Distemper Story Part 2: Pancake

This post is the second part of the Distemper Story series I wrote to remember Milo’s life (Part 1) and to share the story behind Pancake’s survival (Part 2). And for the sake of putting a disclaimer out there: I have no professional experience in animal care, and am definitely not an expert in the subject of distemper. I only hope that by writing this blog entry, I can help save a life with Pancake’s experience.

5 things I wish I knew about distemper

While I will try to be concise, I will specify as many relevant findings as possible to support your dog with his battle against distemper. Before I delve into the day to day activities that led to Pancake’s utmost recovery, I would like to briefly breakdown the 5 things I wish I had known earlier about distemper:

  1. Preventive care is key. Ensure your dogs are fully vaccinated and have their booster shots scheduled as necessary.
  2. Early detection makes a world of a difference! Monitor your dogs closely, especially puppies that are less than six months old. Have them tested as soon as you notice any symptom that could potentially be associated to distemper, such as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, among others. Better safe than sorry!
  3. Do not have your dog vaccinated when sick or when in the presence of other animals with any type of sickness. This could result to inconclusive results, or expose them to bacterial infection that they previously would not have. Vaccines are meant to trigger antibody generation from a healthy immune system. It won’t be effective and will do more harm than good.
  4. Research and analyze your options. As much as doctors can know best, they are also human and prone to bias. They will have their own opinions and preferences about treatment options. It’s up to us as fur parents to make the final decision for our pets.
  5. Pray always and have a positive, thankful heart. At the end of the day, after all is said and done, we can only pray. Continue to be positive and thankful to God, because your pet can feel your state of mind. Your faith in your pet’s health, in line with your physical and emotional supportive care for them, can move mountains.

Pancake’s story

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I want Pancake to smile like this forever!

Day 1 – April 3, 2017 (Monday)

I was at the office when my sister, Achi Dianne, called me up to notify me about the sad results of Pancake’s diagnosis. She sent me a photo of a strip that looked much like a pregnancy kit. Two lines indicated positive for distemper.

According to Achi Dianne, the doctor drew blood from Pancake through an injection into a syringe. A few droplets of his blood were then dripped into the round test casette. This is how the test kit worked.

When the second line turned opaque on Pancake’s test, the Marikina Vet Hospital (MVH) quickly had Pancake leave the premises, like they did with Milo. The doctor and his staff then immediately sprayed the clinic with a disinfectant aerosol; this is how serious the distemper’s airborne bacteria is. Afterwards, they brought Achi Dianne to the concierge and gave us a similar prescription they issued Milo. This included (1) Isoprenosine to stimulate the immune system, (2) Juroclav to treat bacterial infections in dogs, (3) Previcox to relieve pain and inflammation, (4) Neurovet for antioxidants, and (4) Nutripet Gel for energy.

The medication they recommended were all valid. Nevertheless, in my purview, had no longer sufficed as the only treatment for Pancake. I lost one dog, and could not afford to lose another one, especially not Pancake. I was determined to find another vet who could offer Pancake better chances against distemper.

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Pancake’s distemper result.

One of my colleagues at the office overheard news about Pancake’s distemper condition. She reached out to me and referred me to Animal Wonder, a local vet practice in Caloocan City who did home service for anti-distemper injections.

She disclosed that over five years ago, she experienced the worst nightmare any pet owner could ever imagine, but Animal Wonder came through. Long story short, my colleague’s female dog apparently had distemper when she already began breastfeeding her eight offspring. My colleague merely found out when she observed twitching behavior from one of the puppies. As soon as my colleague’s vet confirmed her dog’s diagnosis, they started daily anti-distemper injections to all eight dogs for a period of seven days. The incident broke my friend’s heart. One dog died every day, until only one puppy survived towards the end. She said since that last serum injection in 2012, there has not been any single incident of tremors by her miracle puppy again. The moral lesson of her narrative? Don’t give up!

I called up Animal Wonder ASAP after talking to my colleague. As anticipated, they could not provide home service for my residence in Antipolo from their clinic in Caloocan. Nonetheless, it was during this phone call that I discovered what they referred to as the Canglob-D shot, which was the exact anti-distemper serum they gave my colleague’s dogs.

