Fatal dog illness remains a mystery

By Kaysha Brownlie

1 comment
Napier's Robyn Graham pictured with her new puppy George. Photo / Kaysha Brownlie
Napier's Robyn Graham pictured with her new puppy George. Photo / Kaysha Brownlie

Nearly three months after the unexplained death of her dog Polly, Robyn Graham is still waiting for answers and doing everything possible to ensure her new puppy doesn't meet the same fate.

The Napier woman was moved to tears when she recalled the 2-year-old bichon frise/shih tzu cross, Polly, who had filled a gap in her life.

Polly was one of four Hawke's Bay dogs that fell ill presenting similar symptoms - vomiting and bloody diarrhoea - in March.

Her new dog, George, was the runt of a nine-puppy litter.

Sitting with the 8-week-old, 870g bichon shih tzu-lhasa apso on her knee, Ms Graham said several people had asked what results she had received about her previous dog's death.

"I haven't got a specific answer that it was that plant and that it was that dog food or whatever, and that really hurts."

"I can't close that chapter in my life, because I don't know what happened."

She had scrubbed inside and outside, weeded the entire garden and done everything she could to ensure her new puppy did not fall ill.

Alarm bells rang out when her previous dog, Polly, appeared depressed, and then deteriorated rapidly, staring into space, vomiting, foaming at the mouth and suffering bloody diarrhoea.

"She was basically bleeding blood from her behind like a tap."

VetEnt Havelock North vet Doctor Alanda Rafferty, who treated Polly, told Hawke's Bay Today she occasionally treated dogs with similar symptoms but that week in March was unusual with four cases in just three days that involved vomiting and explosive, bloody diarrhoea. There had been no commonality with any case, except they all lived in Hawke's Bay.

Dr Rafferty said she had not since had any new cases, but had heard of a few similar deaths at other clinics.

Further diagnostics were carried out in the United States but they also came back negative.

"So far we have ruled out a lot of causes."

The vet referred the matter to Ministry for Primary Industries which conducted tests but could not confirm a cause.

Another Napier couple are also waiting for answers after their dog, Goldie, died a similar death in April.

The 12-year-old Shiba Inu died on her birthday.

On Friday, a ministry spokeswoman said there had been no updates as to what caused the dogs to die.

She said a survey had been sent out to veterinary clinics and would have a summary of the results soon.

Dr Rafferty said she would continue monitoring the situation.

Ms Graham said: "It's sad we don't know, I don't think we ever will. Good thing is, we've always got the memories."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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