Hospital for Small Animals

Dog makes full recovery following mechanical ventilation

Multiple specialist services at Hospital for Small Animals worked collaboratively to save critically ill pet.

Healthy German Shepherd dog sat in the garden

A young dog has made a strong recovery after requiring emergency mechanical ventilation from the Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) team at the R(D)SVS Hospital for Small Animals.

Access to life-saving equipment and the expertise of several specialist veterinary referral services saved the pet, who was struggling to breathe due to pneumonia.

Swift diagnosis

Ula, an eight-month-old German Shepherd was first seen by the General Practice of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies’ Hospital for Small Animals in March. The young dog was lethargic, had lost her appetite and was in severe pain. On examination, she also had an elevated temperature.

She was quickly referred to the Hospital’s specialist Neurology Service, where clinical staff suspected that Ula had a condition called steroid responsive meningitis-arthritis (SRMA), an immune mediated condition causing severe inflammation of the blood vessels in the covering of the nervous system (meninges).

For a definite diagnosis to be made, Ula was anaesthetised for a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid from around the spinal cord) to be removed for analysis.

Breathing difficulty

German Shepherd dog lying in hospital bed connected to ventilator

Following recovery from the procedure, Ula had difficulty breathing and required oxygen therapy. Ultrasound and x-rays of her chest suggested that pneumonia was the cause.

Unfortunately, Ula’s breathing continued to deteriorate, so she was anaesthetised and placed on a ventilator - a life support option for those pets with the most severe respiratory disease.

The ventilator took over the work of breathing, allowing Ula time to rest and for her medications to work. During this time, Ula had a designated team of vets and nurses with her at all times and received care similar to human patients on ventilators in intensive care units.

Strong recovery

48 hours later, Ula was strong enough to be slowly taken off ventilation. Nine days after being admitted, Ula was well enough to be discharged. Now, three months later, Ula’s pneumonia has cleared, and she is responding well to long-term treatment for SRMA under the care of the Hospital’s Neurology and General Practice teams.

We are fortunate to be working in a veterinary hospital with a multidisciplinary team able to provide high level of 24/7 care to the sickest of dogs and cats. Without the dedication and expertise of our team we wouldn’t have been able to help Ula.

Daria StarybratSenior Lecturer in Emergency and Critical Care, Hospital for Small Animals

Specialist teams

The Hospital for Small Animals is the largest multi-disciplinary hospital in Scotland. Staff from the General Practice, Neurology, Internal Medicine, Diagnostic Imaging, Anaesthesia and Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) Services worked together to ensure that Ula received the best care possible.

The Hospital for Small Animals is one of the few veterinary hospitals within the UK to have both a critical care mechanical ventilator and an experienced ECC team highly trained with this life support type of treatment.

Although mechanical ventilation will not be suitable for every dog and cat with breathing difficulty, the Hospital’s specialist ECC team are ready to provide more advanced mechanical ventilation when conventional medical treatment and oxygen supplementation are not enough.

About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

The Roslin Institute

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Roslin Innovation Centre

The Hospital for Small Animals

Equine Veterinary Services

Farm Animal Services

Easter Bush Pathology

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.