Our Hero of the month for April is Dave the Doberman. A regular visitor to us here at Park Issa he is always a joy to see when he comes in to be weighed. In July 2017 Dave came in to the practice suffering from a nose bleed and this was the start of a long fight to get better.

Dave’s owner described him as a young dog as “a bit of a handful – boisterous, playful, happy and also very naughty. He has grown into a handsome, healthy dog, admired and loved by everyone who meets him.” It was in July 2017 that Dave came in to the surgery with his owner stating “quite out of the blue he developed a nose bleed. Having no previous experience of nose bleeds in dogs I asked the vet to check him over.”

After being examined by Kim the Vet, Dave was kept in for blood tests and treatment to try and find the cause of the nose bleed. These tests showed that Dave was struggling to clot his blood as his platelet count was dangerously low. It was suspected that he had thrombocytopaenia. Kim referred Dave to the Small Animal Teaching Hospital at Liverpool University as a same day emergency and they conducted more tests that confirmed that Dave was suffering from Immune Mediated Thrombocytopaenia. This is where Dave’s immune system attacks the clotting factors in his blood.

The Small Animal Teaching Hospital started treatment with steroids. Blood analysis showed that in Dave’s case this was not working so different medications were needed to try to treat Dave, he was running out of options and went through a lot of different medications before the right ones were found. While Dave was receiving the treatment he lost weight and developed a stomach ulcer. Because of this he required a blood transfusion. Unfortunately Dave became very ill as a result of rejecting the blood and needed antihistamines. His owner describes it as “Dave was one of a small percentage of dogs who would reject the blood and as a consequence would become very ill. By way of a miracle he responded to treatment and was stable but poorly”. Dave was able to go home eventually after 18 more days at Leahurst.

Dave started to improve and continued to have check-ups, unfortunately in August 2017 Dave was brought in to us here at Park Issa with vomiting and lethargy, he went back to Liverpool University and had to be readmitted on several occasions due to varying illness including a urine infection and a sore patch on his toe.

The toe turned into another trial for Dave as explained by his owner. “As Dave was completely immune suppressed he was very susceptible to infection. A swollen toe developed overnight, which turned out to be a fungal infection in the joint. A small patch of wet eczema on his back developed into a huge area within 2 days (see picture). Tests at Leahurst showed that the fungal infection had spread to his bloodstream and he was diagnosed with Systemic Aspergillosis in addition to the Immune Mediated Thrombocytopaenia. The prognosis for dogs with both conditions is very poor. We were warned that if it spread to his brain or lungs nothing could be done. It was a devastating blow.” It was at this time that Dave was also diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Amazingly since December Dave has steadily improved and has gradually been taken off all but one of the many medications that he was been prescribed and after a blood sample (sent all the way to Germany) he has been declared in remission with his good health.

“He is not as lively and playful as he used to be, and sleeps quite a lot. He does enjoy going for his walks and loves to chase rabbits in the field. To see him running at full speed is a joyful sight, but we are careful that he doesn’t over exert himself. We never imagined or dared to think about the future as he has had far too many setbacks, however, we are now allowing ourselves to be cautiously optimistic and hope that will be making the permanent move to Malta with us by the end of this year.

We are eternally grateful for the excellent care Dave has had, and continues to receive from the vets and staff at Park Issa and Leahurst Small Animal Teaching Hospital. Without their quick thinking and immediate treatment we wouldn’t have our lovely Dave. To us he is quite simply ‘Our Hero’.”

We all think Dave has been through so much and he is so brave definitely a worthy ‘Hero of the Month’.