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Thursday, March 11, 2010


I feel its time to post what has happened to Jess..

2 weeks ago Mum rang me to say Jess had gone to the beach the day before, and now wasnt really able to walk. I thought she had overdone it at the beach as she is quite arthritic now (with suspected hip dysplasia ontop of her other issues) and so I told her to give her some previcox (a NSAID). 2 hours later she was a lot better but still breathing quite fast, so I took her into work and did a chest xray. All looked normal so she went back home with Mum.

On Thursday she was lame on the front left leg so I took her back to work and got our orthopaedic surgeon to have a look at her. By that stage she had a very swollen L hock, with pitting oedema. Despite xraying just about every part of her body no-one could find what was wrong with her, so I started her on antibiotics and Mum took her home again.

By Friday she was vomiting profusely so I repeated her bloods (I had done them as a routine screen the week before along with a routine echo and they were fine) and saw she was azotemic (increased kidney enzymes), and anaemic with a very high WBCC (white blood cell count). At that stage I took her to our local emergency center- Perth Veterinary Emergency. They put her on fluids and watched her overnight (as I was working the late shift at work).

On Saturday we did an ultrasound of her abdomen and swollen leg to try and find out what had happened, but found nothing. I then asked the ultrasonographer, who had done a lot oj Jess's previous echos, to have a quick check of her heart to check the coil and her PDA. When she did that she noticed her aortic valves were very inflammed and hyperechoic, and that she seemed to have some aortic regurgitation which she didnt have before. She said I needed to get in contact with her cardiologist, Dr Brad Gavaghan, who put her coil and, and lives in QLD.

I didnt have his details anymore but I went home and googled his name, and rang the 2centers he works at. Since it was afternoon Perth time, it was late over there and the centers had turned into emergency centers, and amazingly they did not have his details. Luckily, some breeder had had her Cavaliers' hearts scaned by Brad, and had put the report online, with his contact details down the bottom of the page, including a mobile phone number! I rang the number, hoping it wasnt an old one, and got his message bank and left a message. Within FIVE minutes Brad had called me back. I told him what was happening with Jess, and he said it sounded like Bacterial Endocarditis, and she needed to go back to the hospital because she was probably in CHF (congestive heart failure).

I rushed her back down and we did another chest xray, and yes, sure enough she was in CHF. They started IV frusemide (a diuretic) and put her on oxgyen and I sat with her until the early hours of the morning, when she stabilised and was able to come off oxgyen.

She was at PVE for the next 3 days, and the staff there were truely wonderful, accommodating a VERY distressed owner and family (my parents were in brisbane for the weekend), moving her to a room because she was getting stressed in the run, putting a mattress down for me to sleep on and generally looking after us really well. On Monday morning (the day of the Western Classic individuals) we were told she might not make the night, so I spent the afternoon crying my eyes out with her, while trying to not show her how upset I was! By Monday afternoon we were told she probably would make it through the night, but I was not going to leave her in case something happened.

Tuesday PVE turned into PVS (perth veterinary specialists) and she was taken over by the medicine vet and in consultation with Brad she came home, with a bucket load of medications to be given 6 times a day. She is home now, but a very different dog to the one we had before. She sleeps most of the time and we have to coax her to eat. She is now starting to be able to hobble out to the toilet.

The part I find hardest to deal with, is this is a SEPARATE heart condition to the one we have fought all her life (her PDA). Basically, she picked up a bacterial infection from somewhere, and it lodged in the aortic valves and coil of her heart. I guess she would be more susceptible to this happening due to the fact she has a 'foreign body' in her heart, but its a different heart disease and it feels just so unfair for one dog to have 2 quite rare heart diseases. I have always covered her carefully with antibiotics if she looked like she may have something that might have caused an infection, but I was unaware of this one.

How she will go is laregly unknown at this point. She is going back to PVS on Tuesday as we may be starting her on another med, if her kidneys and blood pressure looks OK. She still has a chance, so we will keep fighting and hope like anything she can pull through this again.

Thanks to everyone who has enquired about her (most of the Perth Agility world!) and a big HUGE thanks to Dr Gavaghan for giving us his opinion from the other side of Australia.

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