Alnorthumbria Vets: Treatment for Jack, our VIP (Very Important Pooch)

Jack – our lovely stock manager Kath’s dog – came in for further investigations of a cough.
Jack is being treated for chronic bronchitis.Jack is being treated for chronic bronchitis.
Jack is being treated for chronic bronchitis.

His symptoms started around about a year ago, and have progressed since to a point where he has been coughing daily which is making him retch.

Kath had helpfully taken lots of videos of the event so that our vets could look at them and try to work out what he was doing.

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Interestingly, a cough, a retch, vomiting and regurgitation can all look very similar.

Each one of these symptoms needs different approaches to investigations and so a video can make sure we can tailor our plan to try to find the issue as quickly as possible.

After confirming Jack was coughing, our vets started with a blood test to check for underlying causes, and signs of inflammation / infection. This test came back as normal, and while this ruled out a lot, it didn’t give us our answer.

So Jack then had a general anaesthetic for inflated chest x-rays, a bronchoscopy and a bronchoalveolar lavage….. but what does that even mean?!

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We tend to have to do x-rays of the lungs under a general anaesthetic, as this means we can ensure that the lungs are fully inflated. If they are under or over inflated then you can miss something on an x-ray because the contrast isn’t good enough and the x-ray looks either too white or too black - it’s a bit like underdone or burnt toast!

And unfortunately we can’t ask our patients to hold their breath while we take an x-ray.

The x-rays in Jack showed us that his bronchial walls were thickened. This can be caused by inflammation or infection (parasitic, viral, bacterial or fungal).

A bronchoscopy is where we pass a really small camera down the trachea and into the bronchi. This lets us visualise the inside of the airways, and in Jack’s case let us identify inflammation within his smaller airways.

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Next we performed a bronchoalveolar lavage. This is where we use a catheter to flush saline down into the lungs and then suck it back into a collection pot.

We can then send this off to a laboratory where they can look at the cells harvested from the wash and perform a culture on this fluid to check for any infections.

Jack also had a blood test sent to the laboratory to test for lungworm.

Jack recovered uneventfully from his anaesthetic and various tests, and is back at home being spoilt by Kath.

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We are still waiting for the last of the results to come through, but the most likely cause of Jack’s cough is chronic bronchitis. He is being started on treatment, and we will keep you up to date with his progress!