Pet Hero: Belle

Pet Hero: Belle
11 September 2019
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This month’s pet hero is Belle!

Belle (affectionately nicknamed ‘Belly’) is a larger than life 5-year-old black & white border collie with buckets of personality. She unexpectedly first met her owners in a very English fashion (over a civilised cuppa!) as she was one of a litter born to a family friend’s dog. With very little persuasion and a lot of cuddles, puppy Belle found herself happily settled in with her new loving family in exchange for a Freeview box! Nobody could have predicted just how much this unconventional trade would end up changing the Saunders’ lives forever with the addition of their beloved new, effervescent yet podgy ball of fluff!

Once home, Belle quickly asserted herself into family life, trundling happily around the family home, constantly falling over her own head and doing unintentional handstands and forward flips in exuberance when excited as her little body struggled to catch up with the size her head. She quickly decided that soft toys with squeakers were her most favourite things, carrying them everywhere with her, until she was big enough to go out on walks - then her preferred toys became rivalled by enormous branches and logs which she determined to drag along with her all the way home! Some of Belle’s other favoured pastimes include having a good roll around and scratch on carpeted flooring and fresh grass, swimming, emptying flowerbeds and getting her head stuck in things; her favourite game is wiggling her bottom around in front of her owners trying to encourage a bottom pat which just sends her daft with excitement leading to thrilled celebratory zoomies when received!

Sadly, all the fun and games were not to last as, just before her 5th birthday, her owners noticed some gradual infinitesimal changes; occasionally Belle would be playing and then all of a sudden momentarily look a little ‘lost’ before snapping straight back to normal, she started to require a helping hand to get in and out of the truck and she seemed to slow down slightly. Initially Belle’s family put these small changes down to her age, reasoning that perhaps she was growing up, getting lazier, distracted by things, etc but they had absolutely no way of predicting what would happen next…

One day, Mr & Mrs Saunders returned home and noticed that Belle hadn’t got up to greet them. This immediately spiked concern and after searching for her, their concern proved well warranted as they found poor Belle collapsed, unable to get up. Belle was immediately rushed into SAP where she presented with an abnormally low heart rate; she was cold, vacant and unable to support her own weight so it came as no surprise that, following a thorough assessment by one of our vets, she was promptly admitted for emergency treatment.

Belle was initially started on supportive IV fluids as urgent blood tests were taken to try and determine the cause of her sudden crash. The results from the bloods confirmed Belle’s diagnosis – she had developed Addison’s, a not uncommon, yet relatively unheard of, condition in dogs. Addison’s characteristically presents as a low heart rate, but poor Belle had gone one step further and entered an ‘Addisonian Crisis’ which had caused her collapse and lethargy. Addison’s is caused by a deficiency in cortisol (the stress hormone) stemming from the adrenal gland. It is rapidly progressive and requires immediate veterinary care or it can be life threatening. Although there is no cure for Addison’s, diagnosed dogs can lead a normal life if the condition is effectively managed with regular treatment usually consisting of a combination of monthly injections and daily oral steroids.

Belle was very lucky that her parents got her to the practice as quickly as they did, enabling our vets and nurses to save her life and reverse the Addisonian Crisis. She is now stable and happily back to normal at home, visiting us regularly for her injections. Symptoms of Addison’s are varied and non-specific, so it is a tricky condition for owners to spot and can be dangerous if left untreated. To avoid scares like poor Belle, we strongly recommend following a regular six-monthly health check plan, where our veterinary professionals in the practice can examine your pet, allowing us to address any potential indicative symptoms quickly and effectively, whether it be for Addison’s or another health concern.