VET’S DIARY: Dog donors save the day for Maggie the spaniel

The team with Hudson the Newfoundland,
The team with Hudson the Newfoundland,

This time of year makes us reflect upon the animals we have treated over the past 12 months.

There are several who stand out, but there is one whose story I would like to tell.

Maggie the Spaniel

Maggie the Spaniel

It’s a Hollywood-style ‘against all odds’ tale featuring three heroic dogs and a great veterinary team, that all rallied round to make sure one very brave little spaniel made it to Christmas.

Two months ago, as I was finishing emergency surgery, there was a knock on the practice door, and for the first time I came face to face with the beautiful cocker spaniel Maggie.

She had become increasingly withdrawn and with her unusually dark brown urine, her owners were worried she had a severe urinary tract infection.

After a thorough examination, however, it became clear she was suffering from a life -threatening condition called immune mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA), which results in the body’s immune system attacking and destroying its own red blood cells.

Maggie’s red blood cell count was so low we not only had to stop the immune system’s attack, but we also needed to give a life-saving blood transfusion.

With little time to act, I raced home and collected my seven-yearyear old Labrador Odin to act as a blood donor.

Within one hour of being given the transfusion and her medication, Maggie’s cheeky, affectionate character started to shine through and she became increasingly lively as our nurses sat up with her throughout the night.

Although not out the woods, she went from strength to strength over the next 36 hours.

Unfortunately, although looking brighter, Maggie suddenly took a turn for the worse as her blood count again dipped to a dangerous level.

This time it was another vet’s dog, the large affable Newfoundland Hudson, who came to the rescue and Maggie found herself having a second transfusion.

With this second transfusion, Maggie’s system began to fight back and her blood count continued to increase.

As each day in the hospital passed, we became increasingly attached to her so were, in equal measures, sad and delighted when, after eight days, she was strong enough to go home on medication.

We all look forward to her monthly visits to check her blood count and are happy to say she is back with her loving family.

Blood donors are a vital part of the Alnorthumbria veterinary team and our staff have several dogs that we use.

However, we are always looking for more donors so if you would like your dog to be considered, please give us a call.

They must be healthy, between two and eight years old, and more than 20kg. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ring 01665 510999 or visit

If you missed last week’s Vet’s Diary, click here.