March 2018 Newsletter

Trip to France Results in Longer, Healthier Life

Julieanne and Dutch in Clinique Bozon

Dutch started choking after drinking water and breathing heavily. Fortunately for him, his pet parent Julieanne took him to the veterinarian and found out that the low grade heart murmur they had discovered in 2014 had turned into a real problem — mitral valve disease. That meant heart failure. The 12-year-old Miniature Schnauzer went on three different heart medications and Julieanne took him up to Gainesville in September to see Dr. Simon Swift, medical director of the University of Florida’s small animal hospital. Swift specializes in cardiology and is researching degenerative mitral valve disease.

When Julieanne asked what they could do for Dutch, Swift ran a series of tests and decided the dog was a candidate for heart surgery. In France or Japan. (Taking the dog to Japan would have required a 6 month quarantine.)

Dr. Uechi has performed heart surgery for more than 10 years in Japan and in partnership with Doctors Sabine and Jean Hugues Bozon in France.

Julieanne and Dutch ended up in Versailles, France, at Clinique Bozon in January. The surgery was performed February 1st and the dog spent a week there. “The hospital was amazing,” said Julieanne. “I got snowed in for a couple of days and they sent me videos and photos.”

The dog used to take three different heart medications twice a day plus additional supplements. Now he takes one pill twice a day, and hopefully he will eventually not need that anymore. Each dog post op is different. Most dogs are off all meds, but Dutch’s heart was more damaged from the disease and he is an older dog.

Although Dutch would really have preferred to get to France any way except by airplane (he gets nervous just riding in a car), the two of them flew there and back with him sitting in her lap. In order to have Dutch on the plane with her and not in the hold, Julieanne had him certified as an emotional support dog through Certapet. She couldn’t imagine a nervous dog with serious heart problems riding in the hold.

Because going abroad for such specialized surgery can be bewildering, pet parents who have gone through the process have founded Mighty Hearts Project — an all-volunteer group that helps coordinate all of the travel arrangements as well as a place to stay. They
also provide emotional support for all those pet parents who have gone through this process.

According to the Mighty Hearts Project website: “The surgery usually takes 7½ hours; with complications, it can go as long as 15 hours. In simple terms, while the dog’s heart is stopped, and life-support provided through a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, the surgeon rebuilds the deformed mitral valve, using a ring made of a plastic called expanded polytetrafluoroethylene to improve the orifice. He also uses ePTFE to replace the cords that hold the valve leaflets, or flaps, in place.” The success rate is 90 percent. Variables include a dog’s age, heart status and overall health.

Since taking a pet to France for heart surgery isn’t within the reach of many pet parents, Dr. Swift is trying to make it affordable
by setting up the operation in Gainesville at a not-for-profit hospital.

Julieanne and her husband Bill, who are contributing to the project, said Swift needed $330,000 as of last September. Mary Beth is glad Dutch has come through the surgery successfully and says, “Not only did she help make her own dog well, but now she’s working toward making it possible for other people to have the same heart operation for their dogs without having to go to either Japan or France.”

Note: Approximately one in ten dogs (10%) will develop some form of heart disease during their lifetime, and approximately 80% of the heart disease is due to mitral valve insufficiency. MVI is more common in small dogs than large breeds.

Use Caution –Good Smells May Be Deadly

An article showing up recently on Facebook warns about using essential oils around your pets. Not all essential oils are harmful, of course, but a search on the ‘net shows that quite a few are.

According to Veterinary Medicine Today, people who are owned by dogs should avoid the following: clove, garlic, juniper, pennyroyal, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme, wintergreen and ylang ylang.

People who are owned by cats should avoid: cassia, cinnamon, citrus, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, peppermint, spruce, tea tree and thyme. (Notice that tea tree and thyme are listed for both animals.)

Of course, the amount of danger depends on a number of factors including the amount of dilution, quality of the oil, the ventilation in the room and probably other things we haven’t even thought of.

The type of contact is important too — ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation.

Whether chemicals are inhaled or absorbed through the skin, they make their way into your pet’s blood and, from there, to all the tissues and organs. And while your body can detoxify, pets’ bodies are smaller and can’t deal with the same amount of toxins that are harmless to you.

They are metabolized through the liver and can lead to skin allergies, chronic health issues such as respiratory problems and cancer.

Symptoms which may show your dog or cat has a problem include:

  • Fragrance or scent on hair coat, skin or breath or in vomit
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty walking or uncoordinated gait
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Redness or burns on the lips, gums, tongue or skin
  • Vomiting

If any of these symptoms show up, take your pet to your veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately.

Do NOT induce vomiting. Do package the product in a sealed plastic bag and take it with you to the veterinary clinic. If you pet has the product on its skin or fur, quickly wash it off using hand dishwashing detergent.


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