Our first Pet of the Month 2019 – Chase the Labrador-cross pup!
Chase, an adorable nine month old Labrador-cross, came to us early in January having suddenly become lame on his back leg. While there were no obvious injuries on the first visit, an infection in the outer toe became evident over the next few days and so antibiotics and painkillers were prescribed. And that should have been the end of the story.
However, ten days later Chase’s owners noticed that he was very out-of-sorts. He had not been eating well and he appeared to be “glazed”. Concerned, they rang the out-of-hours service and brought him straight in for examination. Sarah – the vet in this case – found that he had a sore throat and had a lot of saliva at the back of the throat. More worryingly, Chase appeared to have an unusual and very shocked and surprised expression which raised alarm bells in Vet Sarah’s mind – eighteen years previously she had seen a similar look in a dog with tetanus.
Chase was admitted for tests and, indeed, tetanus was confirmed! This is a rare condition in dogs (dogs are much more resistant than humans) caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani, and usually develops some days after an injury elsewhere which allows the infection in. The toxins released by the bacteria cause muscle spasms, typically giving the “surprised” expression as the upper eyelids are drawn upwards and the brow becomes furrowed. Dogs struggle to swallow food and severe cases cause complete paralysis which can be fatal.
The infected toe was the most likely source of the problem and Chase underwent surgery to flush the toe out and rid the area of as much toxin as possible. A 3-week course of high-dose antibiotics was started and we hospitalised Chase for days to monitor how the disease progressed: he might have required drugs to stop the muscle spasms, he may have needed a feeding-tube if he could not eat, and if things became too bad he may have needed to be referred to a specialist for intensive care.
As he was unable to swallow properly poor Chase was put on a drip to keep him hydrated and we had to hand-feed him: thankfully, a feeding tube was never needed. He did require anti-spasmodic drugs to prevent the tetanus from getting worse, but thankfully the disease did not progress further, and after several days’ close monitoring and treatment Chase was discharged home to be managed as an outpatient.
We checked Chase regularly, and each time he became less “surprised”. Happily, three weeks after diagnosis, we were able to sign him off and he left the building with a very waggy tail!
Chase’s adoring owner explained how worried he had been “I never thought my parents would agree in getting another dog after our previous one. But I was so glad they did as when I met him for the first time I instantly fell in love with him. His markings were one of the reasons we picked him but also he was the only puppy in the litter that came directly to us. We knew he was the one. I was a bit unsure how he would be when he eventually came home with us, was he going to settle. Thankfully he did!
I loved seeing him every morning – those beautiful brown eyes staring back at me made me smile. I loved being with him he is such a clever and playful dog. After a few months had passed he was about 8 or 9 months old when something happened. I was taking him for a walk and something just didn’t feel right. I felt it in my gut. I called him and normally he would give me eye contact but he looked directly passed me, and ran the opposite way almost as if he was blind. I started to worry a lot. I’ve never had a dog from a puppy. I took him home and told my parents that something was not right with him. He had a film over his eyes and he just didn’t look happy. We took him to the vets where they examined him and they told us it could be a dangerous rare illness/disease called Tetanus, an illness that stiffens the muscles.
I was absolutely heartbroken. Once I was told there was a potential risk that he might die. I didn’t know what to do with myself. He wasn’t allowed to come home for a few days as the vets wanted to keep a close eye on him. I remember visiting him and he came out all happy and full of energy. He had this constant grin on his face. His ears were stiff and he just didn’t look right. I knew he was in there but he wasn’t what I was looking at. As soon as he came through the doors I started crying. I sat down on the floor and hugged him. I didn’t want to let him go. But I knew that the vets were taking good care of him.
It broke my heart when I saw him on a drip, he had a cone on his head, a needle in one of his paws. I told him to fight for his life. He had a lot of support from his dog pals that he’s met. One dog called Luna loves him more than the others. Luna is a collie and they get on so well. I didn’t want the end to be me saying goodbye because he was too young, he hadn’t experienced a lot. I wanted to teach him more and to enjoy his existence a lot longer. Once I came home and started crying when I looked at his toys and his bed. He might not be ever coming home. Thinking about that. Just hurt like that. First losing my Nan and now possibly my young puppy. It was too much to handle.
A few weeks later, Chase got better, his appearance didn’t change much but he was eating and drinking and we were allowed to take him home, I was so happy. The vets did such a brilliant job looking after him – thankyou to everyone for what you did for my buddy. Chase is now flourishing and learning and growing. He’s almost a year old and that might of not been the case a few weeks ago. My boy is alive and I’m looking forward to the future with him.
He is my world. I would be lost without him. He needs me but I need him.”
Congratulations Chase for being voted our first Pet of the month for 2019 lovey boy! We are all so glad you are better!