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"Cassie" - Standard Poodle with Myasthenia Gravis



At Fairfield, we pride ourselves on our standard of veterinary knowledge. Our annual spend on continuing education approaches £10,000 pounds as we continue to learn about new conditions and how they can be treated successfully. Just as important however is knowing when to stop treatment and making big decisions on the patient's behalf to bring to an end to any suffering. "Cassie" was just such a patient where our expertise had to surrender to our compassion.

Standard Poodles are a very underrated breed of large dog. "Cassie" was a fine example: bright, energetic, beautiful temperament and always kept in superb condition by her owners. It therefore came as quite a surprise when "Cassie" suddenly started sitting down on her walks unable to take a step further.

When I saw "Cassie" I immediately knew that her condition was serious and had a hunch that it might just be a very rare disease known as myasthenia gravis. Blood samples were taken and sent to a laboratory in Texas, USA to confirm my suspicions.

In the meantime, "Cassie" was started on medication which in the early stages produced a miraculous transformation (Click here for a Video). Many vets can go a lifetime and never see this problem so being in a situation where we were able to diagnose and treat this disease, where the immune system attacks the nerve endings in the muscles, was very exciting initially.

Tragically however, over the following few days "Cassie's" condition deteriorated despite what we did. Our initial euphoria turned to torment and frustration. Finally, as her situation became bleaker we decided in consultation with her owners to "put her to sleep". Deciding when to stop is never easy for us or the owners but is an essential part of what we do. Patient case conferences amongst our professional staff is a daily occurrence and helps us to make the correct decisions................ even if that means stopping treatment for those individuals where another option exists.

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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