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"Murphy" - Irish Wolfhound with Pneumonia
Photo: Irish wolfhound Murphy standing


Murphy – a 7 year old Irish Wolfhound – is a well known face at our practice. She has had investigation for skin problems, and a long running problem with a tail injury.

Having been free of illness for some time, Murphy was obviously missing us! She became suddenly lethargic and subdued after her pal – a Wolfhound pup – went careering into her at play.

Initially, Murphy’s owner, Mr. Ford, thought that this was the cause of the problem. However, when my colleague Terry Dunne examined her, he noticed that she had an unusually rapid and irregular heart beat.

In giant breeds of dog, there is a common condition that affects and weakens the heart muscle – dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Terry was concerned that this may be the problem, and that the bump from the pup may be a red herring. I then became involved, taking ECGs and X-rays of Murphy’s chest.

It became apparent that despite her unusual heart rhythm, Murphy’s heart looked normal on our x-rays. This was not typical of DCM, and – unsure as to our diagnosis – we sent Murphy to see Mike Johnson – a cardiologist in Kenilworth.

After ultrasound scanning her heart and taking additional x-rays, he informed us that Murphy had pneumonia. As a specialist, he had seen several cases of this in Wolfhounds, and told us that it is an “idiopathic” condition in this breed. This means that we don’t really know why it occurs!

In most dogs, pneumonia occurs because there is something else wrong with the dog such as an abnormal oesophagus or larynx, which makes the dog prone to inhaling food particles into the lungs. But in Murphy, it was “just one of those things”!

Fortunately, she has responded well to antibiotics, and her heart problem – just a complication of the Pneumonia – has resolved as the pneumonia has improved. Hoipefully, Murphy has had her “fix” of coming to the vets’, and won’t get the urge to visit us again for some time!

Geraldine Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS

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