Patient of the Week 25 November
Meet one of the most famous cats at the small animal clinic! Dandelion has become a staff favourite because he makes it his business to get to know everyone, being such a friendly character. Dandelion has been coming to the clinic for over a year for chemotherapy to treat the cancer he contracted in his alimentary canal. Thankfully our dedicated Oncology team were able to beat this cancer and Dandelion has been given the ‘all clear’ for the past 10 months. Everyone was so pleased to hear Dandelion has made it into remission; they were devastated when owner Jenny brought him suddenly because poor Dandelion had been hit by a car. Jenny heard her beloved cat calling for help from behind the garden shed, where he had dragged himself to off the road. Surgeon Adrien Aertsens and his team were shocked by the extent of his injuries; with multiple fractures across his skull, a broken jaw and badly damaged eye. Dandelion had a CT scan to check for any internal damage and once they confirmed he was well enough for surgery, they went about fixing his jaw. Dandelion is more accustomed to hunting for his own food, but initially had to be tube fed to allow his fractures to heal. Unfortunately the damage to the eye was too significant to be saved and had to be removed.
You might think that Dandelion had been through enough for a little cat and that he might give up; but he’s bounced back to his usual, friendly, outgoing self! Adrien was so impressed by Dandelion, “When he came to us, his whole head was broken into several pieces. We fixed the jaw and after a long recovery he is now eating by himself well and asking to go outside hunting again”. Such a resilient cat, he is recovering well at home and having just the one eye has not dented his confidence at all. “Everyone has been absolutely wonderful” says Jenny,” I have total admiration for the staff who have such skills and expertise, are so great with people and so modest!” We are all so glad to hear Dandelion is back on his paws and he hope he continues to stay happy and healthy in remission. To find out more about the treatment AHT can provide click here
Patient of the Week 18 November
Daisy the Labradoodle was a very poorly girl when she came to us here at the AHT. Typical of her breed, Daisy was a very happy, bouncy dog who loved to play. It was therefore quite clear when she was feeling unwell. Her owner Kim came down one morning to find her looking very sorry for herself; lethargic, with a high temperature and not wanting to eat or go for a walk. Kim was really concerned and took her to her vet for blood tests and scans thinking it may be something she’d eaten or been poisoned by. She was quickly referred to the AHT small animal clinic, where Internal Medicine Clinician James Warland soon saw how sick Daisy had become. James and his team quickly set to work on trying to figure out what was the cause of such a dramatic deterioration. “They did everything for her” says Kim “It was quite a challenge for them, but they did everything they could.”
Daisy’s condition worsened to the point of Kim having to face that she may lose her. Thankfully James and his team were able to diagnose that Daisy had Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection which penetrates the skin into the blood stream and attacks the liver and kidneys. The bacteria is often carried by rodents and is typically contracted from slow running or stagnant water pets may drink or swim in. If not caught early this bacteria can lead to organ failure and prove fatal. Daisy developed very severe symptoms, including jaundice (yellow colour to her eyes and gums) and vomiting blood. Her liver stopped working properly, meaning that her blood stopped clotting correctly so she couldn’t maintain her blood sugar levels. She also had many toxins that the liver would normally filter, running through her blood stream affecting her brain and consciousness.
Daisy was very lucky and Kim was very relieved that each time they came to visit her during her recovery, she looked better and better. “Getting a diagnosis was great after not knowing for so long” says Kim, “To go from being at Death’s door and considering losing her, to having the old Daisy back is amazing! James is our ‘Supervet’ and his team are out of this world and we thank them all hugely.” Daisy has made a full recovery and is now back to her old self, enjoying her food and long walks even more than before.
“It was really wonderful to see that after staying in our hospital for nearly two weeks she was improving and was able to go home, but we knew that she still had a long way to go in terms of her recovery.” Says James, “Happily over the next couple of months all of her blood results have returned to normal, so it doesn’t look like she has lasting liver and kidney damage and these organs have recovered really well. We’re all so pleased that she’s returned to enjoying life so much!”
To find out more about how we can help small animals who need special help visit http://www.aht.org.uk/cms-display/sa.html
Patient of the Week 11 November
Meet Lula and her owner Eleanor. Lula came to us last October after displaying some very out of character behaviour. When competing at dressage in the Spring Lula reared during the test, which she had never done before and this was Eleanor’s first sign that something wasn’t quite right. Through the Summer Lula’s behaviour became more unpredictable at competitions and at home and Eleanor lost her confidence in their partnership. After checking Lula’s teeth, tack and feet to see what was causing these outbursts, she was referred by their vet to the AHT, suspecting that there was an underlying pain-related problem. Joining us at the AHT, Lula was assessed on the lunge and ridden and showed a reluctance to go forwards and a low-grade lameness in both hindlimbs. She was nerve blocked in her hindlimbs to pin point where the pain causing lameness was originating from Our Head of Equine Orthopaedics, Dr Sue Dyson, found blocking just below the back of the hock substantially improved Lula’s gait. Having identified the problem area, further ultrasonographic investigation confirmed there was proximal suspensory desmopathy (damage to the suspensory ligament) in both hindlimbs. This is a very common injury that our clinicians see in performance horses and treat on a regular basis.
