Patient of the Week 29 July
Star has been receiving treatment for lymphoma at the AHT since 2014. Here is his story, told by his owners, Andrew and Wendy:
Aptly named, Star is a star in everything he does and has done, both before and since his diagnosis. He accepts everything with equanimity. He shines at agility, was a quick learner in obedience work and loves everyone. A strong dog, harnessed he was capable of pulling a two wheeled scooter along!
Star came to us in 2005 as a puppy, not unlike a pink piglet, blotched with brown patches, before he blossomed into a red merle with arguably one of the nicest temperaments endowed in a Border Collie. If you’ve ever seen the Lowestoft Dog Agility Display Team in and around Suffolk, then you may have seen Star in action, where he lives up to his name still, to this day, thanks to the good work of the AHT vets.
In 2014, Star seemed depressed, any noise seemed to scare him and he was lethargic. Our local vet thought it was a thyroid problem and started him on medication for that. Two weeks later he was no better. Star was straight back to the vet who discovered several lumps on him including on his neck and back legs.
A biopsy was taken of the lump on his back leg culminating in an utterly soul destroying phone call dropping the bombshell that Star had a lymphoma. The Big C. He was eight years old! We loved him with all our hearts and would do anything to extend his life with us. We were beyond grief feeling so helpless, not knowing what to do.
Our local vet referred him to the Animal Health Trust for a course of chemotherapy, where they have been monitoring him for the last 14 months of treatment. Although many miles away from home it’s worth taking Star to the AHT for the very best treatment and care.
Unfortunately, Star relapsed earlier this year but the AHT agreed to consider Star for further treatment. He continues his visits where he enjoys taking chicken treats from his favourite, specialist vet, Silja, who even took time out to watch him at one of his displays which ended with Star jumping through hoops of fire!
He continues to be well, enjoys his life, sleeps a lot, raids bins at home for scraps... all thanks to the wonderful vet specialists at the Animal Health Trust to whom we owe so much and who have been a vital cog in his life.
Thank you Animal Health Trust, Andrew and Wendy Brown
Wendy has been so impressed by Star’s treatment that she completed a Christmas Day Swim, Christmas 2014, to raise money for the AHT’s cancer research.
Wendy and a friend completed the dip in the icy waters of the North Sea, on Lowestoft beach, and raised an incredible £600! Thank you Wendy, we’re glad Star is doing well, he is definitely one of our star patients!
Silja, the vet in charge of Star’s case (pictured with Star, above right), added: “Treating Star has been a real pleasure, he is such a patient and gentle dog, and after more than a year of chemotherapy he is still greeting me with a happy tail wag at every visit at the AHT. He has been doing so well and I'm more than pleased with his response to his treatment.
“He just finished a second course of chemotherapy and he is currently free of cancer. We are planning to keep him on a lower, maintenance dose of chemotherapy to try to stabilise his second remission.
"I recently had the chance to see Star perform at one of his agility displays which was absolutely amazing - there are probably not many dogs jumping through burning hoops less than 24 hours after their last chemotherapy - I was so proud of him!”
Patient of the Week 15 July
This week's Patient of the Week is Pepper, a very sweet Chihuahua. This time last week Pepper's owners were trying everything they could to get her to eat and drink, but their efforts didn't seem to make any difference. Something was seriously wrong.
Pepper was taken to her local vets but her initial investigations were all normal. Heat related lethargy was suspected but Pepper continued to deteriorate, even as the weather cooled down. Then, a few days later, at 5am on the Sunday morning, Sally, Pepper’s mum, found Pepper hiding under her bed, stone cold and not moving. Sally feared the worst. She picked her up and all Pepper could do was blink at her. Sally rushed Pepper to the AHT as an emergency referral from her vets.
"Thank God it was AHT who took her" Sally said. "From the minute I rushed through the doors early Sunday morning, with Pepper having seizures on a pillow, I felt she was in the right hands. Everyone I encountered was kind, helpful and really cared!
"After many investigations, Fabio and his team diagnosed Pepper with a heart murmur and Addison's disease, a life-long chronic illness. But the AHT saved her life and I couldn't be more thankful! I was called every single day and told every little detail. Even to the point of discharge they ensured we returned home with a AHT doggie bag filled with leaflets, instructions and clearly mapped out medication.
"I will always return to AHT in the future! Thank you again everyone for letting us bring our girl home!"
Addison's disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, is an uncommon endocrine disease where the adrenal glands do not function properly. It is usually seen in middle-aged female dogs, and some breeds such as Standard Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs are predisposed to Addison's disease.
