28 February 2024

A working dog left struggling to breathe after a severe infection is back to full fitness following emergency chest surgery here at Willows.

An image of a springer spaniel named Sprocket. He has a brown face and white body and he is wearing a buster collar. Sprocket is sitting down and looking up at the camera

Sprocket, a seven-year-old Springer Spaniel, underwent the life-saving procedures as his health had rapidly deteriorated to the point where breathing was becoming a real problem after contracting a condition called pyothorax, believed to have been caused by a grass seed which had entered via the lungs.

The severe illness sees pus and material build-up within the chest cavity, eventually collapsing the lungs.

In the worst cases, the infection can spread to the rest of the body causing multiple organ failure.

Chris Shales, European and RCVS Soft Tissue Surgery Specialist and Clinical Director at Willows, said: “Following initial stabilisation and advanced imaging, Sprocket’s owners opted to proceed with emergency surgery.

“It was a serious case, as we found evidence of long-standing infection throughout his chest cavity and over all the organs.  

“It was also challenging as Sprocket was quite unstable and required significant intervention.

“Together with my colleague Eugenio Gaudio, we were able to remove most of the infected tissues.

“The great news is that Sprocket made a steady recovery and has now returned to his happy, and busy, life with his owners.”

As Sprocket is a working dog, it is believed the infection may have been caused by a migrating grass seed which worked its way through his airways and lungs.

Sprocket’s grateful owners, Robin and Wendy Sanders from Lichfield, said: “Chris was amazing with his knowledge, communication and professionalism.

“He sustained a constant dialogue through each procedure which was reassuring. The team at Willows went above and beyond our expectations and returned Sprocket to us happily back to normal.”