Lula was recommended for a neurectomy and fasciotomy, which involves removing a piece of the nerve that innervates the painful ligament; and also cutting through the band of tissue (fascia) which effectively squashes the ligament between the back of the cannon bone and the splint bones. Sue was confident in Lula being a good candidate for the surgery, saying “Approximately 76% of horses with primary proximal suspensory desmopathy are able to return to full athletic function for a minimum of two years”. This would potentially give Eleanor and Lula a much needed positive step toward a better competitive future.
Lula made good post-operative progress and Eleanor had a strict rehabilitation plan to follow at home, giving the two of them time to build their relationship again. A year on, and the pair have gone from strength to strength. Eleanor’s mother Mary is thrilled; “We took her rehabilitation slowly and Eleanor spent nearly six months doing much groundwork; re-building the trust she had lost when Lula had been reacting to her discomfort. Our patience has paid off and Lula and Eleanor are enjoying their ridden work together again. They are now both at Hartpury College where Eleanor is studying Equine Science with a particular interest in Rehabilitation and Therapies and Lula is signed up at the therapies centre as a possible demonstration horse! It has been an invaluable learning experience for Eleanor. She is so pleased to have persevered and to be able to trust and enjoy her horse again. Her plan is to have completed a BE80 by the end of next season – fingers crossed!” AHT wish Lula and Eleanor a continued great recovery and all the best for their future competitions. To find out more about our Equine Clinic click here
Patient of the Week 4 November
Meet Harvey! Harvey is nearly six years old and is a Lab cross rescue dog and has become somewhat of a regular face for our chemotherapy nurses over the last year.
About a year ago Harvey’s family noticed a tiny lump on his stomach. The lump was removed by Harvey’s local vet who sent it off for testing. Two weeks later the results came back and confirmed that the lump was a malignant mast cell tumour. Jacqui, Harvey’s Mum, said: “We were shocked as Harvey is so full of beans and thought it couldn’t be anything serious but best to be safe than sorry. Apparently the tumour isn’t external as most mast cell tumours are but is under Harvey’s skin, which is a little unusual. We were referred to the AHT for further investigation who discovered the cancer had spread to Harvey’s lymph glands, so the best treatment to pursue was chemotherapy – thank goodness Harvey is insured!
“Harvey has had a year of chemo, first weekly, then fortnightly and then monthly. To look at him you wouldn’t know there is anything wrong with him and he’s continued to live life to the full, he especially still enjoys rolling around in the mud during his walks. Throughout the treatment Harvey has shown no side effects – he’s still as lively as ever.
“We’ve had to make a few alterations around the house, such as making sure Harvey and our cat don’t drink out of the same water bowl, being especially careful to clear up all of Harvey’s poo promptly from the garden and he’s not allowed to give us full-on morning kisses due to the toxicity levels in his secretions, but this has all been extremely manageable. The main thing we’ve noticed is that his fur doesn’t grow back quite as fast if he’s been shaved for an ultrasound.
“Harvey is now off chemo and is instead receiving slightly different cytotoxic drugs as the next phase of his treatment. So far there have been no signs of bad cells so we, and the oncology team, are hoping that if he’s still clear after six months on these drugs then he will be in remission. The treatment we’ve received from the AHT has been first-class - always keeping us informed and treating both us and Harvey with greatest care. We can't praise all the staff enough and would like to take this opportunity to say a very big Thank you!”.
Harvey is photographed during one of his last chemotherapy sessions which involves the specific dose of drugs being injected into a vein through a catheter. The dog does not need to be sedated and the whole process is normally over in 10 – 15 minutes, the patient then receives lots of treats, fuss and attention from our staff! Chemotherapy nurses are required to wear protective clothing when handling cytotoxic drugs, as pictured.
Mast cell tumours, like Harvey’s, are just one of the types of cancer we’re actively researching at the AHT. Our cancer research in dogs aims to understand more about which cancers will spread, or respond to treatment, so that vets can make more informed decisions about treatment options and prognosis in the future. We’re also looking more closely at certain cancers which appear to be more common in some breeds than others, to determine if there are any genetic factors involved, and are currently investigating mast cell tumours in several breeds, including Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Shar Peis and Weimaraners. Find out more at: www.aht.org.uk/cancer