Vader is a very handsome six-year-old Cocker Spaniel. However, unfortunately for such a young dog, Vader has already had quite a lot of joint problems and has been coming to the AHT for almost two years for hydrotherapy treatment.
We first saw Vader in our purpose-built hydrotherapy pool for bilateral elbow dysplasia in the summer of 2014. The dysplasia in his left elbow was so bad that Vader needed corrective surgery and was referred for hydrotherapy at the AHT to aid his rehabilitation. Carefully controlled and tailored hydrotherapy sessions are really important for rebuilding and maintaining good muscle development to support joints, and can be beneficial for animals with elbow dysplasia that haven’t had surgery as well as those that have.
Vader recovered incredibly well from his operation having built up superb muscle mass and range of motion in his fore limbs that everyone, including his vets, were really pleased with his progress. It was therefore a shock when Vader suddenly went lame on his left hind limb just a few weeks after getting the spring back in his step. After investigation by his vets it was revealed that Vader had a painful hip and needed a left hip replacement, which was carried out last autumn.
After a period of rest and recuperation Vader once again started his rehabilitation with our hydrotherapy team, as well as slowly building up his exercise at home. In order to get Vader back up to full fitness, his tailored rehab plan started with five weeks on the aquatic treadmill to help him improve his limb placement by strengthening and improving muscle tone and range of motion in his left hind leg. Since successfully making good progress Vader is now back to enjoying regular sessions in the hydrotherapy pool to build up his cardiac fitness again.
Silke, Vader’s owner, said: “It’s easy to see that the staff here really care about their patients. Every session, they couldn’t be more friendly and welcoming and they’ve been absolutely fabulous with Vader throughout the ups and downs of his treatment. It’s amazing what a difference hydrotherapy can make and just how important having good muscle development is for helping to take the load of his joints. Vader is a fantastic dog, who loves being the centre of attention so I think he secretly rather enjoys his swims - despite having to wear his funny little cap to help keep the water out of his ears!”
Sam Gould, who has been with Vader every step of the treatment, added: “Vader is making great progress and we’re sure he’ll be back to his normal swim programme in no time! I love this little dog and am a very proud second-Mum! We’ve been seeing quite a lot of each other and I’m really pleased to say we’re now starting to reduce his sessions back down so that we’re just maintaining his muscle and fitness and Vader will soon be out of rehabilitation. It’s been a pleasure to get him back on his feet, twice, and just hope he continues to thrive without any more problems.”
Rob and Sarah rescued Graham when he was only 7 weeks old and he soon settled into their family with 3 new feline friends for company. Graham never strayed too far from his best friend Jiggi when they would go exploring, so when Jiggi returned alone Rob and Sarah grew concerned about Graham’s whereabouts.
Having no luck in finding him themselves, neighbours offered to help to try and find him and even posted an appeal on their local Facebook group to see if anyone had seen Graham. Thankfully the next morning a neighbour called to say he had been found, but was very badly injured. Rushing Graham to their local vet their worst fears were confirmed that he had been hit by a car and had suffered serious head trauma. X-rays displayed multiple fractures and Graham was quickly referred to the AHT for specialist assessment and treatment.
Graham came in to Fui Yap, resident in our small animal surgery team and Daniela Murgia, a European specialist in small animal surgery. “Graham was in a critical state, having several fractures to the head and jaw. He was also having regular seizures” says Fui, “A CT scan revealed more fractures than that shown on the X-rays, as well as a bleed on the brain, which was causing Graham to have these seizures. After consultation with Fabio Stabile, a clinician in our neurology team, he recommended starting anti-seizure medications and close monitoring. His seizures gradually stabilised and resolved on the treatment.”
Graham’s jaw needed to be sutured shut to allow the fractures to heal and was tube fed and cared for by the AHT nursing team for almost two weeks at the clinic. Fui and the team were amazed by his recovery, “He showed encouraging signs of improvement within a few days and the medication we’ll send him home with should prevent any further seizures. He also bonded with the whole nursing team and would often run up to the cage door asking for cuddles and food. Everyone was happy, but sad to see him go on his day of discharge. “
Rob and Sarah are so pleased with his progress, “We are so grateful for all the care given to Graham during his stay. Graham has quickly settled back into life at home and his appetite soon returned once his jaw was unwired!”
