Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): Zoey's Surgery

by Nate Estes

Zoey was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) in July of 2016. 

We were told it was a disease of the heart where the valve degenerates causing a regurgitation of blood back into the heart, ultimately leading to congestive heart failure and death. They said nothing surgically could be done to fix this, only medication to delay its onset.

As you can imagine we were devastated, left without any hope. Zoey was only given a year left to live.

I searched frantically online for something and found that Cornell University hosted a team of Japanese doctors that perform Mitral Valve Repair surgery. Dylan Raskin was able to secure the funds to fly them to the US, hotel them and cover all the medical expenses.

His dog Esme was almost at death's door but two years after this surgery is more than saved, she healthy and like a puppy.

Sadly, the doctors are only performing this surgery in France, Japan, and Singapore and are the only ones qualified in the world doing the surgery. I learned all I can about this and in the end, I flew my dog from Los Angeles to France for an open-heart mitral valve repair surgery.

The surgery was done October 26th 2016 by Dr. Masami Uechi and Jean Hugues Bozon of the Clinique Veterinaire BOZON 2424 in Versailles France.

Zoey is healing well and her heart has already reduced in size. 

Her energy level is like a puppy.  Zoey is off Pimobendan and Enalapril for good.  She only requires blood thinners for the first three months of recovery to avoid blood clots.  No running or jumping as well until cleared by Dr. Sabine Bozon who is Zoey's cardiologist in France.  In addition to her work Dr. Sabine also does the Pre-operative patient profiling and is the director of the surgical aftercare program for her clinic.

Prior to surgery, Zoey's heart was extremely large and her left atrium vein was dilated and stretched. 

The surgery also revealed she was almost going to have a chord rupture. Once this is healed, her heart will continue to shrink and her murmur should reduce as well.

Our three-month post-op check is on January 28th with Dr. Hodge from UC Davis's satellite office in San Diego. Zoey's surgery had no complications and was expected to have a 98 percent result. We feel truly blessed with the level of care we have received from the 6 day ICU care from the Bozon clinic.

Currently, no US surgeon is able to perform this surgery unless they'd study abroad learning Dr. Masami's technique, bringing it back to the US.

The surgery involves heart and lung bypass machine (seen in pics) which the Bozons are the only certified specialists outside of Japan qualified to do small animal bypass.

It involves strengthening the mitral valve with a gortex loop and reattaching the valve to the heart wall with six gortex chords to replace the stressed or stretched out chords. In addition, they strengthen and add extra chords to the heart to ensure any possible future ruptures will have no ill effects on the condition.

The goal of this surgery is to restore them to the B1 stage and repair the valve as much as possible to reduce the regurgitation.

 By using the gortex material, there is no rejection. Valve replacements have been attempted yet failed because the body rejected it. Anti-rejection medications didn't work.

This surgery is currently the only option to save dogs suffering from MVD and most cardiologists are unfamiliar with it.

This is history in the making.

I am always asked about the cost and why is it so expensive so here it is,

The clinic is using state of the art medical equipment that most human hospitals dream of having, such as the mentioned cardiopulmonary bypass machine and a cell saving machine that allows for a transfusion of Zoey's own blood during surgery should she have needed it. Donor blood is also available onsite in the case more is needed.

I didn't have the money but was able to secure high-interest rate loans that I barely could afford. I did this without hesitation to save Zoey.

We have set up a Facebook support group about this surgery and are helping to ease the stress of many others that will take the journey we've been on.

God bless,
Nathan Estes

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Adoption Monday: Arndt, Labrador Retriever Mix, Huntington, NY

Arndt is a sweet older gentleman in the literal sense.

He truly is a gentle boy, and very sweet. 

Arndt walks well on leash, and gets along with other dogs. He has shown interest in cats by perking his ears up and watching them but has not growled or lunged towards them. If homed with a cat, we recommend a proper introduction be made to play it safe.

Arndt is looking for a loving, mellow, forever home to live out his golden years; a warm, cozy place to lay his head and curl up next to his human. 

Arndt is neutered and current on vaccinations.

If you are that special someone to provide this sweet boy with the love he so deserves, please contact RickyC68@aol.com.


Smiling Dog Farms is a sanctuary for the dogs no one else wants or can handle, and dogs who would otherwise face euthanasia.

They have come from shelters, other rescues and individuals. Every dog is up to date on shots, including rabies vaccinations. Every single dog at Smiling Dog Farms has been examined by a licensed Texas vet. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: High Calcium, GOLPP, Acupuncture for Seizure Disorders

Primary Hyperparathyroidism in Dogs – High Calcium Isn’t Always Cancer!

Dr. Christopher Byers

Every time my dogs get blood work done, I like to study it. I like to understand what all the items mean, I keep a spreadsheet with trends for some important values such as those reflecting kidney and liver function. It happened not once that I was told everything looked fine but when I looked at it I had questions. Why is this one elevated? Why is that one below normal? And even though within normal, why does that one keep going up?

