think the dose on the benedryl is 1mg per pound, but ask your vet. I am no vet by no means, but that is what I have used in the past.

    Please keep me posted on how Seymor is doing, I hope all turns out good for him. He has the face that makes me want to just kiss him!!!
    Lord help me to be the person my dogs think I am."

  17. #36
    Senior Member Melissa_Chloe's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Yeh I had thought all weekend he was resting to get better from something.

    His skin isn't an itchy condition. We got a skin scraping done and it wasn't mange/no mites.

    He said a word for his skin ... pyr something lol, but was confident the antibiotics would clear it up.

    I will see about the kennel cough, he mentioned it but had said that with KC there isn't any mucus that comes out of the nose. Maybe he is mistaken though.

  18. #37
    Senior Member Donna5503's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    I'm so sorry you & your puppy had to go through that --- but you made the right decision -- your puppy sounded very sick.

    When you feel better --- I would definitely let the 1st Clinic that you took her to know what happened .....maybe your Vet could of helped her if they didn't mis-diagnose her from the start --- precious time wasted --- I would investigate why they dismissed it that easily -- they should have known what was wrong!

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you ....just know she is not suffering anymore.


    "He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." -- Author Unknown

  19. #38
    Senior Member Angie's Bella's Avatar
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    Quote Originally Posted by Donna5503 View Post
    I'm so sorry you & your puppy had to go through that --- but you made the right decision -- your puppy sounded very sick.

    When you feel better --- I would definitely let the 1st Clinic that you took her to know what happened .....maybe your Vet could of helped her if they didn't mis-diagnose her from the start --- precious time wasted --- I would investigate why they dismissed it that easily -- they should have known what was wrong!

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you ....just know she is not suffering anymore.
    Thank you, and I did let them know. I also told them some other things about that sad excuse they call a clinic. The only reason I ever went there was because that was the place that animal control uses and that was where they had sent me to get the shot, spay, ect. I do believe if they would have taken the time to find out why Lucy wasn't getting better things would have been very different.

    The sad thing is, there are so many people who take their pets to that clinic simply because animal control sends them there and they are cheap.
    Lord help me to be the person my dogs think I am."

  20. #39
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    Re: My rescue puppy has distemper

    We got our puppy about a month and a half ago and she was diagnosed with a "mild case of distemper" last week. All of her symptoms could have been caused by something other than distemper but the vets we have seen seem sure.

    You're story is very sad and I'm terrified that I will have to put my puppy down as well. Her quality of life isn't bad and she's still a happy pretty healthy playful puppy and has actually started looking better than before. What really touches me is that your pup was named Lucy, which is ours name.

    The inspirational story about the puppy who survived is hopeful though I know that it is unlikely. I can't bring myself to put our puppy down.. atleast not until there is proof that there is no hope she will recover. It's so difficult because she's almost like a child which I could never bring myself to put her down when she's happy and not in pain.

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