New treatment method saves dog’s life

A Great Dane’s life has been saved with the help of a ground-breaking new treatment at a Scottish pet emergency in Glasgow, it was the first time this procedure has been used in Scotland.

Vets Now treated four-year-old Merlin, who weighs 10 stone, after he was losing blood because of a life-threatening twist in his intestine. Getting sufficient donor supplies for such a large dog can be “challenging as well as hugely expensive” according to Vets Now, so its clinical team used a procedure called ‘cell salvage’, which effectively recycles the dog’s own blood.

In Merlin’s case, blood that had leaked into his abdomen was recovered, before being washed and filtered in the cell salvage machine, and then returned to him by way of transfusion.

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Merlin’s owner, Graeme McClain, of Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, praised the hospital staff for saving his dog’s life and said he feared he would lose Merlin as his condition worsened.

McClain said: “Merlin had an operation at our local vets after they discovered his intestine had gone up and attached itself above his stomach meaning they needed to put it back to where it should be.

“Afterwards, he went into Vets Now for routine post-operative care and overnight observation, but the vet said his heart rate was elevated due to an internal bleed so he had to go into emergency surgery. There was a high risk of losing him at that point. Two operations back to back and being knocked out twice with general anaesthetic is not good for any dog.”

The Royal Veterinary College in London is the only other place in the UK which has the machine and it has been used in the US, however its use is scarce.

Sheila McLellan, an emergency and critical care veterinary nurse at Vets Now Glasgow, said: “Due to Merlin’s size — Great Danes are about 70kg — we knew we wouldn’t have enough blood to replace what he was losing so we used our cell salvage machine for the first time.

“This allowed us to take Merlin’s blood from his abdomen and feed it into the machine which essentially washed and filtered the blood, allowing our emergency vets to give it straight back to him.

“Merlin is such a splendid looking dog and really something of a gentle giant. We’re so glad we were able to save his life.”

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