The best treatment relies on the best knowledge – simply put, without the AHT, more animals would be sick, suffer and die prematurely. Every penny of profit we make is re-invested into research to improve the health and wellbeing of your animals.
For 75 years we have been the leading UK charity where research and treatment are carried out in one place. Below you will find stories of some of the animals we have helped, and updates on some of our current research programmes.
We hope, with the support of people like you, that we will be able to achieve even more in the next 75 years! Click here to find out how you can help us do that.
Prince, a four-year-old American miniature pony, was referred to our eye specialists suffering from entropion; a painful eye condition in which the eyelids fold in and consequently cause the eyelashes to grow inwards and irritate the eye.
If left untreated animals with entropion can lose their sight, but Prince was lucky to have our expert ophthalmology team on hand, who were able to operate and save his eyes.
Amanda Poulton, of Alamanda Therapy Animals and Prince’s owner, said: “Prince is a therapy horse. My husband and I take him and our other pony, Applause, into hospices and local schools to aid the recovery of patients, or learning of students with special needs.”
“I personally suffer with ME and having my animals around me has given me a reason to get out of bed in the mornings. I feel so blessed to have animals in my life and get so much pleasure out of seeing how much joy they bring to the lives of others, particularly those who are ill.”
Entropion is not a common problem in horses, but with the right surgery and aftercare it can be solved and managed relatively easily. Prince was able to return home shortly after his surgery and was expected to be back ‘on duty’ providing therapy at an event the same week!
Ziggy, an Italian Spinone, had idiopathic epilepsy. He sadly passed away in September 2016, after four years of managing his seizure. This is his story in the words of his owner Faye Gordon:
“Ziggy had his first seizure when he was a year and nine months old. Eight months later he had another seizure and then they started every four weeks. We consulted with our local vet and tried a number of antiepileptic drugs with varying degrees of success. Ziggy continued to seize very regularly and the seizures started to get more frequent.
In September 2014, my veterinary neurologist referred Ziggy to the AHT, as the charity had just completed some research on epilepsy in Spinone and knew that their phenobarb blood levels to be at the very top end of the therapeutic range.
Between the AHT and my vet, we managed Ziggy’s epilepsy by email and went from seizures every seven – nine days to just over 15 weeks without a seizure and counting!
Lots of dogs with epilepsy respond well to a single antiepileptic drug. But others, like Ziggy, have refractory (drug resistant) epilepsy and need to be managed by a good neurologist with a lot of experience treating epileptic dogs who will work out which particular combination of medication works for that particular dog.
During the four years he had epilepsy, we had really good times of stepping out into the light. During his last year, we saw his longest ever seizure free time of six months. This was a real moment of triumph and a belief that if we had achieved this once then we could carry on doing that. However, in the end, our vets, the AHT and we were left wondering if he had something else going on alongside his epilepsy.
Ziggy truly was an Epilepsy Warrior to the very end. If his quality of life had been good, we would have kept fighting alongside him for as long as he had that quality of life and as long as he wanted to keep fighting. We made the hardest decision we ever had to make in September 2016 – if we love our pets as much as we say we do, then this is the final act of love we can do for them.
Living with a dog with epilepsy is like being on a continual roller coaster of emotions as epilepsy will lull you into a false sense of security and as soon as you start to relax it will throw you a curved ball. I am so proud of my Epilepsy Warrior and will continue to help, support and educate owners, vets and dog owners about epilepsy. This is Ziggy’s legacy.”
Epilepsy affects several popular dog breeds, as well as cross breeds, and can be a very difficult condition for dogs, and their owners, to live with. We are currently researching epilepsy in a number of breeds of dogs to learn more about this condition and hopefully, find some answers.
In 2015, a resident horse at Redwings Horse Sanctuary was diagnosed with Strangles.
This was the first time in 23 years that the sanctuary had had an outbreak in one of its resident herds. To ensure the swift diagnosis and containment of this highly contagious disease, they turned to the AHT for help. Together we combated the disease for eight months.
Our scientists and diagnostic laboratory staff worked closely with the Redwings team in devising and conducting laboratory testing protocols in order to clear this incursion of the disease, and together we have learned valuable new lessons. The AHT applauds Redwings openness in publicising that it had Strangles and its thoroughness and timeliness in dealing with the problem, returning its population to a Strangles-free status – we think this is a great example for others in the horse sector.
In addition, samples taken from the herd will ultimately help our research into eradicating Strangles. A greater understanding of which genes are required to cause the disease will inform and direct the AHT’s work towards the development of an effective vaccine.
There is still much to do in the fight against Strangles.
Lula was referred to us after displaying some out of character behaviour. When competing at dressage Lula reared during the test, she had never done this before and her owner felt that something wasn’t quite right. Lula’s behaviour became more unpredictable at competitions and at home. After checking Lula’s teeth, tack and feet to see what was causing these outbursts, she was referred to the AHT, suspecting that there was an underlying pain-related problem.