It satisfies my analytical mind to see things with my own eyes and to analyze what I'm looking at. There were times when I was told everything looked fine but after my follow-up questions it turned out there were things to investigate. Why not catch things when they are still subtle?

My dogs usually always have calcium levels within norm. When Jasmine's calcium was low, it turned it had nothing to do with calcium itself but with a protein that carries it around in the blood, albumin. It was low; the calcium present corresponded to the albumin levels. The reason albumin was low was because immunoglobulin was high. Those two like to balance each other; if you have too much of one, you have to have less of the other. There is a lot of important information in the blood if one takes the time.

When calcium levels are high, cancer is the primary suspect. Jasmine's blood results showed high calcium once, I was quite concerned. Bottom line, though, high calcium does not always mean cancer.

Ever heard of primary hyperparathyroidism? The parathyroid is a gland, as you might have guessed, controls the calcium levels in the blood. It the control doesn't function properly, it results in high calcium.

Learn more about primary hyperparathyroidism here.

The Problem With Seizure Medications and a New Therapy to Consider

Dr. Karen Becker/Mercola Healthy Pets

Those who follow my blog know that I am not a big fan of drugs. I use them when I have to but prefer other solutions when possible. The main problem with any drug are the potential side effects. And our dogs had their share with those. It only makes sense that I avoid using drugs everywhere I can.

Can seizures in dogs be controlled without drugs? Perhaps they can. I know a number of people who successfully manage their dogs' seizure disorders with an integrative approach--Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). This can include food therapy, herbal therapy, and acupuncture.

Every dog is different and a treatment plan should be as individual as possible. If my dog did suffer from a seizure disorder, TCVM would be on the top of my list of things to consider.

Would I have a drug on hand just in case? Perhaps. But there seems to be enough anecdotal evidence, clinical evidence and now some studies, showing that an integrative approach can be just as effective and much safer. In Four Paws, Five Directions, Dr. Schwarts says that anything that can be treated with conventional medicine can be treated with TCVM.

Read Dr. Becker's thoughts on
treating canine seizure disorders with acupuncture.

How ‘Lar Par’ is Multifaceted but Treatable

Dr. Phil Zeltzman/Veterinary Practice News

Does your dog suffer from laryngeal paralysis? For a long time, it was believed that it is an isolated disease, affecting the larynx only. But is it?

A friend's dog started having issues and was diagnosed with Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy (GOLPP). GOLPP is a progressive neuromuscular syndrome, that can affect older dogs of some large-breed dogs. Some symptoms can be obvious, such as panting, breathing issues, gagging, hoarse voice ... while others can be easily mistaken for signs of arthritis. Really, folks, not everything that causes weakness, ataxia, lethargy, muscle atrophy is arthritis. Not everything that causes lameness is arthritis. Arthritis is very common but don't be fooled and miss out on important stuff.

To learn more about GOLPP and what can be done about it, read Dr. Zeltzman's article.
You can also learn how physical therapy can help dogs suffering from this condition.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Veterinary Highlights: Finding Best Technique to Identify Metastasis in Dogs with Oral Melanoma

Currently, there is no standardized approach in veterinary medicine to assess for metastasis in oral malignant melanoma in dogs.

The purpose of the UC Davis study is to compare lymph node palpation to the appearance of the local lymph nodes on CT scan and a combined PET/CT scan to histopathologic results in an effort to determine which method may be the most reliable for identification of metastatic (tumor filled) lymph nodes.

Results from this study will hopefully improve medical knowledge about the capabilities of CT and PET scans, potentially limit unnecessary sampling and/or removal of lymph nodes, and better guide medical care for your dog with oral melanoma.

The costs of the scans and surgical removal of the lymph nodes, as well as up to $300 for study-related adverse events, are covered.

The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators can be reached at
or by phone 530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759.

Source article:
Current Veterinary Clinical Trials: Oral Melanoma

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Limping an Emergency?

Only 28.13% of the survey participants feel that limping is an emergency.

Limping is usually not an emergency unless ...

A limping dog should get veterinary help immediately if there was a major trauma, fracture or dislocation, bleeding, severe swelling, hot limbs or dragging of limbs, Limping is an emergency when accompanied by severe pain.

Limping always indicates pain or dysfunction of some kind.

Whether or not it is an emergency is a matter of degree.

For example, if your dog got hit by a car, fell from a great height, it is always an emergency. If your dog has been running and playing and suddenly starts screaming in pain and not putting any weight on a limb, it is an emergency.

If you broke your leg, would you wait and see or would seek emergency care?

If your leg hurt enough to make you scream, would you wait and see or rush to the ER? The same logic applies when it comes to your dog.

Acute limping is more likely to be an emergency.

Keep in mind, though, that limping and limb pain that is getting worse instead of better could mean bone cancer. While not a true emergency per se, you want to have that diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Have I ever taken my dog to a vet for limping immediately?

Yes, I have. I have never had a case where we'd have to rush to an ER; our dogs have never had such a major trauma, for which I am thankful.

But there were a couple of occasions when we saw a vet with a limp the same day it happened or the next.

Related articles:
What is that limp?

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Panting an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Severe Pain an Emergency?