Sabby's story

Sabby came to the SATH all the way from the Isle of Man after his primary vets diagnosed him with fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and an irregular heart rhythm.

Sabby was very bright when he came into the SATH, but listening to his heart revealed a very irregular rhythm with weak pulses. His abdomen was very distended and fluid could clearly be felt. He weighed 43.8kg at the time.

To understand his arrhythmia we performed an electrocardiogram (ECG), which showed Sabby had atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is the most common clinically significant abnormal heart rhythm in dogs, and usually occurs in dogs with significant heart disease. An echocardiogram (ultrasound scan of the heart) showed Sabby had severe mitral and tricuspid valve dysplasia, which are congenital abnormalities of two main valves in the heart leading to them leaking and causing a back up of fluid. This was confirmed with chest X-rays which also showed fluid in the lungs (pulmonary oedema) alongside the fluid in his abdomen – both signs of heart failure.

Sabby was hospitalised and treated with furosemide, a diuretic drug that removes fluid from the lungs and abdomen. Within the first 24hrs Sabby’s weight reduced by 4kg, as all the fluid that had accumulated in the abdomen was lost! His waistline was much more flattering afterwards. Sabby was also treated with drugs to improve the pumping ability of the heart, slow the rate of disease progression and slow down the rate of the AF. While in the hospital we used a continuous ECG monitoring system to constantly monitor his heart rhythm and adjust his AF medications as required.

Sabby was discharged after a few days and has been doing fantastically ever since. His owner reports that he is brighter and more active than ever!




Barney’s story

Barney was 8 weeks old when he presented to the SATH as an emergency in October 2017. For approximately one week he had shown laboured breathing and had become more lethargic. His primary vets identified a loud murmur so the vet took x-rays of Barney’s chest which showed a large heart and fluid in his lungs. They were concerned that Barney had developed congestive heart failure.

When Barney came to the SATH his loud heart murmur was very suggestive of a patient ductus arteriosus (PDA). This is an abnormality dogs and cats can be born with, when a foetal blood vessel does not close after birth. Barney had an ultrasound scan of his heart, which confirmed the presence of a PDA and showed Barney’s heart was very large, with poor contractility. As he was so unwell Barney was hospitalised in oxygen overnight and treated with furosemide, a diuretic drug that removes fluid from the lungs. He remained in intensive care over the weekend and improved significantly.

Barney was then stable enough to have anaesthesia to fix the PDA. We have the ability to close the PDA in a minimally invasive procedure using an Amplatz Canine Duct Occluder (ACDO), a device that is fed into the PDA and closes it from the inside.  The ACDO is passed into the PDA via an incision in the femoral artery in the back leg. The incision is very small and means that the majority of patients undergoing this procedure will go home the following day. ACDO implantation can only be performed at referral hospitals as it requires specialist equipment and training.

Barney’s procedure was a success and he went home the next day and his owners are delighted with how well he is. He is now a fully active and bouncy Cocker Spaniel with a great quality of life free of heart failure. It was very rewarding to be able to offer a completely new lease of life to such a lovely puppy!