Lenny is a Golden Retriever who we think was born in March 2012. He came into our lives when the RSPCA brought him in as an emergency case in October 2012. His owners had decided to sign him over to the RSPCA because they couldn’t give him the care he required.
When Lenny arrived at the surgery he was unable to walk because all of his joints in his right leg were sore and he was very lethargic. When he was examined by a vet we discovered he had a high temperature, a very fast heart rate and a really bad heart murmur. He received immediate medical treatment, including an ultrasound scan of his heart and x-rays of his leg. Unfortunately for Lenny the diagnosis was Bacterial Endocarditis.
Bacterial endocarditis is caused by a bacterial infection entering the body and infecting the blood stream; the bacteria settles on the heart valves causing permanent damage, and there is a possibility that the bacterial growths can also dislodge and cause an embolism anywhere in the body
Immediate pain relief and antibiotic treatment began for Lenny and over the next few days he began to improve and started walking slowly around the kennels area and the yard. During this period all the staff at Castle Vets became very attached to him and spoilt him rotten. He was a very nervous puppy who needed his confidence building so the nurses gave him plenty of attention and Carina even took him home for a couple of nights to see what he would be like in a home environment with other dogs.
Finding a permanent home for Lenny was always going to be difficult, because his life expectancy was so short (months rather than years) and he would need medical treatment and close monitoring. The thought of him spending his short life in kennels was heart breaking; so it was time to cook the hubby a nice meal with a bottle of wine and ask if I could bring him home for the weekend – It must have been a good meal, because Lenny came home permanently.
He was an immediate hit with the family and my other 2 dogs love him. Eva the lurcher took to him straight away and they now spend all their time playing. It was like having a very new puppy (except for his size), but he was worried about everything. Doors, gates and shopping bags were all out to get him and even going for a short walk was very scary to start with, but the company of confident companions soon made him realize what a great adventure it would be.
Lenny had decided that the car was obviously some sort of torture device and was terrified, so getting in the car for loads of exciting short trips had to be done. I am so glad he got over that fear quickly because 20kilos of dog refusing to climb into a car is a heavy weight and a cause of great hilarity to onlookers.
So far so good……
After 12 weeks of medication, we have been brave and are waiting to see what happens without the antibiotics. His heart still sounds terrible, but he is very active and enjoying life. Our aim is to keep him fit and slim and as happy as possible. I hope we will have this wonderful dog for a lot longer, but we all know to take each day as it comes.
Recognising the symptoms of bacterial endocarditis
Endocarditis is more common in middle-sized to large breed dogs; although it can happen to any animal.. Most of the dogs affected by Endocarditis are male and aged between four and six years.
The clinical signs of bacterial endocarditis can vary because the bacteria can spread an affect other organs in the body, but the more commonly seen ones are
- Weight loss
- Reluctance to move
- Body aches and pains
- Symptoms related to heart problems
- Difficult breathing
- Intermittent lameness
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
Treatments will not reverse any damage that has already been done to the heart, but drugs can be used to help support and improve the function of the heart. Life expectancy is not expected to be long, but there can be exceptions to every rule!
Sue and Lenny
This article was written by Veterinary Nurse Sue Drew as part of our heart to heart campaign.
Sue started work as a student nurse with Castle Vets in 1981 and qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1983. She loves all things animal related and has special interests in behaviour, pet companionship and is one of the nurses that run our puppy preschool. Sue also takes on and cares for poorly hedgehogs.
Sue lives in Reading with her husband, 2 children, a collie cross called Daisy, a lurcher called Eva, and a retriever called Lenny.