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Dr. Schillig
Dr. Schillig, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 640
Experience:  Dr. Schillig has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 10 years.
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My puppy, Lily, is between 7-9 weeks old. I have only had

Customer Question

My puppy, Lily, is between 7-9 weeks old. I have only had her for 3 weeks now. When I got her, her mother wasn't nursing. I took her to the vet who said that Lily had hookworms, roundworms, fleas and ticks. On top of that she was highly anemic. She gave me medicine and vitamins. By the next visit Lily seemed to be getting puppy energy. Her bowels were solid although her eating was at a minimum. She was even starting to sit by the door when she needed to go outside. The next visit brought good news. We were completely rid of all the worms, fleas and ticks. The vet then gave Lily a distemper and parvo shot. 4 days later she couldn't even stand up to walk or use the bathroom. She wasn't eating anything. I took her to a different vet. He did numerous tests including parvo which came out negative. He said there was an intestinal virus and we left with antibiotics and a 50/50 chance of survival. She seemed to be doing better, but now she is going back downhill. Please help.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Schillig replied 8 years ago.

Hello Barney 13,


I am sorry to hear that your girl is having these problems.


My suspicion is that the anemia that was present was triggered by the fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites. Having said that, the viral infection that may have been there likely prevented absorption of the nutrients that are necessary to make the replacement red cells.


Anemia, if it is severe enough, can be treated with blood transfusions. Otherwise, in a young puppy, supporting her with the food and nursing care that you are giving her should allow her to slowly rebuild the red blood cell counts.


I would be very encouraged to see her eating well, and I think what she needs at this stage is more time.


I hope this helps!

As always, if you have further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to ask them using the "reply" function.

Thank you,

Dr. Schillig

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I appreciate your reply, and I have to say that it is what I wanted to hear. But, for my sanity can I bother you a little more? The 2nd vet I went to said that Lily should have never been given a vaccination due to her anemia. Is this true? And secondly, he gave me an anitbiotic for the infection 6 days ago. I am now out of the antibiotic as of this morning. Do you think it is possible for the viral infection to have passed and this downhill turn is due to the anemia again? And, do you have any tips for the anemia? Any food that I can give her or tricks of the trade? Both vets took tests to determine the severity of the anemia and said she is not severe enough for a blood transfusion. But, neither offered up any treatment for it either stating that the other problems she was faced with were more timely. She started eating puppy food but not a substantial amount, and as of yesterday she can't hold herself up long enough to eat as much as she wants. Before this episode I would cover her food in chicken broth and she would at least drink the broth. I understand that time will be the teller, but I am very concerned because she was improving and now she can't even hold herself up to defecate or walk. And, last question would be, if she continues losing strength and time is really the only thing i can give her, how long until she loses all strength and dies? Not to go overboard, but I should I prepare myself to possibly have to put her down?
Expert:  Dr. Schillig replied 8 years ago.

Hello again,


You are more than welcome to ask as many questions as you have.


I have vaccinated many puppies who would be considered anemic. The fact is that most puppies are borderline anemic just as a result of being a puppy. So, whether the vaccine should be given or not, is really dependent upon the level of anemia.


I will also say that I doubt the vaccine is related. Vaccine reactions generally don't show up like a viral infection. I would be more suspicious about parvo virus (and yes I know it was tested for, but many of these are false negatives early in the disease).


My suspicion is that the anemia is being overblown, especially if it is not low enough to indicate a transfusion.


Puppies can do quite well when recovering from any of these infections, as long as they get appropriate supportive care and stay well hydrated. I would feel better if she was on IV fluids and in hospital, but I think that a need to euthanize her is at least 3-4 days off, especially if she is eating.


Good luck,

Dr. Schillig


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
For the record, both vets used the words "severely anemic" and told me the paleness of her gums and skin is a sign that I should keep my eyes on. When a pinkish color returns that is good news. So far I have yet to see pink.

So should I do anything different as far as caring for her? She hasn't eaten since yesterday mid-afternoon and she doesn't seem interested today. Was the chicken broth soiling her food a good step? And I've had to feed her pedialyte through a dropper since yesterday.

Could you tell me a next step in this process? Should I go get her tested again for Parvo, and a specific diet that you think would be best for her?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I know a hands-on examination is so much easier, but I've heard different answers so another opinion doesn't hurt. As far as IV fluids and the hospital, the price of those procedures are more than I can do right now. I was taking in a puppy that wasn't being nursed not thinking about the severity and financial burden that could come with that. I had only planned for the usual rounds of shots, food, shelter and I would be able to cover an emergency visit, but I was quoted about $800-$1500 for IV. Do you know of any place like a kennel or shelter that take puppies and will nurse them back to health?
Expert:  Dr. Schillig replied 8 years ago.

Hello again,


I am sorry to hear that things have been labeled as severe as far as her anemia is concerned.


Any good quality puppy food or even critical care food (Like a/d from Hills or Recovery from Iams) is a good option for her.