Everyone at the AHT is very pleased to hear he has recovered so well and has been reunited with his beloved Jiggi for hopefully many more (safer) adventures. To find out more about the surgical team, the types of cases they see and the injuries they treat, visit http://www.aht.org.uk/cms-display/sa_surgery.html
Meet Buster, an exceptional Labrador who has needed the help of the AHT on two occasions in his nine years, most recently, over Christmas, with Buster being discharged home on Christmas Day!
When Buster was eight years old he was incredibly poorly for about a week, vomiting, diarrhoea and off his food. Various trips to the vets, including hospitalisation for five days, and Buster was taken to the AHT for additional scans and x-rays where a nasty obstruction in his intestine was discovered, possibly due to ingesting a piece of a rubber ball.
This was Buster’s first major operation at the AHT, from which he bounced back very quickly! Buster’s canine companion, Max, was even allowed to visit Buster while he was recovering from his op and the joy on each other’s faces when they saw each other again was a picture to see!
But sadly for Buster’s family, this wasn’t going to be the end of Buster’s health problems.
Just a few months later and Buster began to be more and more unsteady on his feet. Like a lot of Labs, he has arthritis, and has various supplements to treat this. But his mobility continued to deteriorate to the point he was struggling to get up and go out to relieve himself. Upon referral to the AHT an MRI scan was performed which revealed that Buster had a severely slipped intervertebral disc, which was pressing on his spinal cord.
Buster’s owner, James, recalls: “He was in real trouble and for the second time in 12 months and I really thought his days were coming to an end. A large dog who cannot walk has a very limited quality of life and Buster loved getting out and about and never really kept still for very long!
“It was explained to me what the problem was and it wasn't good. An operation was needed to give him a fighting chance of leading a somewhat normal life. If we’d done nothing, he could have been left paralysed. If the operation went wrong, and the spinal cord was too severely attached to the enlarged disc that was causing the problem, he could still have been left paralysed.
"We felt we had to give Buster that fighting chance and once again I was afraid I could be losing my best mate. I was also gutted as it was late December and the minimum he would be in would be five days, so a Christmas without Buster at home broke my heart.”
Buster went in for surgery the Monday before Christmas and the neurologist in charge of the operation, Anita Shea, promised Buster’s family that - as with all her patients - she would look after him like he was her own dog.
Anita said: “Buster is such a sweet boy – despite all the difficulties he was having he constantly wagged his tail and was so eager to be everyone’s friend. It was very obvious why he is such an important and extremely loved member of his family!” Everyone crossed their fingers that he would pull through and for a speedy recovery.
Following intensive surgery for such a badly slipped intervertebral disc it’s normal for patients to take a few days before they can stand up again, let alone try and walk. But apparently Buster didn’t hear that! Against all the odds, just a few hours after surgery Buster tried to get up and out of his kennel when staff went to check on him! The next morning he was up on all four paws and by that evening he was up and walking again. 100% better than he had been just a few days before!
James continued: “The staff were somewhat amazed too, but my boy is a fighter. He continued to improve over the next few days and on Christmas Eve my family and I went to see him again (including our other dog, Max!). We took Buster his daily doggie advent calendar to open and were under the impression we could possibly take him home on Boxing Day. But, on speaking to the staff, we were given the best news that we could pick him up on Christmas Day instead. We were all so delighted, it was truly the best Christmas present ever!
“Buster needed a lot of rest and TLC while he healed and if a black lab is hungry all the time, well, that’s nothing compared to a black lab on prednisone steroids! Nothing was safe! He has continued to do well and we are reducing his meds but he still thinks he is a puppy so he is really hard to calm down at times.
"I just hope that by only having a short walk per day, or a trip out in the car for a change of scenery, he continues to enjoy life with us. It will be some time before we can increase his exercise and he’ll never be able to run as much as used to. I am very grateful to all the incredibly caring staff at the AHT who looked after Buster on his visits there. Without the level of care he was given I fear he would not be here today.”
Anita added: “Buster is an absolute trooper. He obviously knew that there was a pile of Christmas presents waiting for him at home and he wanted to get home to unwrap them! He was such a pleasure to look after – not only is he a very happy and friendly dog, but he’s also a very determined one, and we are so glad that he is back on his feet and enjoying life again.”
If your dog, cat or horse has been treated at the AHT and you'd like us to share their story, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.