Late last week we noticed that blind Avery's belly seemed distended and his breathing had suddenly become labored, so we took him to our clinic in Whitefield on Thursday for an exam. As it turned out, that was the day the clinic's new digital X-ray machine broke down, so we had to take him to a new emergency veterinary clinic in Littleton, New Hampshire, just about 10 miles from Whitefield. There a wonderful vet, Dr. Eva Stobnicki, was able to quickly diagnose the problem: X-rays showed Avery's heart had become very enlarged. (I forgot to take the camera so I didn't get any photos of Dr. Stobnicki with Avery.)
We knew Avery had some mild right-side heart enlargement last year from a previous echocardiogram we did in conjunction with his heartworm treatment, but at the time he was showing no ill effects from it.
She started him on Lasix for the fluid build-up and Enalapril for his heart, and set up a follow-on appointment for Monday with a cardiologist in Concord, Dr. John MacGregor.
So yesterday I drove Avery down to Concord for his appointment. In the photo above is Dr. MacGregor doing an echocardiogram while his vet tech Jen holds Avery. Dr. MacGregor is putting the ultrasound probe through a hole in the table; although we've done dozens of echocardiograms over the years, I'd never seen this technique before. Dr. MacGregor says it provides better access to the heart this way.
The echocardiogram showed that Avery now has pulmonary hypertension, specifically, high blood pressure in his lungs. This is most likely caused by the heartworm infection he had when he first came to us (and for which we treated him last year). Even though the treatment can get rid of the heartworms, longtime untreated cases like Avery had can still cause progressive heart damage.
Here's another view when Dr. MacGregor was determining how much fluid was in his belly:
As a result of the diagnosis, Dr. MacGregor started Avery on two additional heart medications, and he will recheck Avery's progress in two weeks.
At the emergency clinic in Littleton, I had warned the staff that Avery might scream and get a little dramatic being handled for his X-rays. (This is behavior left over from his prior history of abuse.) Sure enough, about one minute after they closed the door to the X-ray room, I heard Avery start screaming. But the next thing I heard was one of the staff yelling, "Quick, get a towel, he's peeing!" Yep, I had forgotten to tell them he might pee if he gets upset ... and he did pee all over the X-ray table. Oops. I yelled through the door, "Sorry, my fault, I forgot to warn you about that, too!"
So at the cardiologist's office, I had prepared them for this particular "expression of discontent." Amazingly, Avery not only let us lay him down on the table and roll him over without any drama, but he never peed either. But you can see from the pee-pad on the table we were ready for it!
Weekly Winner and $1,000 for the Animals!
Yes, the Shelter Challenge people finally posted the weekly winners for Weeks 4 and 5 (at the same time), and we -- or I should say, you -- won $1,000 for the animals here! Thank you so much! We thought we had won it a couple of weeks ago when we got a few emails from people congratulating us for the win, but the Shelter Challenge had not posted any results past Week 3 ... so we were reluctant to say anything. I gather the Animal Rescue Site must send out an email of some sort, but I don't know why they don't update their page at the same time. In any case, the check for $1,000 also just arrived and is now in the bank. Thank you for all your dedicated voting to benefit the animals at Rolling Dog Farm!
The new Shelter Challenge started Monday, January 9 and ends at midnight on March 18. Grand prize in this round is $5,000, plus $1,000 for weekly winners and $1,000 for state winners. There are also other categories ... please see the Shelter Challenge website for details.
*** We are now LISTED UNDER OUR NEW NAME, ROLLING DOG FARM. State is still NH for New Hampshire. ***
Please remember, you can vote every day ... consider bookmarking the voting page to make it easy.
We just won $1,000 as a weekly winner for Week 4 in this current contest, and thousands more in the previous contests. The Shelter Challenge really does bring in a lot of money for the animals here!
You can vote in the Shelter Challenge here.