Blk 1002, Toa Payoh Lor 8, 01-1477, Singapore 319074Tel: +65 6254-3326, 9668-6468,,
Focus: Small animals -dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, pet rats and mice, birds and turtles      
November 05, 2020
Case reports written in 2003



Case 1.  Parvovirus. The Golden Retriever puppy shot fresh blood

Golden retriever puppy passed red blood in stools "The puppies had been vaccinated twice in Australia," the pet shop owner told me. "Now, four are passing blood in their stools!"  Two were Golden Retrievers and two were Dachshunds.  The other imported puppies were normal.

This was an emergency. At the breeding kennel, one Retriever shot out large amounts of blood and intestinal pieces from his backside, as if to verify the pet shop owner's complaints. 

Its intestines were bleeding profusely and breaking up.  I did not tell the owner but there was no hope of survival for this little one as he knew the odds were against him.  The other three puppies had small amounts of fresh blood in the stools. A parvovirus test on the stools revealed positive parvovirus. There is no anti-viral treatment for parvoviral infections in dogs. The supportive treatment is fluid therapy and antibiotics.  

I injected the puppies with antibiotics and gave dextrose and normal saline fluids.  The pet shop owner would have to follow up with rehydration and antibiotics daily and separate the puppies in another area. 

Was it a parvoviral infection?

Puppies should have been vaccinated before they were exported to Singapore.  The Singapore Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prohibited the import of puppies younger than twelve weeks old and they must be vaccinated against distemper and parvoviral infections at least twice.

So, were the four puppies protected against parvoviral infections? If they were vaccinated, the puppies had not developed antibodies to the parvovirus.

Could they be saved by "drips"?  Some but not all pet shop owners believed that puppies infected by parvoviruses would survive if they were given electrolytes and water early.

I spoke to one dog breeder about parvovirus. He was sure that drips injected by him daily enabled his Pekinese puppy to survive the parvoviral infection. "How many puppies did you treat?" I asked him. "Only one," he said.  It was 100% success rate.

All breeders and pet shop owners would suffer large losses in puppy whenever the parvoviruses got established inside their kennels.

A seventy-year-old breeder best described the fatal situation when he said: "Even with large bags of electrolytes under its armpits and body, the parvovirus killed the puppies."    

If it was that easy to cure the highly infectious and contagious viral disease!  Most veterinary surgeons would not ward puppies passing blood in the stools as the parvoviruses would infect the other patients.  The chances of survival are very slim as there are no effective anti-viral drugs.

Fresh bloods in the stools of an Australian-imported Dachshund puppyDeaths always strain the relationship between the breeder/pet shop owner and the veterinarian unless the former has more knowledge of the survival rates.  In puppies, there are no anti-viral products against the parvoviruses.  Even if there were, the costs of treatment would be higher than the cost of the puppy.  

In this case, the pet shop owner did not feel angry towards me when two out of four puppies died. The Retriever that passed a ot of blood died the next day while a Dachshund became thinner and thinner and died after a week.

If the puppies were properly vaccinated by the foreign breeder, how could they be infected by the parvoviruses? Full protection against the parvoviruses would take at least two vaccinations. It was possible that the two dead puppies did not have sufficient time to develop the parvoviral antibodies.

The pet shop owner decided to vaccinate all the remaining puppies although their vaccination was not yet due. There were no more cases of blood in the stools.

Case 2.  False Pregnancy. Show and tell. A drop of milk is worth a thousand words

"Is this a new breed of Dachshund? She is very small in size."  I asked Mrs Soh who brought in a small dog with short legs and a long body, about the length of the Singapore phone book. She was about the size of the bigger tom cats seen in Singapore.

She had an appointment for spaying and had starved the bitch for the past twelve hours with no food or water. 

Although I did not ask Mrs Soh whether the bitch had been mated, I presume that she was not as most young working Singaporean couples living in apartments do not breed dogs.

The bitch had unusually large nipples. Changes in the size of the nipples are usually the result of pregnancy and this bitch looked as if it had been pregnant in the last four weeks.    

Mrs Soh was shocked.  "This is a cross bred Dachshund. She is around one-year old.  She can never be pregnant as she was at home all the time." If the bitch had not been naughty and definitely had no encounters with a male dog, how could she be pregnant?  This must be what most Owners would think.

I showed Mrs Soh the slightly enlarged breasts and all the larger than normal nipples. The vulva lips were also larger than normal indicating a recent heat. 

Since Mrs Soh had not seen other bitches and this is the first time she had a dog, the sizes of the bitch's female reproductive system did not make an impression. She must have thought that I had mis-diagnosed a pregnancy. 

I palpated the mammary tissues and pressed up from the base of the tissues.  A barely visible drop of light yellow milk oozed out from the front nipple. Milk production must have been shutting down, otherwise there would be a stronger squirt.

Mrs Soh saw the milk but not her husband who came into the consultation room a few minutes later.  Only one drop and no more. From only one nipple. It was the ending stage of false pregnancy.  

I prefer not to spay a bitch with false pregnancy as some milk from the breast tissues may be incised when I operated.  Milk will then leak into the operating area and worse of all, into the abdomen and cause peritonitis and infection. 

"Can you wait another two weeks before surgery so that the milk production would have stopped completely?" I asked Mrs Soh.  It would be Chinese New Year and it would be difficult to care for the bitch after surgery during the festive week with so many visitors coming to visit the Soh family. She may have to take leave from work to bring the bitch in again.

Dachshunds are famous for having false pregnancies but not all of them will suffer from this medical condition. The cause would be an abnormal hormonal system.

Since the bitch was healthy and milk production had almost ended, I decided to spay her. I gave her a tranquiliser and then gas anaesthetic.  She slept well during anaesthesia.  Her uterus or womb was considerably enlarged, about ten times bigger than a bitch without a false pregnancy condition. 

Although Mrs Soh was referred by her friend to me, she was a first-time client and trust had to be earned.  Fortunately for me  there was milk production.  The very last drop to substantiate a diagnosis of false pregnancy.  Seeing a drop of milk is worth a thousand words as the vet "must show, not tell'.  


Toa Payoh Vets