The Case of Ioa

Since StreetVet’s inception in 2016, Dechra have been robust supporters of the charity providing several of our mainstay eye and ear treatments completely free of charge.  So many of the dogs we see suffer from skin disease and related eye and ear conditions that, without treatment, have a huge impact on their quality of life.  Occasionally we meet really special patients who make a big impression and require a little more help than our regular healthy patients.  One such patient was Ioa.

Ioa, a beautiful deep blue-grey mastiff, weighing in at 76kg(!), first met the Cambridge StreetVet team in April 2018.  At the time she had just turned 11 years old (an exceptional age for her breed) and she was living in a shelter with her owner.  A gentle but nervous giant, it took some time to earn Ioa’s trust but she quickly became a regular patient in Cambridge and the StreetVet team totally fell in love with her.

In December that year, Iao was attending a regular health check to receive flea and worm treatment when the vets noticed that her heart rate was racing and her pulses were worryingly weak.  She was already being monitored for arthritis and a minor eye complaint but had otherwise been considered to be in good health.  The team were concerned that she might be suffering from a condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) where the heart muscle stretches and in turn this reduces its ability to contract and pump.  Thankfully, local cardiologist Paul Smith offered to perform a free heart scan and diagnosed that Ioa did not have DCM but she did have another condition that was disrupting the electrical activity and therefore the contractions of the heart muscle. At the time her heart was reaching speeds of 300 beats per minute – approximately three times the normal rate!  Although it was not possible to identify the cause, Ioa was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia and was at risk of sudden death.

StreetVet appealed to the veterinary community for support, as providing such a large dog with heart medications is a challenge in itself.  Dechra were quick to come forward to provide pimobendan free of charge.  Ioa was immediately started on this heart medication, alongside her arthritis treatment, and was enjoying a good quality of life.  By the summer of 2019 she was doing well and had far surpassed everyone’s expectations, but her owner reported that she was still a little quiet and was gaining weight.  Routine blood tests revealed that Ioa was also suffering from hypothyroidism which can lead to muscle cramps, hairloss, weakness and fatigue.  She was quickly started the thyroid supplementation, and was soon able to go for short walks and regained her confidence and personality, much to her owners relief.

Unfortunately Iao took a turn for the worse just before Christmas 2019.  Her heart began to fail and her owners made the very difficult decision to let her go peacefully with the support of their StreetVet team.  It has been wonderful to witness Ioa defy the odds time and again and to go on to live happily and comfortably for over a year since her heart condition was first identified.  Without the help of companies like Dechra this just would not have been possible and it is heart warming to know that this old, gentle mastiff had so much more time to enjoy life with her devoted owners.


Written by Roz Wright