A team of veterinarians in British Columbia have succeeded in operating on an abandoned dog this week in what is considered to be the first open heart surgery involving a canine patient.
Dr. Michael King and his colleagues at the Canada West Veterinary Specialists (CWVS) were able to address a rare congenital defect on a 7-month-old Doberman/German shepherd crossbreed they named Taylor.
When Taylor was first taken to the local animal shelter managed by the Whistler Animals Galore (WAG), rescue workers noticed that the dog was in medical distress and suffered from a distended abdomen that appeared to be filled with fluid.
They took Taylor to animal cardiologist Dr. Marco Margiocco at CWVS who carried out a CT angiogram and cardiac ultrasounds on the ailing dog.
It was discovered that Taylor had a rare heart defect in which a membrane had been retained in the dog's right atrium and impeded the flow of blood back to its heart. This caused the pooling of fluid in Taylor's abdomen.
At first, Margiocco tried to address the heart defect using a less invasive method, but it did not work. This led to the doctor opting to have Taylor undergo a risky open-heart surgery, which is the first of its kind.
What makes the procedure dangerous is that surgeons only have around two minutes to complete the operation before Taylor suffers potentially fatal repercussions from the lack of blood flow.
King and his team successfully completed the open-heart surgery on Taylor in around one minute and 40 seconds.
"This really was the only way to give him a healthy life," King said. "It was life or death."
The doctors said Taylor is currently recovering from the procedure and is set to be released to members of the WAG, who will help find a suitable home for the canine.
Taylor soon to be up for adoption by WAG after BC's first-ever dog open heart surgery. Pics by CTV's Shelley Moore pic.twitter.com/PAwxBlAXlN
— Sheila Scott (@Sheila_Scott) November 6, 2015
King said that Taylor was able to bounce back from the heart surgery much faster than what is normally expected from human patients.
He added that the dog was eating and wagging his tail at the night of the surgery and already began walking around the following morning.