THIS week’s diary is about a flat coat retriever, one of my favourite breeds of dog, called Lola, writes Dominic Plumley.
Flat coats are always full of fun and energy and make excellent pets if plenty of exercise is on the agenda.
Lola is getting a little long in the tooth and is now well into double figures in human years, making her a dedicated senior citizen in the doggy equivalent.
Not that you would know, at least not until a few months ago when she developed a nasty cough which seemed to have taken the wind out of her sails.
Her owners, thinking she had just picked up a bug, monitored her for a week or two, but when the cough didn’t improve brought her in to be examined.
At first appearance she seemed pretty normal and looking in good condition. The standard tracheal pinch test did not elicit a cough which tended to suggest that she wasn’t suffering from the usual infectious kennel cough, though her lungs were a little raspy when listening with a stethoscope.
Possibly more of a concern was that a number of Lola’s peripheral lymph nodes were swollen, which can often be the sign of something more sinister going on.
With this in mind we had Lola into our hospital at Morpeth for a thorough investigation.
X-rays of Lola’s chest showed that her heart was in good shape which was good news as cardiac disease can often present itself as a cough and vague lethargy.
The pictures of her lungs showed a generalised fibrosis of her smaller airways.
To get a closer look, we popped a fibre-optic video endoscope down her trachea to look directly into those airways and were glad to see that they were basically fairly clear, again making infection an unlikely diagnosis.
From the information gathered thus far we were fairly sure that the cough was being caused by a chronic bronchitis.
This, unfortunately, did not explain why Lola’s lymph nodes were swollen and a fine needle aspirate was taken and sent to a specialist laboratory for further diagnosis. In the meantime, Lola was discharged on treatment for bronchitis while we awaited the results.
Lola responded fantastically well to her treatment and within a few days was bouncing around like a flat coat a good deal younger than herself. The news from the laboratory was not so good. The sample taken suggested that she was suffering from lymphoma – a type of leukaemia – though biopsy of a full lymph node would be required to confirm this diagnosis.
We duly had Lola back in to remove her pre-scapular lymph node, everyone trying to be optimistic but fearing the worse about a disease that carries a very guarded prognosis.
The processing of larger blocks of tissue can take a week or more and the wait is always horrendous.
Lola came back in a few days after her op for a quick check and was still doing very well, which probably helped us to avoid going through that ‘what if’ scenario if the worst possibilities came true.
The laboratory email results through as soon as they are ready and when the message arrived I had a feeling of dread as I opened it. However, the report was not as we had anticipated. Lola was given the all-clear , the lymph nodes apparently reactive rather than cancerous, giving us little cause for concern.
With huge relief I phoned Lola’s owners straight away and as you can imagine they were delighted with the news.
Now a number of weeks on, Lola continues to do well and long may it last.