Saturday April 21st 2018

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PDSA Vets Save Beloved Dog From Killer Disease

A pet owner from Bristol has paid tribute to PDSA vets for saving her dog’s life after he contracted a potentially fatal disease.

Taffy, a three-year-old black Labrador, received intensive treatment at the charity’s PetAid hospital in the city for ten days after being taken in by his worried owner, Sally-Anne Tarsey. Sally-Anne (37) of Long Ashton, Bristol, became increasingly concerned by the symptoms being displayed by Taffy, which included trouble walking and being sick.

Very worryingly, Taffy became jaundiced, which led PDSA vets to suspect that Taffy had leptospirosis, a potentially fatal disease in pets and people alike. They immediately admitted the desperately ill dog for intensive care and he was kept in isolation. Taffy needed specialist infection control methods to prevent the severe and potentially fatal disease from infecting staff, and also to prevent other dogs from catching the highly contagious disease.

Leptospirosis is often caught by dogs playing on waste ground, streams or rat-infested water-courses. The disease causes a number of symptoms including vomiting and paralysis, as well as jaundice, and can lead to kidney and liver failure. The bacteria are spread through the urine of an infected animal. But the good news is that vaccinating dogs and keeping the annual boosters up-to-date can protect them from this potentially deadly disease.

Worryingly, PDSA vets in Bristol have noted a rise in the number of cases: the pet hospital usually sees around two cases a year, but they have already seen six in the last three months alone.

Mother-of-one Sally-Anne said, “Taffy was almost paralysed and wouldn’t move. He couldn’t even keep water down and was vomiting and the vet said he was jaundiced. She said he needed to be admitted straight away and she thought it could have been leptospirosis, which I had never heard of before.”

PDSA vets said that if Taffy had not received medical treatment when he did he would have died.

Sally-Anne was worried that Taffy may not pull through his ordeal but said she was praying it had been caught early enough. She said, “It was terrible when he was at the vets and I just literally cried for the whole time he was in there. It was such a relief when he was able to come home. I can’t thank PDSA enough for all that they have done for Taffy.“

Taffy is now well on the road to recovery but Sally-Anne wished she had known that the disease could have been prevented easily just by keeping his vaccination boosters up-to-date.

“Taffy had his puppy vaccinations but I never knew how important booster jabs are. I’d encourage every pet owner to check that their pet’s vaccinations have not run out so that you don’t have to go through what I have. I would be lost without PDSA, they have saved his life.”

PDSA Veterinary Surgeon Penny Morgan, who oversaw Taffy’s treatment and recovery, stressed how vital vaccinations are, “This case highlights the importance of vaccinations and in particular, booster vaccinations. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be prevented by this quick procedure, which also protects pets against a whole host of other easily spread diseases such as parvovirus and distemper in dogs, cat flu and feline leukaemia in cats and mxyomatosis in rabbits.

“In Taffy’s case, we used a method of nursing called ‘barrier nursing’ which ensured the infection didn’t spread to other pets and people. He was treated with antibiotics and IV fluids as well as having numerous diagnostic tests. After ten days in-patient care, thankfully Taffy was well enough to return home.”

More information about vaccinations, which can provide peace of mind for pet owners that their pets are protected against preventable diseases, can be downloaded for free from PDSA’s website,

Bristol PDSA PetAid hospital provides free veterinary treatment to the sick and injured pets of local people in need. For more information on PDSA or to enquire about eligibility please visit or call 0800 7312502.


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