Taylor’s Story: Canada West Performs B.C.’s First Successful Canine Open-Heart Surgery

On November 3, 2015 Taylor, a 7-month old german shepherd/doberman cross, became the first dog in British Columbia to successfully undergo open-heart surgery.  The procedure was done here at Canada West Veterinary Specialists hospital, and involved a 12-person Canada West team led by surgeon Dr. Michael King and cardiologist Dr. Marco Margiocco.

About Taylor

Taylor is a rescue dog who was under the care of the non-profit Whistler Animals Galore Society (WAG). WAG referred Taylor to us when they noticed that he appeared to be in distress and had a very distended belly. Dr. Margiocco ultimately diagnosed Taylor with a rare heart defect that was causing blood to pool in his abdomen.  After less-invasive treatment options proved unsuccessful, it was determined that open-heart surgery was the only viable option to save Taylor’s life. However, Taylor had a good prognosis for a long full life without the need for ongoing … Continue reading

Decreased Thoracic Excursions (ventilatory failure)

The neurological patient that develops respiratory failure usually has obvious neurological disease. Intubation is always indicated in respiratory failure associated with decreased ventilation. Once the patient has been stabilized, the lesion must be localized. This will help the clinician establish a list of differential diagnoses and the general prognosis for the patient. If the disease is treatable owner commitment and expectations need to be explored as these cases can require long-term intensive management.

Brain Sedative drugs (opiods), trauma, edema, neoplasia herniation, thromboemboli, hypoxia, hypoglycemia, encephalopathy
Cervical cord Trauma, disc,fractures, polyradiculoneuritis, myelography, laminectomy
Neuromuscular Myasthenia gravis, polyneuropathy, botulism


Intubating the patient and initiating ventilation is the first step. The next stage is planning the diagnostic work up and treatment procedures. This helps establish whether a resolution of the underlying disease process is feasible and may aid in providing owners with an estimated time for successful weaning from the ventilator.

Unless … Continue reading

Central cyanosis due to respiratory disorders

Cyanosis associated with respiratory causes are often found at later stages of disease processes. The presence of cyanosis in respiratory distress requires rapid decision. The clinician must determine whether the patient is likely to respond to medical therapy (typically — oxygen supplementation, sedation, bronchodilators) or require intubation and possible ventilation.

Respiratory failure is typically classified into dysfunction of oxygenation (inability to oxygenate – most common problem in our veterinary patients) or ventilatory failure (inability to eliminate CO2). Additionally, it is further characterized as to whether it is acute or chronic.

This is a more precise classification scheme however, while oxygenation can be estimated in the awake patient not receiving oxygen supplementation by a pulse oximeter, it does require access to blood gas analysis for CO2 measurement.

Another possible classification is to define the respiratory failure according to the patients breathing pattern. The advantages of this classification is that it is … Continue reading

Rehabilitation Therapy Service Update

Our Rehabilitation Service has continued to grow and we look forward to helping many more of your nonsurgical and postoperative patients in the future. Our recently purchased Response Class 3b laser has become our work-horse and is used on nearly every rehabilitation therapy patient to aid in pain relief, relief of inflammation and tissue healing. Our underwater treadmill is used extensively to aid in the rehabilitation of orthopedic and neurologic patients and has been helpful in treating many soft tissue injuries.

Sara McLean-Piper, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist and Dr. Terri Schiller, Dip ACVS recently attended a 3 day Neurology rehabilitation therapy course in Denver, Colorado. The course was sponsored by the Canine Rehabilitation Institute and focused on rehabilitation therapy techniques for patients affected with medical, nonsurgical and postoperative neurologic abnormalities. The course instructors were excellent and we learned many new treatment options for our neurology patients.

Dr. Schiller has now … Continue reading

Are You “Hip” to Joint Replacement?

Total hip replacement has been available as a surgical treatment for canine hip dysplasia and degenerative osteoarthritis for 30+ years in veterinary medicine. There have been many improvements and modifications that have occurred during that time in implant design and surgical technique that have resulted in a 90% overall success rate in clinical cases performed by skilled joint replacement surgeons.

Dr. Terri Schiller, Dip ACVS, has 20 years of experience with total hip replacement. During her time at North Carolina State University she was involved in the development of a canine cementless total hip replacement system (Canine PCA) that was designed as a research model by a human orthopedic company. For the canine patient this system was highly successful and the company subsequently allowed its use for clinical canine patients. Unfortunately, this system was never commercially produced and once the initially made implants ran out the company initiated no further … Continue reading