Griffey is a 12 year old neutered male Maltese mix. He weighs all of 2.2 kg! In June 2012 Griffey was seen by his regular veterinarian for coughing. Griff was diagnosed with heart disease at this time and was put on two medications to help with this condition. On the morning of June 23, 2012 Griffen was not quite himself; he wasn’t interested in his treats and was coughing more than usual. That evening when one of Griffey’s loved ones came home Griffey was having difficulty breathing. Griffey was rushed to the Riverside Small Animal Hospital where he was examined right away. Griffey was limp, laying on his side and having extreme difficulty breathing as his lungs were full of fluid secondary to congestive heart failure. An IV catheter was established and a diuretic was given to pull the fluid out of Griffey’s lungs so he could breathe easier. While this was being administered, poor Griffey’s heart stopped beating. Griffey was intubated so we could breathe for him and epinephrine was given to start his heart beating again. Success! We could hear a heart beat and Griffey started breathing on his own again. The tube was removed and Griffey was maintained on a low level of IV fluids to keep his blood pressure up, but not too much as we didn’t want more fluids going into his lungs. The technician went to tell the owners that their beloved little pet was okay when he arrested again. Once again, Griffey was intubated and bagged with oxygen. Epinephrine was given again to jump start the heart and external cardiac massage was begun. After what seemed an eternity, we could hear a heart beat and feel a faint femoral pulse! We hooked up the ECG and Griffey had premature ventricular contractions (the atrium and ventricles in the heart are beating out of synchronization with each other). Lidocaine was given to correct this, which lasted about 5 minutes. Lidocaine was repeated and a constant rate infusion of lidocaine was established (a slow steady IV drip of lidocaine versus an injection).
Griffey appeared awake but was not overly responsive throughout all of this. After 30 minutes we were able to take the endotracheal tube out as Griffey was easily breathing on his own and the lungs were beginning to sound clearer i.e. the fluid crackling sounds were not as prominent. By 2am Griffey was stable, and his owners had arrived from Bellingham, having driven through the night after they had been told that he was in the Hospital. Griffey’s family were able to visit with him and surround him with their presence and their love. He was not overly responsive, but was definitely aware that his family was there. I think that he really was not ready to leave his loving caring family yet.
Griffey spent the night in an oxygen chamber and slept comfortably throughout the night. Twelve hours post cardiac arrest Griffey was brighter and more responsive. 24 hours post arrest he was wagging his tail and taking special treats from his owners. 48 hours post arrest Griffey was home with his family again. Since that night, Griffey has steadily improved. He is energetic, eating and drinking and has a new lease on life! Needless to say, Griffey’s family is thrilled to have their little companion alive and well.
Without a doubt, this sweet, gentle little wisp of a thing is our miracle dog. Only 1-2% of dogs will actually recover from non-anesthetic related cardiac arrest (with CPR), and Griff did not arrest once but twice within a short period of time! His determination, will to live and enthusiasm for life have been an inspiration for all of us here at Riverside Small Animal Hospital.