Little dog, big heart

Veterinary Health Center cardiologists treat puppy for rare heart defect.

Nov. 19, 2020

dog in a red hoodie with a yellow backpack on

Ruby often wears a red hoodie and a backpack, where she carries treats.

Jessica Bascus, a native of Marceline, Missouri, adopted a Jack Russell terrier puppy in December 2019. The puppy, whom she named Ruby, had a known heart murmur and was was surrendered to a local veterinarian. Bascus had originally planned to foster the dog, but during their first meeting, she knew it wasn’t going to be a temporary relationship. “I absolutely fell in love with her the moment I saw her,” Bascus said. “I just knew she was going to be a part of our family.”

Shortly after Ruby came home, Bascus noticed Ruby was sluggish, not running with her other puppy and struggling to keep up. A veterinarian in Kansas City referred Bascus and Ruby to the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center, where veterinarian Kelly Wiggen diagnosed Ruby with two congenital heart defects: a double chambered right ventricle (DCRV), which is very rare, and a ventricular septal defect (VSD).

Unfortunately, the VSD was not treatable due to potential complications with surgery and its location, but the DCRV could be improved through a high-risk procedure. “DCRV is a very rare congenital heart disease so there aren’t very many reports of this in the literature,” Wiggen said. “Of the reports that do exist, some dogs responded favorably to surgery, and some dogs did not.” Bascus decided to proceed with the surgery, which Wiggen performed on June 3, 2020.

Bascus said that just three months after surgery, Ruby is already showing improvements. “I take Ruby running all the time with my other dog, and she is so close to catching him even though he has longer legs,” Bascus said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Read more from the College of Veterinary Medicine

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