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New Puppy Blues - Intussusception in Dogs

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Author of fiction novels, short stories, book reviews and other online content, Peggy Cole has been writing articles on HubPages since 2009.

Getting Acquainted Room at the SPCA

Tony in the SPCA Meet and Greet Room

Tony in the SPCA Meet and Greet Room

Finding the Right Puppy

When we searched for a dog to add to the family, we were determined to find a good match for our ten-year old Cookie. She had trouble in the past with being territorial, fighting with our other female. We knew that finding the right puppy was the key to her accepting a companion.

We'd been to the SPCA several times before we spotted a litter of black Lab mix puppies among the din of barking older dogs. At 7-weeks old, he weighed less than ten pounds. Sound asleep on top of his sister, he'd already been neutered, was up to date on his puppy shots and was ready for adoption.

From the moment they brought him into the room and he looked into my eyes, there was no doubt he was the one.

Adoption Day

Ten-year old Cookie with her new brother

Ten-year old Cookie with her new brother

Living in the Country

Most of our pets came as strays that wandered up to our house in the country. All were malnourished, lost and abandoned. We'd seen golden retrievers, great Danes, Dalmatians, chows, shepherds, and even a pair of Labradors with 5 puppies dumped off by people who didn't want them.

Our house was always hairy and noisy with the four dogs we were able to keep. When the third one died of old age we were ready to add a new member to our family.

Tony didn't want to go for a walk. He just wanted to go back to sleep.

Tony didn't want to go for a walk. He just wanted to go back to sleep.

Interview and Paperwork

The adoption process seemed to take forever as we signed forms and gave information on our household setup. Did we have a fence? Would the dog be let inside? We could still hear the pleading barks of the adult dogs echoing all the way to the front area.

Finally, we were given a folder of care instructions, canine coupons and a small bag of puppy food. Flourishing our brightly colored, purple leash we headed out, eager to get home and let the new guy meet Cookie.

Tony getting acquainted with his new big sister the last surviving member of our four dogs.

Tony getting acquainted with his new big sister the last surviving member of our four dogs.

Frisky No More

Within a few weeks of his adoption, Tony began to refuse food, vomit a bile-like mucus, and show no interest in his surroundings. These were symptoms of a potentially fatal disease called Intussusception. He needed immediate medical attention.

We got a same-day appointment to see our veterinarian who has cared for our pets for fifteen years. She struggled to find the cause. He had no signs of a fever, no evidence of ingesting pesticides and no worms. The vet said "Labs tend to chew on anything and everything." To rule out ingestion of a foreign object she took a lateral x-ray which revealed only a gas pattern; no evidence of a swallowed toy, rawhide chewie or other object. Tony got an anti-nausea injection and we took him home.

Tony's abrupt change from frisky to inactive had us quite concerned.

Tony's abrupt change from frisky to inactive had us quite concerned.

The Symptoms

We left the Veterinarian's office on Monday hoping to see some improvement in Tony. Though it was nice not getting chewed on by his sharp little teeth, it was disturbing to see how lethargic and disinterested he was acting.

In the middle of the night I found him sitting at the door waiting to go outside. Despite his refusing food for two days, his diarrhea continued. He wanted nothing more than to go out and come back inside to his bed.

By the next afternoon, we checked Tony into the hospital. It was tough to leave him overnight, but that's where he needed to be. He looked up with pitiful eyes as the vet technician took him to the back. I cried all the way home.

As a puppy, he loved to eat clumps of grass.

As a puppy, he loved to eat clumps of grass.

While You Were Out

Thursday morning early, I phoned to check on Tony who seemed to be acting like a puppy again and back to normal. They said he had eaten his dinner the night before and breakfast this morning. Tony could go home.

Scroll to Continue

While we ran errands waiting for time to pick him up, we missed two calls from the vet. I called the clinic back and the doctor came on the line.

"Tony's not coming home," she said. My heart stopped until she continued, "We're taking him in for emergency surgery."

Tony after surgery

Tony after surgery

Exploratory Surgery

Tony was taken in for exploratory abdominal surgery that afternoon. The vet believed Tony had intussusception and felt surgery would stabilize his irregular intestinal spasms. We were stunned that our four-month old puppy was having such a struggle.

The house was once again way too quiet without Tony's antics, playing and jumping and trying to stuff toys into the back of Cookie's head. We paced the floor and tried to remain positive. I called the clinic a few times after hours to check up. No one answered the phone. Soon I stopped calling, fearing the worst. It was a long night.

Under the watchful eye of big sister Cookie.

Under the watchful eye of big sister Cookie.

The Road to Recovery

Safe in Grandma's arms

Safe in Grandma's arms

Intussusception refers to an inflammation of the intestines, where a portion of the intestine has slipped out of its normal place (prolapse) and a portion of the intestine has folded over itself (invagination)."

