Mum with cancer in fresh agony after pup bought to lift spirits gets parvovirus

A grief-stricken family coping with a devastating cancer diagnosis were dealt further heartache when they realised they had been duped by a puppy farm scam – with their new pooch almost dying.

Hospital worker Stephanie Wilkins, 34, and husband David bought an adorable Spaniel for £1,400 from Wales after seeing an online advert. They carried out checks as well as visiting the pup at home.

The couple hoped that pooch Cooper would help lift the spirits of their children Scarlett, James and Sebastian after Stephanie was told her breast cancer was incurable, reports TeamDogs.

But instead, Cooper almost died from parvovirus, a highly contagious and deadly disease that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system.

And a subsequent visit by the RSPCA found the supposed home address of the breeder had merely been rented to dupe buyers. The family were also later told they had been given fake vaccination records.

Stephanie said: “I’ve been dealing with breast cancer for the past five years.

“It has come back, and I’ve now been told it’s incurable, so we’ve had a lot to deal with as a family. We wanted to have something positive to focus on for the children and Cooper is our first family pet."

Speaking about the moment they knew something was wrong with the pooch, Stephanie continued: “Cooper became really quiet and wouldn’t eat and when he started having bad diarrhoea, we knew we had to get him help."

They took Cooper to Bath Vet Group, part of My Family Vets, where he was diagnosed with parvovirus.

Parvovirus can spread through dog-to-dog contact, infected faeces or be picked up from surfaces such as bowls or leads. It can be passed from human hands and clothing and even spread by cats.

Early, aggressive treatment can include intravenous drips to treat shock and combat dehydration, anti-nausea medication and highly specialised viral medication.

The treatment is intensive and there was only a slim chance of him pulling through, but thankfully, Cooper made it.

“When I went in to see him, he looked awful, as if he just wanted to die and I didn’t want him to suffer,” Stephanie said.

“But every time he got really bad and it looked as if every hour might be his last, he would stabilise again. He’s a real little fighter and I know everyone at Bath Vets took a shine to him and were willing him on.”

According to My Family Pets, this potentially fatal disease is on the rise due to surge in purchases of puppies during lockdown along with the struggle to keep up with vaccinations during that period.

Emergency service Vets Now recorded an 82% rise in suspected cases in the first five months of 2021, compared with the same period last year.

Puppies and older dogs are especially vulnerable to this disease, with symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and lethargy.

Stephanie is urging owners to make sure their pet is vaccinated and to seek help straight away if they see their puppy becoming unwell.

Vet Giulia Grenga, from Bath Vet Group, said: “Cooper is really lucky to have recovered from parvo, which can often be fatal.

“Sadly, over lockdown, there has been a surge in parvo cases in the UK despite there being an effective vaccine available.

"We urge everyone to beware of unscrupulous breeders taking advantage of increased demand for pups. And to ensure your dogs, whatever age, are up to date with their annual vaccinations.”

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While puppies and older dogs are most vulnerable to the disease, healthy dogs are also at risk. Early treatment will improve your dog’s chances of survival, so take them to the vet without delay.

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