I kept searching on Google until I came across Companion Animal Veterinary Clinic (CAVC) on Sumulong Highway in Antipolo. The clinic was a measly one mile away from MVH! I briskly contacted them, and was told that they had Canglob D available in the clinic. They were closing early that Monday, but were kind enough to stay behind to accommodate Pancake when I notified them about Pancake’s distemper. I was still at the office around 5pm, but was blessed to have a driver, my Achi Dianne, and our dear Ate Berna at home to rush my corgi to Dr. David Arceo at CAVC.

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Dr. David Arceo of Compassion Animal Veterinary Clinic gives Pancake his first Canglob D shot.

Day 3 – April 5, 2017 (Wednesday)

Since Pancake was still very strong on his first visit with CAVC, Dr. Arceo asked to see him every other day. Dr. Arceo instructed us to continue with the medicine prescribed by MVH as supplement to Canglob D.

Furthermore, my Achi Dianne had imparted to him during Pancake’s initial consultation that I brought Pancake to get vaccinated at MVH sometime in the course of Milo’s 6-day confinement for parvo (more on Milo’s story here). Dr. Arceo stated that this is a big no-no! Upon knowing this information, Dr. Arceo gave us heads up that Pancake’s distemper results might not actually be accurate. As it could have been skewed by his vaccination from two weeks ago. Nonetheless, he assured us that Canglob D had no known negative side effects, and was safe to apply on Pancake; regardless of whether he had distemper or not.

Canglob D is essentially an immune booster, targeted against distemper, for dogs. It instigates the production of antibodies to prevent disease or assuage succession of the disease. At CAVC, Dr. Arceo charged Php 850.00 per Canglob D shot and Php 250.00 for each consultation.

Day 5 – April 7, 2017 (Friday)

We took Pancake to Dr. Arceo for his third Canglob D shot. There had not been any severe signs of distemper for Day 5 except that he had a temperature that day and was more picky with his food. He was not as lively or bossy as he normally was either. Even at night, he was restless. He seemed feeble, but did not find it himself to sleep comfortably. I know this because Pancake sleeps with me every night. This time, he kept moving around, laying himself on the nooks and corners of my room, and ending up under my bed.

Day 6 – April 8, 2017 (Saturday)

Whereas he would use to bark and jump on my bed to wake me up every morning at six am, I woke up to him cowering under the bed. By Day 6, Pancake had completely lost his appetite. He had to be force fed, which never happened with Pancake’s historical gluttony! Ate Berna supervised his fluid intake by squirting water in his mouth through a plastic syringe. We brought Pancake to Dr. Arceo for his fourth Canglob D shot, desperately attempting to avoid Pancake’s health deterioration.

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Force feeding Pancake.

Day 7 – April 9, 2017 (Sunday)

Until Pancake’s condition would improve, we went to CAVC daily. On Day 7, I noticed Pancake squinting almost half the time, and recognized sticky, yellowish substance forming in the corner of his eyes. Dr. Arceo commented that it was expected for Pancake to be weak. After all, his body was busy producing antibodies, with the assistance of the Canglob D shots, to combat the distemper virus in his system. Even so, there was no certainty to his eventual recovery.

I became depressed, because more and more of the distemper symptoms were manifesting on Pancake. I was also going to be away for our Holy Week trip abroad from April 9 to April 20, 2017. I entrusted Pancake’s life to Ate Berna, and our drivers, Kuya RC and Kuya Jonrel.

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Pancake getting his 5th Canglob D injection on Day 7. We are so sorry to have to put you through this Pancake.

Day 8 – April 10, 2017 (Monday)
I created a Facebook messenger group consisting of Kuya RC, Kuya Jonrel, Ate Berna, Achi Dianne, and my fiancé, Jacob to keep track of Pancake’s well-being; as well as for Ate Berna to update me should any problems arise. When Pancake had his first weigh-in at MVH in March 2017, he was a hefty 33lbs. Though he had slightly regained some of his energy back by Day 8, he was now only 29.4lbs and evidently thinner.

