Tino and the Flea Collar
The first 5-6 weeks after we rescued Tino and his brother Bernie were scary. Distemper is a very scary disease and there’s not much you can do to treat it other than try to keep them comfortable, hydrated and safe.
Both Tino and Bernie had fevers that went up and down. They both had eye and nasal discharge. They had great appetites, but they were both very lethargic. After about two weeks of a warm, safe place to sleep and 3-4 square meals a day (they were both about 20-25lbs underweight), they did start to gain some strength, but what the next day would bring was still an unknown.
One day I went out to the backyard to feed them breakfast. Mealtime was a highlight of their day and they would usually come to the door as soon as they saw me. This day, Bernie appeared quickly, but no Tino. I searched around and found him lying in the backyard, not moving. I feared the worst.
I got him up and into their bed, but he wouldn’t eat or drink. I thought that the distemper had won. I sat with him all day trying to hand feed him. I knew that dehydration was one of the worst things to happen, so I also tried to hand feed him water. He didn’t get up all day and barely took anything from me.
It was a Sunday and the vet who had been treating him wasn’t open, and since he didn’t seem to be in distress, we figured we’d wait it out and see how he was the next morning. I woke up early and went downstairs and much to my surprise, there was Tino, right at the door with Bernie to greet me. He ate heartily, drank a big bowl of water and seemed fine. Crisis averted?
I was hoping that the two of them were over the hump, but that wasn’t the case. Their temps spiked again and they spent a few more days quarantined at the vets. Eventually, Bernie suffered seizures and we had to euthanize him, but Tino made a full recovery.
A few days after that terrible Sunday when I thought we had lost him, I realized that Tino’s flea collar was gone. They were both infested with fleas and ticks and even multiple baths didn’t eliminate them completely, so we had collars on them. But Tino’s was gone. I couldn’t figure out how he got it off and looked around the yard. I eventually found it and 3/4 of it was gone. I noticed the ends were chewed and after thinking about it a bit I surmised that Tino must have somehow chewed off the collar and eaten it and that’s likely what made him so sick that day. This was back in 1997 and we didn’t hear (or think) much about the toxicity of dog’s wearing flea collars, much less eating them.
Luckily, things are different today with more awareness on the toxicity of flea and tick treatments. Read about the dangers here, here and here.
We were lucky and Tino’s will to survive won out again.