Tally was never examined or treated at the AHT, but his story demonstrates the support and advice our vets will give referring vets over the phone or via email when they need a second opinion.
Tally is a 10-year-old long-haired moggy. Nearly a year ago he disappeared and his family feared that he had been hit by a car and they would never see him again. Tally had been missing for four days when a neighbour found him in a terrible state. Tally’s owner, Angela, rushed him to the vets but was told that the chances of him surviving the night were low.
The vets confirmed that Tally had actually been badly attacked by another animal, most likely a large, feral Tom cat. He was badly battered and bruised with a black eye, swelling to the right side of his head and multiple infected bites.
After pulling through the first night, an x-ray showed no fractures or internal injuries and Tally was discharged to begin his long recovery battle at home. However, once Tally started to regain his strength his owners noticed his behaviour wasn’t normal as he kept scratching a wound behind his right ear, constantly drawing blood and opening it up.
Angela said: “Nothing seemed to stop him – filing his claws, bandaging his feet, buster collars – there was something not right. In the end we sewed the buster collar into a bonnet for him, so he couldn’t knock it back but could still eat and drink properly.”
After four months of struggling to stop Tally scratching and in fear that he might lose his ear or contract an infection, Tally’s vet Sarah contacted the AHT for advice. At first, Sarah discussed Tally’s case with both our Surgery and Internal Medicine teams, before finally finding a solution thanks to advice from Anita Shea in our Neurology team.
Anita suggested that Tally could be experiencing nerve damage or pain from the initial injury, which could be causing him discomfort similar to pins-and-needles and the scratching was his brain’s way of interpreting the messages. Anita recommended a drug to numb the nerve pain, which thankfully worked and after months of discomfort and stress, Tally finally stopped scratching!
The wound took a long time to heal, and Tally is still receiving medication every other day. However, he is now completely hat-free and living a normal life again. Angela said: “We’re so grateful to Anita at the AHT and everyone at Eastgate Vets in Bury. We really thought we would lose him, but despite needing weekly trips to the vet and us nursing him round the clock, he’s made it. We hope to be able to take him off the meds soon.
"Tally will never be 100% again, he must have a lot of nerve damage as his meow has changed and he doesn’t have full vision in his right eye anymore. But it’s amazing what our pets can overcome with the right medical care, love and support and I’m glad we never gave up hope.”
Duffy is a lovely Bullmastiff who was found wandering the streets a few months ago. Luckily for Duffy she was taken in by PACT Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk. Duffy is an incredibly friendly dog, but her veterinary exam, to check her general health before finding her a new home, highlighted two suspicious lumps - one on her sternum and one on her right back leg. Both lumps were removed by the vet of the PACT sanctuary. The lump on the leg was a benign skin tumour, but the one on the sternum was unfortunately diagnosed as a mast cell tumour.
Mast cell tumours are the most common, yet treatable, form of skin cancer in dogs. Most mast cell tumours can be cured with surgery alone, but about 30% of them have the potential to spread, leading to life threatening problems. Additional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy are recommended after the surgery in those cases.
The analysis of Duffy's mast cell tumour revealed that, unfortunately, it was aggressive. Duffy was referred to our Oncology Department for further assessment and treatment. Julie (right) and Jody (left) have been taking care of her since September 2014.
Luckily, our initial investigations did not show any evidence that the tumour had spread, but in some cases there can be cancerous deposits present that are too small to be seen, so, in order to treat these invisible clumps of cancer cells, we started a course of chemotherapy. Currently Duffy is still receiving treatment and the disease is completely under control. As most dogs undergoing chemotherapy, Duffy did not experience any side effects and her quality of life has been excellent during her treatment.
Jody said: “Duffy is a beautiful dog – I’d adopt her if I could! Looking at her you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with her. Her cancer can't be cured, but her chemotherapy is designed to buy good quality time without causing any additional problems. It would be great if she could find a loving family to spend the rest of her life with.”
If you think you might be able to give Duffy a home, in a household without small children or other dogs, please contact PACT Animal Sanctuary on 01362 820775.
Teddy came to the AHT a year ago for an emergency operation on his right eye, when he was just five months old. Sadly, Teddy was injured by another family cat whose claw hooked in his eye, causing substantial damage.
The lens was beyond repair and had to be removed. Teddy also needed a conjunctival graft, a bit like a skin graft, to close the hole in the cornea of his eye. But thanks to the expertise of our ophthalmology team, Teddy’s right eye was saved.
Victoria, Teddy’s owner, said: “A year ago my cat Teddy came to you for an eye operation. I just wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done for us, and to show you how well he has come along since the operation!
"His eye now looks amazing – the limited sight in his right eye certainly hasn't affected his catching skills, or balance. He probably would have lost his eye if it wasn't for the AHT! So thank you all very much. He is also finally fully grown!”
Minnie is a lovely Chihuahua who was referred to the AHT in 2009 as a very young dog, barely two years old, extremely ill - weak in all her legs and unable to stand. She was assessed by one of our neurologists, Anita Shea, who suspected there was a problem in Minnie’s brain and neck. An MRI scan and spinal tap identified that Minnie was suffering from a disease called Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis (GME).
GME is an inflammatory disease that is suspected to result from the immune system attacking the central nervous system. In the past the prognosis for this condition was extremely poor with affected dogs only surviving days or weeks. Fortunately, there are now stronger medications available and affected dogs can go on to live a normal life for years after diagnosis – with Minnie walking proof of this!
Tracy, Minnie’s owner, said: “We really didn’t think she would make it when we had to leave her at the AHT for her tests and were told that her life span would be short due to her illness. But Minnie is now six years old and still doing extremely well, all thanks to Anita and the AHT! Thank you all very much, this is Minnie now.”
Minnie was on chemotherapy for a year after diagnosis and has been on life-long medication ever since to treat the disease. Minnie also needs a blood test every three months to monitor her condition, but, she is doing incredibly well. Anita Shea commented: “Minnie is a very sweet girl with a loving family dedicated to making her happy, and we hope that we will receive many more Christmas cards from her!”