I think that the pedialyte that you are giving is an excellent idea and you should continue that or "Ensure" to try and keep her hydrated and with some calories.


The things that are likely to help from a food standpoint are calories and protein, so if she will take some canned puppy food or one of these specialized diets, that is ideal.


When it comes to running another Parvo test, my question for you is this? Will it change how you treat? If finances are limited, and you can't hospitalize her, then what you are doing is likely to be her best option, regardless of whether or not she has Parvo.


Please understand, this is not a judgment at all, but an attempt to be realistic in regards XXXXX XXXXX care.


As for a local clinic or society that helps, you would be better to ask your local vets, as I am unsure of what is available in your area.


I would make sure that she stays on antibiotics through this. This is because of a concern about a secondary bacterial infection rather than my belief that there is a bacteria causing this, but she is pretty immunocompromised at this stage, and every little bit will help her!


I continue to be available for follow up questions and continue to hope that all goes well for you,

Dr. Schillig

Expert:  Dr. Schillig replied 8 years ago.

For the food, I would ask either veterinarian if they carry Iams Recovery diet. If not, the Hills a/d would be my next choice.

This can be fed by placing small amounts in the mouth at a time and seeing if she will take it. Both diets are high in calories and have good protein levels that should help.


For the anemia, there isn't a great fix quickly. The only quick fix is with a transfusion. Otherwise, the body makes red cells in the bone marrow and spleen. These organs need nutrients from calories and protein to function optimally.


An another option to maintain hydration is to give fluids under the skin. Your veterinarians should be able to help teach you this skill.


I hope this helps,

Dr. Schillig

Dr. Schillig and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hello again, Dr. Schillig,

I spent the night thinking about your answers. I wanted to tell you some of the symptoms Lily has and feel like perhaps, like you said, I am spending too much time focusing on the anemia.

First off, Lily is a Great Pyranees mix. Lily has solid bowels, no diarrhea. She has also never vommitted. While her gums are very white I was able to get her to eat yesterday and she seems very interested in eating but because she can't hold herself up, she seems to just give up when her face falls into the bowl. She will start to walk and it looks as if her legs give out from under her, mostly her front legs, and sometimes it seems she can't hold her head up.

The reason I feel so frustrated is because in the 3 weeks that I've had her, I have seen her have a light in her eyes, but she has never really behaved as a puppy. No playing or chewing. But she has seemed to have energy to the point that she wags her tail and pays attention to you when you talk. While she still does that, it isn't by lifting her head, it is simply by moving her eyes.

My question to you is if I were to come into your practice and leave out the history of the shots and tests, etc., and was to only tell you that my puppy can't hold herself up (obviously with an examination you'd find she was anemic), what would be your diagnosis or guess as to what may be wrong? Considering that she has been worm, tick and flea free now for 2+ weeks, so there would be no sign of that, and the virus is now out of her system. And, what would be the next step?

I feel like this information will help me when I do take Lily to the vet because it will give me a better understanding.

I also wanted to ask if you felt that if she does make it through this, do you think she will be a "sickly dog" or do you think she will be able to return to a normal dog routine and lifestyle?
Expert:  Dr. Schillig replied 8 years ago.

Hello again,


I was hoping that you would be letting me know that she is back to normal and doing wonderfully. I am sorry to hear that is not the case.


In a young puppy who isn't eating well, I would be very concerned about her blood sugar being a cause for the weakness that you describe. These guys simply do not have the reserves that older dogs have to be able to mobilize fat and get energy. From that standpoint, in hospital, I monitor the blood sugar and give IV fluids with Dextrose as needed to maintain the sugar in appropriate levels.

I know that you can't do this at home, but the way to supplement is with the pedialyte or ensure on an hourly or every other hour basis to try and keep the blood sugar up.


An alternative explanation is if she had a distemper virus infection that is now affecting her nerves. This can cause extreme weakness and collapse as well. I don't find this as likely, since she hasn't had the typical symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing and coughing), but I can't 100% rule it out.


Please understand that these are educated guesses. Without seeing her and seeing what her blood sugar and anemia are, I can't say that it isn't her low red cell count causing the weakness.

I don't mean to say to you that the anemia isn't a problem. It is. The point that I was trying to get across (and failing) is that you can't do anything about the anemia at this stage. If the vets think that it is not severe enough to need a transfusion, then it should not be severe enough to cause the weakness that you describe. And short of a transfusion, you can't do anything to raise her red blood cell count except for the supportive care and feedings that you are trying.


Have you been trying to feed with a syringe? Watered down foods like the a/d and the Recovery diets can easily be fed through a syringe (and in some cases where we want to do everything, a feeding tube is an option).


As for her long term prognosis, it depends on the underlying cause. If this was Distemper, she may have long term problems. On the other hand, I have seen many, many dogs who have had Parvo as young pups do very well later in life. So, odds are, if she makes it through this, she would live a normal dog's life (maybe a little spoiled, but normal).


I hope this helps!

I continue to be available for follow up questions if you have them.

I hope that Lilly turns around soon,

Dr. Schillig