In normal dogs, the adrenal glands produce mineralcorticoids, which are responsible for the electrolyte and water balance in the body; and glucocorticoids, which are also called the "stress" hormones and help the animal cope with stress situations. Clinical signs associated with a lack of these hormones are usually vague and can be varied, including lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration or collapse.
The disease can mimic other conditions such as gastrointestinal, renal or neurologic diseases so it can be very hard to diagnose and therefore the clinical signs can become very severe before the correct diagnosis is found. Although currently there is no cure, the prognosis is excellent as Addison's disease can be effectively treated with life-long hormone supplements.
Patient of the Week 08 July
This week’s Patient of the Week is 16-year-old Katie! Katie has had a few health conditions throughout her life, including a serious corneal injury when she was just three and then developing hyperthyroidism at the age of 11. It was therefore devastating news for her owner, Debbie, when Katie developed worrying lesions on her ears and nose at the grand old age of 16.
Debbie said: “As Katie is predominantly white, we were always aware that she had an increased risk of developing cancer, and so over the years applied sunscreen to the vulnerable areas. So it was a bit of a blow when earlier this year our suspicions were confirmed that she had developed pre-cancerous lesions on her ears and nose.
“Initially the options seemed only to be either to wait and see how things developed or to go down the route of surgery - to remove her ears in their entirety and sufficient tissue from her nose. We felt caught between a rock and a hard place: Katie is an elderly cat, but in such fine health otherwise that just leaving the condition to develop into full blown squamous cell carcinoma did not feel right. Nor did putting her through the trauma of surgery.”
Determined to find another way, Debbie’s vet researched Strontium Therapy and referred Katie to see an oncologist at the AHT. The AHT is one of the only referral centres in the UK offering this type of treatment. Stronitum-90 Plesiotherapy treatment involves using a radioactive source at the end of a rod to deliver carefully targeted doses of low energy radiation to treat superficial tumours on the ears, nose and eyelids.
The radiation is delivered very quickly so patients don’t need to be under anaesthetic for very long and the radiation only penetrates a few millimetres so it is very effective at treating tumours in areas such as the nose, which are otherwise very difficult to treat. (Above, Katie pictured after treatment and below, example of her nose and ears before treatment.)
There are minimal side effects with this type of treatment. Most patients develop ulcerations which scab and heal over a few weeks, leaving pink hairless skin. The hair then usually regrows over time and the cat looks as good as new!
Debbie continued: “Katie was thoroughly assessed for her suitability for the treatment based on our vet’s reports and photographs of the lesions. Then when we took her for the treatment she was given a very thorough examination to make sure all was well, particularly with her heart in light of her hyperthyroidism, and her anxious 'mum and dad' were given much needed reassurance!
“The vet looking after Katie, Adriana, explained everything in a lot of detail, including what to expect in the coming weeks, and a few hours later we were on our way home! Now, seven weeks on, her nose and ears are clean and free from any scabs and she doesn’t need any further treatment!
“She has lost the hair where the treatment was carried out, which is very noticeable on her nose and upper lip, and shows no signs of growing back, but it looks rather endearing, we think.
"Most importantly she has bounced back and is once again in top form. We are extremely grateful to our vet, Jayne, and the Animal Health Trust for their genuinely caring and effective treatment.”
This week’s Patient of the Week is Frank, a very large and lovely English x Neopolitan Mastiff with recurrent ‘cherry eye’. Despite his enormous size, Frank was only eight months old when he was treated by our vets and still has some growing to do!
Here Frank is pictured left, with our Head of Ophthalmology, Claudia Hartley, and right, with Roser Tetas, the vet in charge of Frank’s case.
Frank came to us from Wood Green Animal Shelters, as, unfortunately, Frank’s first family moved abroad and could not find him a suitable home in time. Whilst under the care of Wood Green Frank had a full veterinary exam and was referred to the AHT Ophthalmology Department for suspected cherry eye.
Cherry eye is a disorder of the third eyelid gland and is often seen in young dogs of large breeds. The gland prolapses and protrudes from the eye and is given the name due to its red appearance. Cherry eye can be quite uncomfortable and if not treated correctly can lead to nasty eye infections, and dry eye.
Frank needed delicate surgery to replace the gland by anchoring it back in place. It is not recommended to remove the gland as this can have a very negative effect on tear production. Frank recovered well from the surgery and was able to go home with his new family in Ely to start a new life, free from any pain associated with his eye.
Ricky Sawyer, Frank’s new owner, said: “Frank is just an incredible dog - a bit cheeky at times and endless energy, but we wouldn’t be without him now.
"Wood Green and the AHT were both fantastic in getting Frank the care and treatment that he needed and I’ve been really impressed by everyone involved in helping him, both with the transition into our home and the treatment he needed at the AHT.
"He’s completely recovered now and is a big part of our family. We love him to bits!”