Fluffy - The Miracle Dog

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The Rescue
The Illness
The Diagnosis
The Crisis
The Commitment
Please Help
The Village
The Illness

With every animal that finds a loving home, the guardian should be mindful of the various health issues that rescue dogs may experience and may need to be treated for.  From fleas, ticks, and worms, to infections, sores, etc. every animal should be checked by a veterinarian and obtain a clean bill of health.  Fluffy was no exception.

I was worried by some sores on his belly that appeared to be raised and filled with pus.  Fluffy had a badly swollen knee on his right hind leg which I also wanted to have examined.  Not knowing the history of Fluffy or his littermates, I concluded that he may have experienced minor trauma that caused the swelling in his leg.  I was concerned but thought the condition, with proper treatment, would resolve.  Fluffy also appeared to be uncomfortable, limping, constantly crying, and trying to itch.  At first, I thought a nice oatmeal bath with soothing shampoo would help relieve his discomfort.  Fluffy limped around on three legs, but did not seem to be terribly bothered by his lack of mobility.  He was playful and full of life as any puppy would be, stalking and pouncing on my other two dogs, a Westie named Theodore and a Yorkie named Barclay.  I commented on how good Fluffy was.  He was amazingly well-behaved - not boisterous like my other dogs.  As I look back, I realize his good behavior was a sign of how really sick he was.

I have a wonderful veterinarian, Dr. Sharon Glass of Family Pet Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  She has treated my other dogs since they were puppies and I had complete trust in her competency and care for Fluffy.  On a Saturday evening, I gave Fluffy a warm oatmeal bath in the bathroom sink, tucked him in bed, and wished everyone a good night.  The next morning when I awoke, Fluffy was covered with oozing sores, filled with green and yellow fluids.  I thought this may be serious enough to to call Dr. Glass and to bring Fluffy into the clinic for an emergency exam.

It was Sunday morning and Dr. Glass was kind enough to meet me at the clinic to give Fluffy an exam.  What appeared to be an emergency with his skin condition actually turned out to be a bad case of puppy dermatitis.  But what caused more concern for Dr. Glass and for me was the swollen joint in his hind leg.  Dr. Glass did a quick procedure on Fluffy to drain the fluid from his leg to alleviate the pressure and pain he was experiencing.  He yelped and cried as the needle was inserted into his knee; blood shot out as if it was under extreme pressure.  The relief Fluffy experienced was immediate.  The swelling decreased and it looked as though Fluffy was going to make a full recovery.  He was bandaged and Dr. Glass gave Fluffy some fluids with an IV drop, some vitamins, and medication for his dermatitis.

I brought Fluffy home and watched him as his condition deteriorated.  He was becoming increasingly lethargic and would whimper at the slightest touch.  His dermatitis was getting better, but after a day or two, I noticed that there was a pocket of fluid under his skin where the IV fluids were given.  I called Dr. Glass and took Fluffy back to the clinic for a follow-up exam.

When I arrived, Dr. Glass immediately took my sick little puppy into the examination room.  She drew blood as I watched my little puppy struggle to stay conscious.  The blood that filled the tube did not look like normal blood - it looked as though it were Cherry 7-UP, mostly clear with a hint of pink.  A quick spin-down of his blood in the centrifuge confirmed our fears.  Fluffy's hematocrit level (the number of red blood cells in his vascular system) had dropped below critical levels.  We knew Fluffy was losing blood.  He was bleeding internally, but we did not know why.  He needed a whole blood transfusion - quickly.

 

There is no cure for hemophilia at this time.  Regular transfusions of blood products are needed in order to sustain his life.  These are timely and costly procedures.

Research is being done in the area of gene therapy.  Initial results look favorable, but more tests are needed and years of follow up studies may delay any hope for managing Fluffy's illness.

Fluffy will continue to require transfusion of blood products every month for the rest of his life.