An award-winning animal hospital in Yorkshire has successfully intervened in the challenging case of a young puppy born with a series of heart and abdominal defects.

Inver, a 13-week-old Flat Coat Retriever, arrived at Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield with his owners worried about a loud heart murmur and his persistent panting.

The multi-disciplinary team at Linnaeus-owned Paragon carried out a series of tests and examinations which revealed a catalogue of problems afflicting the young dog.

Debbie Hyman, Paragon’s advanced practitioner in veterinary cardiology said: “Inver had an ECG, a cardiac ultrasound and X-rays which revealed he had a ventral septal defect and leaks from both the pulmonic valve and aortic valves, the two main arteries of the heart. The image of the heart was also obscured by gas-filled structures within the pericardial sac.

“Blood tests also showed that he had mild anaemia, low blood protein and low vitamin B12.

“We also discovered that he had another congenital birth defect, a peritoneal pericardial diaphragmatic hernia (PPDH).

“This had caused his intestines to displace from the abdomen through the hernia into the pericardial sac, obscuring the image of the heart.”

The PPDH was identified as the chief cause of Inver’s lethargy and he underwent surgery with vet Nick Blackburn to fix his hernia the next day, assisted by anaesthesia and analgesia specialist, Liz Leece.

Nick said: “First the intestines were put back into the abdominal cavity and then the pericardial sac and diaphragmatic hernia were closed.

“It was a tricky operation as there were adhesions between the intestines and the pericardial sac, so we had to be very gentle not to damage the blood supply to the intestines.

“After surgery, our excellent nursing team helped him back to recovery, gradually reintroducing his food and once he was eating normally, he was discharged.”

Inver’s blood protein and vitamin B levels have since returned to normal, indicating his intestinal function and absorption has improved, while a follow-up heart scan also showed stable results.

“Since surgery, Inver has thrived. He has continued to grow and now weighs 28kg and has become quite an athlete,” Debbie added.

“As a result, we remain optimistic that he will not require any further interventions to close the small hole in his heart, although we will continue to monitor his heart condition in the future as a precaution.”

Paragon provides multi-disciplinary small animal care including anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and soft tissue surgery.

For more information on Paragon Veterinary Referrals, visit

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