— Pet MD


Intussusception is the most common cause for bowel obstruction in children and is often seen in puppies too. Our vet explained that the intestine telescopes back into itself causing an area of tubing to overlap. If left untreated, this can lead to cellular death of the overlapped section, the onset of infection and eventually death. Most cases have no known cause.

Given prompt attention, this disorder can be repaired. The first course of action often taken is an air or barium enema which reveals the condition and sometimes actually fixes the damage and no further treatment is needed. The barium series did not fix Tony so they began exploratory surgery on his abdomen.

Learning the ropes about guarding the back yard from his older sister

Learning the ropes about guarding the back yard from his older sister


The surgery was successful in restoring the intestine to the proper position and Tony came through the operation fine. His behavior soon returned to his normal puppy playfulness.

His two week recovery after surgery included restricted outdoor activities and walks on a leash. The vet prescribed a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice to help his intestines return to their normal rhythm. At the end of two weeks his stitches were removed and we were thrilled that he didn't mess with them or need an Elizabethan collar.

Thanks to our wonderful veterinarians, Tony is back to normal enjoying his days as a happy go lucky puppy. Their quick diagnosis and immediate action undoubtedly saved his life.

Best Friends

As Cookie got older she developed Cushing's disease which made her thirsty all the time. Here they're sharing a drink together.

As Cookie got older she developed Cushing's disease which made her thirsty all the time. Here they're sharing a drink together.

Tony at Five

Tony is five years old and weighs a hundred and two pounds.

Tony is five years old and weighs a hundred and two pounds.

Following the loss of his companion, Tony's loneliness and grief took us back to the SPCA where we found him a new companion, a six-month old puppy we named Indiana Jones. After one tense day of adjusting to each other, they became fast friends. Now, they're inseparable, enjoying each day for whatever it brings.

Tony and His New Friend

Tony Curtis and Indiana Jones, BFFs

Tony Curtis and Indiana Jones, BFFs

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2010 Peg Cole


Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on November 16, 2020:

Thank you, Rose Jones.

Rose Jones on November 15, 2020:

Thanks so much for sharing the love of the dogs in their lives.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on February 02, 2017:

Hi Maria, Thanks for stopping back in on this one. It is amazing that our pups are so much alike. Labs really are gentle giants with sweet personalities. Tony will turn seven in a few days and he's taught Indy so much about family life it's amazing.

Love to you and all of your family.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on February 01, 2017:

Always good to re-read and be aware of what to look for with these beauties of ours, dear Peg.

I am so grateful for your quick interventions - Tony is a beautiful boy, then and now...and Indy is a darling as well.

Love you and your fur babies, Maria, Andy and Zoey

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on August 16, 2014:

Hello Faith, Thank you for dropping by to see Tony's baby pics and to read about his close call. Your Max is probably as faithful and loving as our Lab mix, Tony. They are such great companions. Yes, when I saw Maria's little Andy, I was instantly reminded of when mine was just a pup. Many blessings in return and thanks so much for pinning and tweeting.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on August 16, 2014:

Hi Shyron, Nice to see you here. Thanks for stopping in to read about little Tony's puppy ailment. We're thankful that he turned out okay, too. Dogs can really teach us so much about resilience. Fox Terriers are truly smart and great companions. I would love to read a hub about your Misha. What a cute name!

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on August 16, 2014:

Hi Maria, Thanks so much for dropping in to check out little Tony. Seeing the pics of Andy reminded me so much of the joys of raising a puppy. They are so trusting and loving (and bitey) at that stage. I'm glad that you've found someone to share the abundant love you have to give and look forward to many stories of his antics. Love to you and Andy. Thanks for sharing, too.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 15, 2014:

Aw, Tony is such a handsome dog. His baby pictures are adorable. I am so happy he has enjoyed a happy life now after the surgery. I can imagine how disturbed you were to see your baby not doing well and I am glad they figured out what it was, and I have never heard of such. I know labs do love to chew. We have a chocolate lab now, Max. He is extra loving.

Your Tony reminds me of my friend, Maria's new baby, Andy.

Voted up and more tweeting and pinning


Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on August 15, 2014:

Scary story but important information. Precious dog and I am so glad Tony is alright. Good thing you took him to the Vet right away.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 15, 2014:

Peg, I am so glad that Tony has you to love and take care of him, happy that the surgery went well and everything is back to normal.

I am glad for you that Tony and Cookie are pals. Tony is growing so fast.

Our last pet was a toy Fox Terrier, Misha was so beautiful and smart.

Thumbs up UABI and shared

Have a blessed weekend


Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 15, 2014:

Dear Peg,

Thank you for guiding me to this heartwarming 'tail' of Tony, who indeed is the big bro of my Andy.

While I am sorry for Tony's episode of intussusception, thanks for sharing in such detail that we may all be alert for signs and symptoms / take quick action.

I love seeing the relationship between Cookie and Tony develop through your wonderful pictures, as well as the loving bond you and "J" established with Tony from the start. The video is adorable.

