Posted By: Martin - Vet

Henry the old Black Labrador

The most satisfying part of being a vet is when you manage to make a real difference for the better.  This isn’t only related to the patient we are treating, but also the owners of the pet as well.  This is because, in the vast majority of cases, the pets we treat are very much part of the family, and as such their owners will frequently go to quite extraordinary lengths to ensure their health.

Henry the old Black Labrador is one such dog that is very much part of the family and with his calm, loving and loyal demeanour, it is very obvious why.  At 12 years of age Henry is in good health and enjoys regular exercise to keep him that way.  However, over the past couple of years his health has encountered the occasional stumbling block that has had to be managed. 

For several years Henry has suffered from stiffness when getting up and also after exercise.  So it wasn’t a great surprise to his owners when he was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and they were keen to do whatever reasonable to try and ensure the condition was managed successfully.  In fact much of this didn’t involve medication but focusing on his lifestyle.  His exercise was altered to short regular walks on soft ground to reduce the impact on his joints.  His weight was carefully monitored to ensure he kept as lean as possible, and he was also started on regular hydrotherapy sessions to ensure he maintained good core muscular strength, aiding the support of his inflamed joints.

Henry was regularly monitored and, just under 2 years ago at an assessment for lameness, he was found to have a lump in one of his testicles. Nothing untoward had been noticed by his owners, apart from the current episode of lameness, but this was not something that could be left as the lump was highly likely to be a tumour.  So Henry came to the surgery for castration, removing the affected testicle, while his owners had to wait for the results from the biopsies.  

Those days of waiting for results can be difficult for owners, but for Henry’s owners the news was good. Although there was a tumour in the testicle it had been detected in good time and showed no signs of having spread. Henry recovered from his surgery and was straight back to his regular exercise and hydrotherapy.

Another 12 months passed and Henry’s regime had not changed.  His stiffness could occasionally worsen but in the main was manageable without much medical intervention.  However, he had developed a hacking cough that initially wasn’t too much of a problem, but as the weeks passed it became more frequent and started to become quite draining for Henry.   It would worsen when he attended his hydrotherapy sessions and made these particularly tiring. As such his owners knew that this needed investigating. 

The cough didn’t simply disappear with a short course of anti-inflammatories and so Henry visited the practice for his chest to be x- rayed.   The x -ray showed that he had inflamed and thickened airways, leading to a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis.  Indeed, as soon as Henry was started on a course of steroids the cough improved and he was, once again, back enjoying time in the hydrotherapy pool.

We wanted to avoid Henry being on long term steroid tablets and so we introduced him onto a steroid inhaler – a similar type to those used by human asthmatic patients.  The results for Henry were good and with time his owners have been able to stop his tablets and give him the occasional puff on the inhaler alone.   All of this coupled with his hydrotherapy, exercise regime and  occasional doses of anti-inflammatories for his stiffness means that Henry is still a very happy and healthy dog that is able to play and keep up  with his much younger canine companion!

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