Day 10 – April 12, 2017 (Wednesday)

Dr. Arceo took note of Pancake’s progress and suggested he got his Canglob D shots on alternating days again. However, after administering Pancake’s 7th shot, Dr. Arceo revealed that he had officially run out of stock and won’t have Canglob D replenishment until the week after. He advised that we either (1) purchase Canglob D shots at another veterinary hospital to bring to CAVC for Dr. Arceo to inject on Pancake, or (2) have the shots done elsewhere.

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Pancake bonds with his friend Meiji. Cats are not affected by canine distemper.

Day 13 – April 14, 2017 (Friday)

Pancake’s 8th Canglob D shot was given by Dr. Harris Constantino at Animal Shelter Veterinary Clinic in Pasig City. Dr. Harris’s clinic did not sell Canglob D shots, so we had to have Pancake’s Canglob D dispensed there. At Animal Shelter, the shots were cost Php 1,750.00 a piece (compared to Dr. Arceo’s Php 850.00)

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Pancake takes two days off from Canglob D shots and enjoys his break by the pool.

Day 14 – April 15, 2017 (Saturday)

Kuya RC motorcycled to Animal Wonder in Caloocan near where he lived in Quezon City. to try to purchase Canglob D shots for Pancake. At Animal Wonder, they sold Canglob D at Php 1,200.00 for every 6ml. Kuya RC bought a few and stored them in the refrigerator for Dr. Arceo to deliver Pancake’s ninth injection by Monday, April 17.

Day 16 – April 17, 2017 (Monday)

Pancake gained 0.2lbs from his weigh-in the week before. He was now 29.65lbs, but had a temperature of 40 degrees in Celsius. In the past few days, his feces had been liquid. So Dr. Arceo prescribed Ensure Liquid Nutrition by Abbott Labs (Php 250.00) in the flavor Delicious Vanilla to harden his poop. There was still some pus discharge in Pancake’s eyes by this time, but they have visibly lessened, and were no longer as bothersome to Pancake.

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By Day 18 (April 19), Pancake was already recovering well.

Day 20 – April 21, 2017 (Thursday)

I was finally back from our Holy Week vacation, and felt elated to be greeted so warmly by Pancake upon coming home. He was still not as energetic as before he got distemper, but was definitely more animated than the last time I saw him.

Pancake had his 10th shot on April 19, and 11th and last Canglob D shot today. Day 20 of Pancake’s fight against distemper was a very memorable one for us, because Dr. Arceo retested him for distemper… and it came out negative! Yes, he officially survived! Dr. Arceo charges Php 850.00 for every distemper test.

Pancake just needed to rest amply and come back for a follow up check up in a week’s time.

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White spots on Pancake’s nose

Day 32 – May 3, 2017 (Wednesday)

Exactly twelve days later, I panicked after seeing white spots develop on Pancake’s nose. I went online and looked up all the canine diseases associated to this symptom. I started freaking out profusely!

Day 33 – May 4, 2017 (Thursday)

We visited Dr. Arceo the next day (May 4, 2017) and learned that all my anxiety was futile (thankfully!). The white patches, though may signify dehydration, was an indication of progressive recuperation from distemper. We returned home happy!

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Pancake is truly distemper free! This photo was taken after his vet visit yesterday, May 29, 2017.

Moving forward

In the weeks after, Pancake has not displayed any signs of distemper and other sickness. In fact, he is stronger than ever!

Pancake has completely gone back to his normal bossy and spoiled self! He approaches me when he wants food, and barks loudly to grab our attention when he wants to play! And as social as Pancake is to humans, he is the exact opposite to his canine peers. Although he welcomes me lovingly whenever I come home, he literally, haughtily scoffs at our other pets. The main point being: Pancake is back! I’ll save my discipline problems with Pancake for another blog post.

Ultimately, if Pancake was able to survive and return to his bubbly, but imperious self, yours can to!

I would like to personally extend my gratitude and appreciation to Compassion Animal Veterinary Clinic’s Dr. David Arceo for his diligent and professional practice; Ate Berna for her selfless care; and Kuya RC and Kuya Jonrel for driving Pancake to and from the vet among other errands.

Surviving distemper successfully indeed is possible, and it happened to Pancake!

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