Adorable 8 year old Gabby (DOB 6/12/2012) joined our program after she was surrendered by her family - they felt she needed more attention than they could give her. She has since undergone her full intake vetting at our pawtnering clinic, Caldwell Mill Animal Clinic 🐾 Gabby’s heartworm and tick borne illness test was negative, her fecal test negative, and her urinalysis and bloodwork normal. While her eyes, knees, and hips are clear, a significant heart murmur was detected during her physical exam. She is scheduled to undergo a full cardiac evaluation and echocardiogram with our veterinary cardiologist on 9/28.. If cleared, she will undergo a dental cleaning soon after.
Gabby is already spayed and microchipped and is now up to date on vaccinations as well. She is overweight at 25 pounds but should have no problem shedding the extra 5+ pounds now that she is getting plenty of stimulation and activity and eating high quality, low calorie, strictly portioned meals. We will be sure to post a cardiac update on her after her evaluation on Tuesday 💜 Gabby is being fostered in Birmingham, Alabama.
UPDATE OCT 21, 2020: Precious 8 year old Gabby was diagnosed with severe mitral valve disease when she first arrived into rescue and started on heart medications to help support her heart and slow down any further progression of the disease. Earlier this week she returned back to the cardiologist for another scan to see if and how she is responding to the medications. Per her cardiologist she has made “REMARKABLE IMPROVEMENT!” Her chamber size has actually improved, her pulmonary hypertension is controlled, and there is no evidence of heart failure. She is also down much needed 3 pounds since arriving into our care. She is now clear to undergo her much needed dental and removal of a cyst on her eyelid which is scheduled for next Wednesday. We will be sure to let you know that all went well 💜 Gabby is being fostered in Birmingham, Alabama. She will remain on heart medications for life and will need to remain under the care of a veterinary cardiologist.
UPDATE OCT 26, 2020: Gabby will have her much needed dental surgery, and a cyst removed from her eye, on Wednesday. In the meantime, she enjoyed some fall festivities with her Foster mom and Foster brother over the weekend. How cute are they?!?!?
UPDATE OCT 28, 2020: Today, Gabby had her much needed dental surgery, and a cyst removed from her eye, and did great! She only lost one tooth. She is rocking that cone of shame!
UPDATE JAN 20, 2021: Honk, honk! Gabby is here for her echocardiogram recheck! 🚗💨
Yesterday, precious Gabby had a visit with our cardiologist to see how she was responding to the heart medications she was put on due to severe mitral valve disease. We are happy to report that she is responding very well and all her measurements and numbers have improved 🙌🏼 Additionally, she is down to a healthy 19 pounds after arriving into our care at a heavy 25 pounds and is looking and feeling fantastic 💕 However, her echo scan picked up on something in her right atrium that was not there previously. We suspect this to be a thrombus (blood clot) so we have started her on a blood thinner and will be rechecking the area of concern in a few weeks to be sure it has resolved. We will be sure to let you know 💜
UPDATE FEBRUARY 24, 2021: When darling 8 year old Gabby was surrendered to us by her family she had a significant heart murmur due to mitral valve disease (MVD) which had not been properly assessed or managed. She saw our cardiologist and received her first echocardiogram with us at intake where she was diagnosed with severe mitral valve disease and started heart medications to help support the heart and help slow down further progression of the disease.
Gabby has had multiple recheck echocardiograms since then where our cardiologist has seen “remarkable improvements” each time with her parameters improving and her pulmonary hypertension well controlled. She has responded so very well to the medications. She has also lost 6 pounds in our care since arriving obese which we know has also improved her heart and overall health. She was able to receive her much needed dental and remove a bothersome cyst on her eyelid. Everything has been looking up for Gabby!
But on her January echocardiogram, something was seen on her right atrium that wasn’t there on her previous scans. We suspected this to be a blood clot/thrombus so we started Gabby on Plavix (blood thinner) and she returned this week for a recheck to ensure the blood clot was gone.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t gone and so this is very likely a tumor 💔 The mass is small (about the size of a pea) and you can see it on the upper right side of this image. We know we caught it early because she was having regular scans and on one scan is wasn’t there, and the next it was. It is impossible to know from the echo if the tumor is IN her heart or ON the right atrial wall. If it is on the wall, there may be the option for surgical removal. Our next step is a CT scan and we are awaiting scheduling of that.
These types of tumors are not typically caught early because they do not cause symptoms until very advanced and therefore too late to do anything about them, so the prognosis is typically grim. It just so happens that Miss Gabby was having frequent scans with us due to her advanced MVD where we were able to catch this at its beginning stage, so we pray that this means a chance at a far greater outcome than most dogs have with cardiac tumors 🙏🏻
We are very upset by this finding and eager to know more. We will be sure to share more when we know more 💜 Gabby is being fostered in Birmingham, Alabama, and is under the care of our wonderful and skilled cardiologist, Dr. Ingrid Straeter-Knowlen at Animal Cardiology/Animal Rehab and Fitness.
UPDATE March 31: Precious Gabby arrived to Auburn University today for her consultation after a mass on/in her heart was recently detected by her cardiologist during her echocardiogram. Today, she had a physical exam, bloodwork done (which was perfect) and an ultrasound which was negative for any other lesions or masses found. Tomorrow she will undergo the CT scan where we will hopefully learn much more about this mass and what our options are 🙏🏻 We will be sure to keep you posted 💜
UPDATE APRIL 4, 2021:
Gabby traveled down to Auburn University to meet with the oncology team after a mass was detected during her last echocardiogram as we were monitoring her advanced mitral valve disease.
She underwent a CT scan where it was determined that the 1.3 centimeter mass was located inside the right atrium of her heart. Unfortunately because of the location, biopsy is not possible so there is no way to know for sure exactly what kind of tumor it is. The best they can guess is that it is hemangiosarcoma although it is rarely INSIDE the heart and more commonly on the outside wall of the heart. Hemangiosarcoma is malignant tumor most commonly found on spleen, liver, and right side of heart and has a high rate of metastasis. Gabby did undergo an ultrasound and there were no other lesions or masses found.
Again, due to the location, surgery or radiation isn’t a treatment option. Some chemotherapy can be considered which would not be curative but could possibly slow down tumor growth. Unfortunately there is not much literature to know how effective the chemotherapy is and especially since we don’t know exactly what we are treating since we cannot biopsy the mass (which could even be benign, although not likely). All chemotherapy can have side effects and since we are also managing Gabby’s advanced mitral valve disease we have to be even more sensitive to side effects and stress on her body.
The goal of course is to continue to effectively manage Gabby’s mitral valve disease and keep her as comfortable and happy as possible. We have a very happy and outwardly healthy girl right now so at this time we feel it is in her best interest to forgo the chemotherapy. She will continue to be under the car of our amazing cardiologist and get regular echocardiograms where we can continue to monitor any growth of the tumor. If we see that the tumor is starting to grow, we may open up discussions about chemotherapy again, but at this time we are going to keep doing what we are doing which is obviously working for our precious girl. Because her long term prognosis is guarded, we have officially moved her into our Hospice Program where she will remain in our care with the goal of making sure the rest of her days are the best of her days where she will continue to have access to the very best medical care and where her every need will be met.
We will of course continue to keep you posted on how sweet Gabby is doing 💜