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Viagra mends dog's heart

PUBLISHED: 13:08 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:33 07 September 2010

Bentley

Bentley

A DOG with a chronic heart condition has been saved from an untimely death - by a prescription of Viagra. Springer spaniel Bentley was on his last legs with a nasty case of lungworm when his owners took him to the PetVet veterinary clinic in Highgate, but

A DOG with a chronic heart condition has been saved from an untimely death - by a prescription of Viagra.

Springer spaniel Bentley was on his last legs with a nasty case of lungworm when his owners took him to the PetVet veterinary clinic in Highgate, but now he has perked right up again.

Vet Ben Harris, who works at the clinic in Archway Road, discovered the parasites had spread to seven-year-old Bentley's pulmonary artery and he was suffering heart failure as a result.

He prescribed the dog a course of Viagra, the drug best known for treating erectile dysfunction in humans.

"Bentley first came to us in June when he was barely able to walk a few steps," he said.

"Lungworm is a very nasty disease that is transmitted by slugs and snails. Dogs eat them and pick up lungworm.

"Larvae from the molluscs then migrate to the pulmonary artery next to the heart.

"It can cause severe bleeding problems and is potentially fatal."

Although Viagra is not a standard treatment for lungworm, it was used with Bentley to treat the heart problem that had developed as a result of the disease.

It works by relaxing blood vessels in the heart and lungs that have become narrow and fibrous.

According to Bentley's owner David Roach of Church Vale, East Finchley, the drugs have not produced any unwanted side effects.

"He was neutered when he was very little so he's never had a very active reproductive life," he said.

Mr Roach and his family first noticed their beloved pet was not his usual bouncy self in the summer this year.

"We noticed his breathing was laboured in the evenings when he was at rest when he was lying in the lounge with us," he said.

"We didn't think anything of it initially because all dogs have their eccentricities. But then we realised it was getting worse."

After a series of scans costing several thousand pounds, Bentley was diagnosed and the vets prescribed him a cocktail of drugs including Viagra and he was gradually nursed back to health.

"He will be on Viagra for the rest of his life now," added classical saxophonist Mr Roach.

"But he's a very happy and active dog again. He's a much loved pet and valuable member of the family, and he's been saved from an early death. We are incredibly indebted to the vets for their dedication."

Vet Mr Harris warned that PetVet had seen one fatality as a result of lungworm already this year - a Bull Terrier puppy, who died within 18 hours of going into intensive care.

"Lungworm has traditionally been a rural disease in damper parts of the UK and these two cases are the first I've encountered in London," he added.

The surgery is recommending that all dog owners contact their local vet for advice on preventative treatments for their pets.

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