As many of you know, Jersey was born with a heart murmur. It’s fairly loud in nature and can be rather alarming to Veterinarians that examine him… But it doesn’t seem to affect his over all quality of life. He’s a happy, loveable, healthy dog despite it all.
The one real limitation to having a heart murmur, however, is that being ‘put under’ for surgery can be extremely risky. How risky it is depends on where exactly the hole in the heart is, and how the heart is functioning… but those things cannot be determined by a normal veterinary exam. Only an Electrocardiogram &/or Echocardiogram &/or full exam by a Cardiac Specialist can give that sort of detailed information. When an average veterinarian hears a high-grade heart murmur like Jersey’s, all they can do is say, ‘Until he has further testing done, we just don’t feel confident anaesthetizing him’. It sucks.
So, after 3 years of putting it off, I decided to make an appointment with a canine cardiac specialist to have some proper diagnostics done on Jersey’s heart. With the results I would not only know more about Jersey’s prognosis.. but also know how likely it will be that I will ever be able to get Jersey neutered, or have a tooth pulled if he ever needed, etc etc. It’s expensive testing, but it would shed light on some things that really need to have some light shed on them. Oh- and to be clear- insurance does NOT cover this exam because Jersey’s heart trouble is considered a pre-existing condition. So his $600 exam was paid for out of pocket.
But, I’ll be honest with you… I’d be avoiding this appointment for more reasons than just because it’s expensive. I’d also been avoiding it because I was scared of what the doctor might find. What if Jersey’s prognosis was NOT good? What if the doctor told me that Jersey was suffering? What if he only gave him a year to live? I just couldn’t bear the idea of getting BAD news about my sweet, gentle, seemingly-healthy boy.
Anyway. It was time to get it done. So, I brought Jersey with us to Vancouver this past weekend (a 8 hour drive!) and brought him for his Cardiology Appointment at Canada West Specialists.
The whole appointment only took about and hour and a half. They did a few tests with me there in the room, and then took Jersey back to run a few other tests. Afterwards, the Cardiologist came out to explain the findings.
And amazingly, it was all pretty good news!
I mean, the BAD news is that, as we already knew, Jersey has a hole in his heart. We learned from his exam, that it’s a 5mm hole located in the wall that separates the right & left sides. The GOOD news is that as far as hole sizes & locations go, this isn’t too terribly bad, and his heart is still functioning fairly well. The doctor does not expect his condition to worsen dramatically any time soon… and expects that Jersey will be able to continue living a fairly normal life. Woohoo!
And the best part? He said that despite the hole, anaesthesia should not be a concern. He made sure to mention, however, that French Bulldogs, being flat-faced dogs, are inherently more complicated to anaesthetize than other dogs. As such, I should seek out a skilled & confident doctor who are familiar with this breed…. but his heart will not present any real additional risks.
“Assessment: Jersey has a congenital heart defect of a type that is seen frequently in this breed. It consists of the presence of an abnormal communication between the left ventricle and the outlet of the right ventricle. Blood flows through this communication, moving from the high pressure left ventricle to the lower pressure right ventricle, is “re-circulated” through the lungs and then returns to the left heart. The condition appears to be mild/moderate in severity at this time, as estimated by the presence of near-normal cardiac dimensions. There are no significant contraindications for general anesthesia at the moment and medical or interventional treatment is not recommended/necessary.”
So! It looks like Jersey will finally be able to be neutered! To be clear, I am not all that bothered by him being unneutered… He has a wonderful disposition and I don’t feel like neutering him will “improve” him in the slightest… However, the fact of the matter is that remaining “in tact” drastically increases his risk of prostate and/or testicular cancer. And I would be devastated if he got either of those! So getting him neutered absolutely needs to be on the agenda.
I still feel pretty nervous about the idea of putting him under for surgery… and it may be a few months before I can bring myself (and seek out a qualified enough veterinarian that I trust) to do it.. But just knowing that it is even a possibility is pretty huge. High-fives for good news!