Voted UP and all across plus 'adorable' - sharing! Hoping you all have a doggone great weekend. Love, Maria and Andy

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on July 25, 2014:

Oh you poor dear, Au fait. What a terrible shame about your allergies and the fact that it prevents you from having a pet. It must be severely limiting not to be able to visit places where animals have been. And growing up on a farm, you must have had a difficult time with all the pollen and cultivation of plants.

I'm sure your daughter understands, but that makes the issue even more difficult with her owning cats. So sorry to hear your late husband had intussusception. That can be very dangerous.

My Mom has allergies to just about everything, and rather than turning into a baritone, she coughs rather non-stop. Her sister had a cat when she came to live here with Mom after their older sis passed away. The cat had to be confined to Lou's room which made for a different kind of alienation.

Thank you for your very early heartwarming comment and your important message about allergies. What a shame that is that you're allergic to so many things. Pets provide such unconditional love and companionship.

C E Clark from North Texas on July 25, 2014:

So glad everything worked out well for Tony and your family. Believe it or not, my late husband suffered this same condition as a small child. He also had surgery, and he never got over the experience completely, always fearing it might return.

Yes, sadly I am allergic to all animals and while I become a baritone within seconds of exposure, and the itchy throat and itchy runny eyes can be a problem, the biggest issue is asthma. I had my first known allergy attack when I was just 7, and that was not to an animal, but to fresh peas we were shucking. I grew up on a farm.

Allergies tend to get worse with every exposure to the allergens. I develop new allergies all the time. Frequent exposure to something, and especially getting that something into my system through a scratch or a cut is the problem. I was not allergic to cats until my allergy doctor tested me for cat and he did that with a skin test similar to the one used for Tuberculosis where syrum is inject under the skin. After I reacted to the test he asked me if I was allergic to cats, and I told him I had been able to rub my face on my cat with no reaction. He said, "Well, you're allergic to cats now." Thanks to the under the skin test he performed.

One of these days I'll live in a bubble. I all but never go into anyone else's home. My daughter has cats and just the hair on her clothes is enough to cause a reaction, so I rarely see her.

The doc told me that the cure would likely be worse than the problem and that I might die from the treatment. Took shots for 5 years to remedy my allergies to plants, dust, mold, etc., and every time my arm would swell up, turn red, and get hot. Always had to stay at doc's office for 1-2 hours after each weekly, and later monthly shot, to make sure I didn't have a lethal reaction.

Love animals and they love me, but I can't touch them and must avoid them as best possible. Have written many times about my allergies in the comments sections of various hubs and have remarked on how much I miss the ability to feed the wild animals now that I live in an apartment complex.

So glad things worked out well with Tony. A heartwarming story.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on February 07, 2013:

Thanks SG for dropping by to read Tony's tale. Tomorrow will be his third birthday and we are grateful every day to have him with us. He is healthy and the best friend I've ever had.

I read your Jake story some time back but I'll be over to give it a second read. Those labs and lab mix pups are so incredible.

Thanks so much for the visit and the awesome comments.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on February 07, 2013:

This is such a wonderful, heart warming hub! I was afraid of the ending for a little while! I'm so glad Tony is doing fine. I know what you mean about those pitiful doggie faces at the shelters. I can barely stand it, I want to take them all home with me. I wrote a hub about a black lab that came to us for a short time, we named him Jake. You may have already read it, but this sure reminded me of him. I really enjoyed all the pictures and the video! I still have a smile on my face. Up and awesome, Peg! :)

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on August 31, 2011:

Thank you Gloshei. You know personally how much they appreciate it forever when they're rescued. Thank goodness there are people like you as well. Would love to hear the details of your little Jinny.


Gloria from France on August 30, 2011:

Hi Peg,

I have just read your article on your puppy, where would these animals bee without people like you.

We did the same I may post it.

Lovely words.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on March 21, 2011:

Hi toknow, Thank you so much for dropping by. We are very fortunate to have found a loving, sweet dog who has brought so much laughter and joy into our home.

In the past, many strays found their way out here to our house. It was really difficult not to keep every one of them. But the ones who stayed were well loved and quite spoiled.

toknowinfo on March 21, 2011:

Heartwarming story, great pictures, and all around wonderful hub. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope Tony continues to be a happy go lucky dog. Rescuing an animal is gratifying and rewarding for both the owner and the dog.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on February 08, 2011:

Mrs. J.B., You are sweet to stop in and read Tony's story. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Purple Perl - Your Brownie and Jerry (love the names!) are two lucky pups. You sound like a loving and kind person. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment.

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on February 07, 2011:

PegCole17, I have 2 strays at home too-Brownie and Jerry! We love them and I can understand your emotions as you describe. I am glad for Tony and Cookie that they have your love. Truly adorable in the pictures! Loved them!

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on February 02, 2011: