Miss Maya and The von Wille-Monster!

This is the story of a pretty little Doberman Pinscher named “Maya”. Maya truly is a beautiful little girl, especially since nobody has mauled her ears or her tail and they are still proud and beautiful.
She is just under 7 months old and is quite delicate and small for a doberman, at just under 50 pounds. Maya is owned by Genesis Dog Rescue out of Ottawa and Belleville. Her foster owner Kirk wants to adopt her but they cannot adopt her out until she is spayed. Miss Maya however has a serious problem, she is von Willebrand’s positive.

Von Willebrand’s Disease is a hereditary disorder (exactly the same as it is in people) that can severely reduce the ability to create a blood clot in those affected by it. It is too common in Doberman Pinschers as well as a few other breeds (Golden Retriever, Shetland Sheepdog, Rottweiler, Miniature Schnauzer, German Shepherd, German Short-Haired Pointer, Standard Poodle, and Scottish Terrier). The upshot of this disease is that if you are severely affected by it you can quite easily “bleed out” due to a large or deep cut. Even superficial cuts can lead to pretty severe blood loss in the people or animals with this disorder.

Since this disease is hereditary it is extremely important that dogs carrying it do not have the opportunity to reproduce and create puppies with the same problem. The problem of course is that surgery can be quite risky in these dogs unless you take certain precautions to prevent them from bleeding excessively after surgery.

Maya’s von Willebrand’s Factor level was only 18 (levels below 30 are high risk for surgery), and her veterinarian in Ottawa was very reluctant to spay her due to the risks involved with the surgery. They recommended (as many private practitioners would) that Genesis take her to Alta Vista Animal Hospital in Ottawa to have the surgery performed. Regrettably the surgical quote from Alta Vista was beyond what Genesis could comfortably pay.

As we have a very close relationship with Genesis, they asked if we could help. Luckily enough we have the facilities here that we could perform this surgery with an extra little bit of preparation.

We contacted a company in Kingston called Lifestream that is basically an animal blood bank. These folks can manufacture a product called cryoprecipitate that would be transfused into Maya before and after surgery to boost her clotting ability. When we told them that Maya was a rescue dog they very generously offered to donate a bag of cryoprecipitate for after her surgery. Considering the cost of this product this was a very generous gift and very much appreciated by all of us involved.

Before the surgery (along with all of our usual preparations) we infused Maya with 2 bags of cryoprecipitate and proceeded to perform the spay. We used our radiocautery unit to control even the tiniest of bleeding vessels and the spay went quite uneventfully. That evening we infused the bag donated by the folks at Lifestream and we kept her in our hospital for forty-eight hours to monitor her blood counts. Normally we only keep dogs twenty-four hours after a spay procedure but in these cases you need 48 hours to be sure there is no internal bleeding. Through the day Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning Maya’s blood counts stayed steady. On Saturday morning Maya went home with her very happy foster/owner-to-be with nothing more than tiny little pin-point bruises on her belly where her skin sutures were placed.

Apparently Maya is recovering very well and Kirk cannot keep her quiet and even her tiny little belly bruises have disappeared. Her vet in Ottawa ran her blood count this morning and it was unchanged from the counts we did here.

Thanks to the efforts of the wonderful people at Genesis Dog Rescue, the generous folks at Lifestream and the love of her “almost-owner” Kirk the world gets to keep another beautiful canine soul in it. “Miss Maya” is off to a great start to the rest of her life.

Mike Steen DVM
April, 2014