Lula was assessed on the lunge and ridden and showed a reluctance to go forwards and a low-grade lameness in both hindlimbs. She was nerve blocked in her hindlimbs to pin point where the pain causing lameness was originating from. Once the problem area was identified, further ultrasonographic investigation confirmed there was proximal suspensory desmopathy (damage to the suspensory ligament) in both hindlimbs. This is a very common injury that our clinicians see in performance horses and treat on a regular basis.
Lula was recommended for a neurectomy and fasciotomy, which involves removing a piece of the nerve that innervates the painful ligament; and also cutting through the band of tissue (fascia) which effectively squashes the ligament between the back of the cannon bone and the splint bones. Approximately 76% of horses with primary proximal suspensory desmopathy are able to return to full athletic function for a minimum of two years, and we were confident that Lula was a good candidate for the surgery.
Lula made good post-operative progress and has gone from strength to strength. We all wish Lula a continued great recovery and all the best for future competitions.
We are actively researching a number of injuries and factors which cause lameness in horses.
Loui is a Seal Point Mitted Ragdoll, who received lifesaving surgery in our Small Animal Centre.
His owner noticed something unusual in his eye, which led his vet to diagnose him with jaundice and unusual blood liver parameters. Loui was referred to us, where our Internal Medicine clinicians were able to confirm that he had severe liver dysfunction. An ultrasound showed a severely blocked bile duct leading to the intestine and Loui was rushed in for surgery.
We were unable to save Loui’s main bile duct meaning a more complex and invasive procedure in order to restore his liver function was needed. After multiple difficulties, our surgeons were able to reconstruct the link between the gall bladder and the gut. Loui had a lot of fight in him and despite the complexities of his case; slowly managed to pull through against the odds.
Following his surgery Loui required a high level of aftercare, which involved our team of dedicated nurses syringe-feeding him recovery food at regular intervals. Loui’s owner had to learn how to do this before he could go home, as he was still too weak to eat on his own.
Loui’s owner said: “We were so worried about our poor Loui, he means the world to us, and I’m sure other pet owners can relate to this! We visited him as much as possible whilst he was in the intensive care unit.
“The AHT were just incredible, he wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for them. The AHT is an amazing charity and the level of care and support is second to none. We are extremely grateful.”
After a lot of care and attention, Loui made a fantastic recovery and we were very pleased to have been able to help such a lovely cat.
Foxy was referred to our Equine Clinic with a mystery lameness which wasn’t improving.
Katie, Foxy’s owner, said, “Foxy’s a tough little character and even at her worst she was only showing very subtle signs of lameness. We were struggling to get to the bottom of the problem, so at the recommendation of my vet I decided to bring her to the AHT.”
Within three days Foxy was diagnosed with extensive damage to both hind suspensory ligaments and a bruised pedal bone in her left fore. After much discussion, it was decided a double neurectomy (the surgical removal of all or part of a nerve) was the best option, and while Foxy was recovering this would also allow the left fore to heal on its own.
“The girls on the yard were fab during Foxy’s stay at the AHT, they spoke to me every night to assure me that Foxy was well and happy. Three days after her operation, I was able to come and pick Foxy up and take her home to continue her recovery.”
The road to recovery for Foxy was a long one, starting with total box rest and then an in hand daily walk – which Katie increased by 5 minutes every week until eventually they were walking for an hour and a half in hand daily! Eventually, Katie was finally able to get back on Foxy and return to a normal amount of work. Katie said, “I have to be careful about what surfaces I put her on but she’s happy and enjoying all of her work.”
We are actively researching a number of injuries and factors which cause lameness in horses.
Harvey, a Lab cross rescue dog, was referred to the AHT after his family noticed a tiny lump on his stomach. The lump was removed by Harvey’s local vet who sent it off for testing. Tests confirmed the lump was a malignant mast cell tumour. Jacqui, Harvey’s Mum, said: “We were shocked as Harvey is so full of beans. We were referred to the AHT who discovered the cancer had spread to Harvey’s lymph glands, so the best treatment to pursue was chemotherapy.
“Harvey had a year of chemo, first weekly, then fortnightly and then monthly. To look at him you wouldn’t know there is anything wrong with him and he’s continued to live life to the full, he especially still enjoys rolling around in the mud during his walks. Throughout the treatment Harvey has shown no side effects – he’s still as lively as ever.
“We’ve had to make a few alterations around the house, such as making sure Harvey and our cat don’t drink out of the same water bowl and being especially careful to clear up all of Harvey’s poo promptly from the garden but this has all been extremely manageable. The main thing we’ve noticed is that his fur doesn’t grow back quite as fast if he’s been shaved for an ultrasound.
“Harvey is now off chemo and is receiving follow-up treatment. The treatment we’ve received from the AHT has been first-class – always keeping us informed and treating both us and Harvey with greatest care. We can’t praise all the staff enough and would like to take this opportunity to say a very big Thank you!”
Mast cell tumours, like Harvey’s, are just one of the types of cancer we’re actively researching at the AHT. Our cancer research in dogs aims to understand more about which cancers will spread, or respond to treatment, so that vets can make more informed decisions about treatment options and prognosis in the future.