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Ria’s Road to Recovery

With proper pain medication and the tick fever treatment, Ria’s personality began to shine. She wagged her tail enthusiastically whenever she saw me, and she was happy for Patches, my cat who passionately loves all dogs, to playfully bat at her and cuddle up next to the playpen.

I still kept her in the playpen most of the time because while my dogs are very friendly, they can be a bit over-enthusiastic. She was active even the playpen, and about a week post-surgery, I noticed she was developing a bulge near her incision. Thanks to Tripawds again, I recognized it was probably a seroma. I contacted my vet and sent them photos, and they said it did look like a seroma, and to just monitor it and put hot compresses on it 2-3 times a day. Within a week, it had gotten back to normal.

After two weeks, she managed to climb out of the playpen herself, so I decided it was fine for her to be out and only go in for feedings and to sleep at night. My dogs got along well with her and were gentle for the most part.

Around this time, I had another surprise guest, a dog who looked like a pet followed me home from a run, went right into the house and made herself at home (turn out to be abandoned and has since been adopted)! I was worried about Ria since this dog was not so friendly with my dogs, but Ria and the walk-in were okay.

At three weeks post-surgery, Ria had another blood test which was normal, and she had her stitches removed! Of course, I’d said I would only foster her for 2-3 weeks, but her rescuers didn’t seem to be too interested in her, and I wanted to be sure she was safe. Keeping her permanently isn’t an option, but at least I wanted her to have her best chance at a good life.

Happy dog in a cone

Ria’s Surgery and Recovery

The rescuers took Ria to the vet and found that her paw was too badly injured to save. Initially, the vet was only going to amputate the front part of the paw, but the bone had become infected, so they had to take the whole front legs. The rescuers raised funds on social media and managed to get enough to cover the surgery. Then they asked if I’d be willing to foster Ria while she recovered.

I was reluctant because 1. my house was already pretty full with my own pets and a few foster pets and 2. I was going on a 2.5-week trip to the US in October. If I didn’t, they were going to send her to a shelter, which of course isn’t a good place for a puppy recovering from a major operation! So I said I could take her in for two or three weeks.

They wanted to bring her to me the very next day after her surgery! Fortunately, the vet recommended waiting one more day, but she was still in bad shape. She looked so depressed, even worse than the night she’d spent here. She didn’t want to move, didn’t want to eat. And then she started crying through the night.

sad dog in a cone

I didn’t have any instructions on what to do or what to expect. She was given two baggies of meds, rather unhelpfully labeled “painkiller” and “antibiotic” to be taken only once a day. It didn’t seem like enough.

So I did some research and found the Tripawds forum, which has been so helpful! After reading some pain management articles, I was even more convinced Ria hadn’t gotten the treatment she needed. I contacted the vet the rescuers had sent her to and asked specifically what the “painkiller” was and also if she’d been given any blood tests before surgery and whether it was safe for me to put flea treatment on her (I’d found a flea and had also learned that another dog recently rescued from the same area by a different rescuer had tick fever).

The vet replied that the “painkiller” was a simple anti-inflammatory! That’s like a doctor saying, “Just had your leg amputated? Take an ibuprofen once a day and you’ll be fine!”

They had removed many ticks from her and put on Advantage, so the flea I found must just not have died yet. However, they had not done any blood tests before surgery because of the rescuers’ “limited budget.”

I got Ria to my own vet as soon as possible and they prescribed her gabapentin and did a full blood test. Sure enough, she tested positive for tick fever, which causes anemia and lethargy. It requires a course of doxycycline for about a month, but symptoms start to resolve quickly.

My vet also advised me about changing and removing the bandage and wound cleaning. The rescuers and their vet didn’t seem to know anything about that either.

That night, Ria didn’t cry since she was on the medication. She started to perk up, get excited about food and hop around a little in her playpen.

Little Ria the Survivor is brought to you by Tripawds.