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An adorable puppy called Patrick was the unluckiest dog ever after he was struck down by a mystery ailment causing uncontrollable diarrhoea.
Poor Patrick was unable to properly digest any food because of an unusual autoimmune disease– leaving him dangerously-thin and deprived of nutrients.
But he did inherit the luck of the Irish with his super-loving owner Jael Magee – who never gave up on him and went on a year-long crusade to get him back to health. Now, after dozens upon dozens of vets appointments and a medical case note history as long as a book, whippet Patrick is literally jumping for joy.
And Jael, along with her partner Keith Toland, is busy making sure brave wee Patrick has a St Paddy’s Day to remember after he battled through the crisis which left him perilously close to death.
“Patrick is a mini-miracle,” said Jael. “He’s a tiny dog with a huge heart and incredibly brave with it. He might be small – but he’s mighty brave.
“It’s been a very long road and, at times, I was worried he wouldn’t make it, but I never lost hope and promised myself that I would do everything I could for him.
Thanks entirely to Jael’s willingness to keep going with vet tests and treatments, Patrick was eventually diagnosed with mixed cell inflammatory bowel disease. It’s a relatively rare condition in which the lining of the intestine is invaded by inflammatory cells – leading to chronic irritation and inflammation of the small and large intestine.
And the version of the condition which Patrick has is rarer still – because it is caused by his genetic make-up rather than by diet or any particular foodstuffs.
The diagnosis came after a complicated upper and lower endoscopy was performed using a camera and taking multiple biopsies of Patrick’s intestinal track and stomach. The gruelling treatments left Patrick struggling for days to recover.
But it was all worthwhile because the diagnosis has allowed vets to finally bring his condition under control using steroids and immuno-suppressant drugs, with Patrick now on a special diet designed to build up his strength.
However, the symptoms Patrick still has to deal with being on long-term immunosuppressants include increased hunger, thirst, skin-thinning and hair loss.
Jael said: “Nothing could have prepared me for what we’ve been through with Patrick. His veterinary medicine surgeon said he’s the youngest dog she has ever diagnosed with this disease.
“It was awful seeing him helpless with diarrhoea all the time – it just breaks your heart to see your pet in distress like that.”
The team at Jael’s local vets, Drumahoe Veterinary Clinic in Derry, carried out exhaustive tests on Patrick and treated him for a possible case of the gut infection Giardia before referring him for specialist treatment at Earlswood Veterinary Hospital in Belfast.
It was at Earlswood that the breakthrough diagnosis came last March – but it took longer than expected for Patrick, who at that point was aged just eight months. As a result he had to spend a weekend being monitored day and night at the Vets Now emergency pet clinic in Belfast before returning to Earlswood.
Our senior vet Natasha Melbourne said: “We were very happy to help with Patrick – he was a lovely wee guy and we’re so pleased he is doing so well now.
“We often provide weekend care for pets who are being looked after by our colleagues in other clinics and practices.
“It’s an important part of what we do as a 24/7 service.
“But all credit to Jael for being such a diligent and loving owner – it’s very clear from Patrick’s case how absolutely committed she has been to getting him well.”
Now that he is diarrhoea-free, Patrick weighs a healthy 10.8kg – more than 2kg than he did at his most poorly.
Jael said: “He’s getting stronger every day, running up and down and then sitting chatting and yapping on the sofa.
“He’ll need to be on medication for life – but that’s fine: the main thing is he’s still with us and we’re very lucky to have him.
“He has had terrific care from the three different teams who’ve been involved. I’m very grateful to everyone for going the extra mile for him and I just wouldn’t have been able to do it all without Keith, who has been an amazing support all the way through.”