Monday Mar 17, 2013
Around 8 days ago, I got a phone call from the Samoyed owner asking whether the dog had a heartworm injection. I took out the case record and said there was no heartworm injection. The owner had brought the dog to Vet 3 as it was not well and Vet 3 was nearby. Vomiting and diarrhoea and fever. Ataxia and unable to stand on his hind legs and so Vet 3 was consulted.
My medical records only showed that the Samoyed came in for high fever of unknown origin around December 2012. He had brain scans done by Vet 1 but his fever did not subside despite treatment by Vet 1 for at least 2 days. The fees were rising or for some other reasons, the dog came to me.
I received this case transferred from Vet 1 as it was quite dramatic. The dog transport couple brought him in panting and recumbent. There was a traffic jam and it was worse. For the next 5 days, the fever returned after intensive treatment. Surely there was no hope for this recumbent dog as the fever recurred.
A Samoyed is as big as a child and I thought there was no hope. No evidence of tick fever parasites. So, naturally, no treatment. However, "no presence under the microscope does not mean it is not there." So I gave the immiticide treatment. The fever subsided. Was it a coincidence or not?
I documented this case because it was unusual as the dog responded to normal temperature after 5 days. The dog went home and the owner used a towel to hold her abdomen up to walk her to the toilet. The dog recovered and I did not hear from the owner till 8 days ago.
So I was surprised that the owner phoned about the heartworm vaccination. 3 days after this phone call, I saw the dog dead at Toa Payoh Vets. "There was no hope," Dr Daniel had given the IV drip and taken a blood sample.
The owner came. A mother in her late 60s and her youngest son taller than her. "How come my dog died? Was it due to the four injections given by Vet 3?" she asked me.
"A post-mortem will be needed to know the cause of death," I said to the mother. "This means the dog's body will be opened up and samples taken for testing. I don't know what are the four injections given by Vet 3 and so I can't say they cause his death."
The mother did not want the post-mortem. "The female sibling ate the duck's necks and bones once but nothing happened. She stole the 7 pieces of fishes on my table and gobbled them up. Nothing affected her health. And yet this Samoyed died after a short illness."
"It is hard to predict life and death," I said. "Vet 3 did say the liver enzymes were higher than normal, indicating a liver disorder." I spent some time talking to her. She could not wait for the cremation man to take the dog for cremation as this man came at 8.45 pm. This was a very sad case as the dog was only 4 years old. The coat had grown back luxuriously and the dog was in an excellent bodily condition, not thin and wasted like sick dogs. As to the cause of death, it remains a mystery. Could this be a resurgence of the tick fever parasites? No blood smear was done for tick fever. The dog did not have any ticks but deaths from chronic tick fever could still occur. This was one of those sadness for a young life lost.