A pup’s battle for survival began when a routine health check in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), turned into a life-or-death drama after the vet’s examination discovered Snoob, an eight-month-old American Bully, had a strong heart murmur. Further investigations by a veterinary cardiologist in the UAE revealed the dog was suffering from a potentially fatal birth defect called a pulmonic stenosis, which blocks the flow of blood from the heart into the lungs. Despite being thousands of miles from home, Snoob was referred to the award-winning Willows Veterinary Centre, in Solihull, for expert care to undergo lifesaving heart operation to mend his broken heart.
Owner Waddah Moseley, 24, from Abu Dhabi, said: “I’d taken Snoob in from a family who didn’t want him anymore and visited my local vets to update his vaccinations and have a health check. I’d only had him a week and suddenly I was hearing that he had a big heart murmur and, subsequently, that he had a serious heart problem, so it was all quite a shock.
“We’d bonded very well though, so I was ready to do anything to make sure he came through all of this OK, even if it all seemed impossible at the time.
“The cardiologist in Dubai said the pulmonary stenosis was treatable but only in the UK. He recommended Willows, saying they were the best in the world. A week later, we were there ready for Snoob’s treatment to begin.”
Linnaeus-owned Willows is one of Europe’s leading specialist small animal referral centres, delivering the finest pet healthcare for more than 30 years, and world-leading Cardiology Specialists Joao Neves, Fabio Sacrinella and Clinical Director Jon Wray combined to successfully treat Snoob.
Joao explained: “When Snoob arrived at Willows we performed an echocardiogram (heart scan) which confirmed the diagnosis of severe pulmonic stenosis, a serious narrowing of one of the valves that controls blood flow from the right side of the heart into the lungs. This is a congenital disease, meaning that Snoob was born with it, and, unfortunately, there is no cure. However, there are some options to help improve or control the disease.
“Medical treatment with drugs called beta-blockers is usually employed to try to protect the heart muscle and reduce the occurrence of electrical instability – arrhythmias – and, possibly, sudden death. We chose a more definitive treatment to try to reduce the obstruction with a minimally-invasive procedure called balloon valvuloplasty.
“We made a very small skin incision in the neck and used one of Snoob’s neck veins to advance a long catheter, with a deflated balloon on its tip, into the right side of the heart. Once the balloon was at the level of the narrowed pulmonic valve, we inflated the balloon to stretch the valve open to reduce the obstruction and increase blood flow.
“Everything went to plan and the procedure proved a success. The catheter was then removed and the skin incision, which was only a couple of centimetres long, was closed with four stitches.
“The improvement was almost immediate and a post-operative heart scan confirmed a successful outcome, allowing Snoob to be discharged the next day with his recovery at home also very fast, as we expected.”
A delighted Waddah, who is a zoologist, added: “I used to think Snoob was a quiet, calm dog. I have two other dogs and he was always the last off the sofa when it was time to go out – now he’s the first! He’s much stronger, active and energetic, and has developed a real personality of his own since the treatment. We can’t thank Willows enough. We are so grateful. They were excellent.”
Willows offers specialist services in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, clinical nutrition, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery and spinal surgery.
To find out more about Willows’ wide range of specialist services, visit their website or search for Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service on Facebook.