Darwin Animal Doctors


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  1. Pandora’s successful transfusion

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Pandora is a young German shepherd dog who’s carer brought her into the Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic seeking help, because her nose started bleeding. Her carer had though the the bleeding would stop, but in the end, it had continued for two days straight. There are few things that could cause unstoppable bleeding like this including intoxication, infection or a genetic disorder. The owner agreed that he has seen some ticks on Pandora lately, which led the team of Doctors to suspect an infection with Ehrlichia, which is quite a common problem in Galapagos.

    Pandora was hospitalized, and the Doctors drew some blood from her to run a few tests.  The blood test revealed some scary results; the levels of red and white blood cells were very low, and her platelet count was exceptionally low, which is why Pandora couldn’t stop bleeding. The microscopic examination of blood sample then revealed signs of the Ehrlichia infection. Pandora was in a bad state.

    The Doctors gave her the needed medication right away, but it takes quite some time to take effect. With Pandora’s nose still bleeding, the Doctors had to do something, and fast, to save Pandora’s life. The only solution was to give Pandora a blood transfusion.

    Pandora’s guardian wanted to do all he could to save her life, and immediately started searching for a donor. Unfortunately, none of the donors he found were big enough to give Pandora enough blood, but the Doctors were running out of time and needed to do something. In the end, they decided to use two donors at once to be able to give Pandora a sufficient amount.

    Such a delicate procedure would take all hands on deck. Dr. Filip let the blood collection team working on the first donor, while Dr. Alejo lead the team working on the second. The teams required four people each; one person was needed to hold the donor dog and keep them calm and relaxed during the procedure, another inserted the catheter, while a third drew blood into the syringe, and a fourth would mix the blood into anti-coagulant mixture. It was a very difficult and long procedure, but in the end enough blood was collected to give Pandora a fighting chance.


    Pandora was given the blood right away and, luckily, showed no adverse reactions to the transfusion. After a few hours, the procedure was complete and Pandora was stable enough to be sent home to be in a calm and familiar place.

    The next morning, Pandora came back with exciting news; Pandora was feeling much better and the bleeding from her nose had stopped completely! Pandora was given a check-up by one of the Doctors who was pleased with the results. She was then sent home with medication to treat Ehrlichia and scheduled another recheck for the day after.

    When Pandora returned again, she was looking better again. There were still no signs of bleeding, and her carer had said that she was even wanting to eat and play.


    “This is a great achievement, because blood transfusions are quite rarely used and even when used, the animals hardly ever make it out alive. We are very happy that Pandora’s case is a successful one. For that we have to thank all of our volunteers for their help and let’s also not forget the blood donor dogs, because they are the true heroes.” Reported back one of our volunteers.

    It is a near miracle that Pandora is still alive. Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, the caring guardian, and the amazing donor dogs, Pandora will continue to lead a happy, joyous life.

    Help us be there for more dogs, just like Pandora. Donate today.

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  2. Simba’s strength

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    One afternoon in the Galapagos, a little puppy was brought in by his family as he had started becoming very lethargic and stopped drinking milk from his mother. The little pup had two other siblings, one of whom had already passed away. The Doctors knew that they would have to react quickly and carefully to save this little pup.

    He was immediately hospitalized, and started on an aggressive therapy to treat the suspected infection. The therapy included a variety of medications to protect his gastrointestinal tract, a combination of antibiotics, and some supportive vitamins. The little pup was closely monitored and was fed frequently by our volunteers to ensure he had everything it needed to get better. To make matters worse, the poor pup was also infested with fleas and the Doctors had to treat this problem as well.


    Simba, on his first visit – too lethargic to even lift his head. After a few days, he was already looking much better.

    Within a day, the little pup was already looking much stronger, and was able to go home. He still needed to return twice a day to get his IV medication, but his loving guardian was dedicated to the treatment, and the pup was improving every day.

    In the end, the pup’s family was so pleased to watch the little pup’s health improve, that they asked the Doctors to choose a name for him. The Doctors named him Simba.


    Simba continued to return for treatment twice daily. Eventually, he was finally strong enough to stand and walk around.

    Soon enough, Simba was well enough to be sent home with only pills, not having to come back to the clinic for daily IV treatment. Soon he will return to the clinic for another deparasite/deworming treatment and, once his health is fully restored and he is a little older, he will also be sterilized.

    Help us save more lives, just like that of Simba. Donate today.

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  3. Muñeco

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Just as the Galapagos team had finished up for the morning and were heading out for their lunch break, an emergency arrived at the gates. Muñeco, a three year old Husky, had been chewing on a bone; one that was small enough that he had tried to swallow it.  The bone was now lodged in his throat, blocking his airway and giving him trouble breathing. The bone had also begun to aggravate Muñeco’s throat, and the team could see blood seeping out of his mouth. Poor Muñeco needed help immediately.

    The team put the Husky under anaesthesia so that they could properly examine and remove the bone, without risk of Muñeco moving, and causing more damage to his delicate airway. Dr. Alejo, with the help of Dr. Natasja and Julia, examined the pup’s throat. Sure enough, they saw the culprit – a bone was lodged in his esophagus. The bone had many sharp edges, and the team had to be extremely careful to remove the bone delicately, without damaging the tissue any further.

    “As soon as it was removed, we could see that Muñeco started breathing normally. Everybody was relieved!” reported back one of our volunteers.

    The bone had still caused some lesions to the esophagus, which will take some time to heal. The team are hopeful that Muñeco will make a full recovery, and have no further issues from the damage to his esophagus. But they also took this opportunity to remind us all just how dangerous feeding small bones to your dogs and cats is;

    “Unfortunately this is a case we see quite frequently. Lots of owners are not aware of the risk feeding bones. Dogs struggle with swallowing them and most of the time they get stuck in their throats which can end fatally.”

    Please remember to be careful when feeding your dogs and cats bones; make sure that they are big enough that they will not try to swallow the bone.


    Luckily for Muñeco, the Darwin Animal Doctors team was there to help when things went terribly wrong. Help us be there for animals all over the world; Become a monthly donor today.

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  4. Africa returns…

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Africa has had quite a rough last few months. After having a C-section at the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic due to a distressing pregnancy, she has recently returned again. While she healed very well from her c-section, she had developed a skin condition that was progressively worsening. If you remember, Africa had come into the Darwin clinic many times before to have this same condition treated. Likely the stress and struggle of the pregnancy weakened Africa’s immune system enough, that the condition returned.

    “The skin was inflamed, swollen, red and so damaged, that the flesh could be seen. Even her eyes already had a discharge. It must have been a very painful condition” reported our veterinary team.


    Africa; on her first visit

    The Doctors did a skin test on Africa, just to be sure they knew what they were dealing with. Under the microscope, they found Demodex – a skin parasite. She likely had a secondary skin infection as well, which would have jined one the Demodex took hold.

    “We started treating Africa with antibiotics and also gave her Bravecto – the strongest and best working anti-ectoparasitic medication we have here in the clinic. We told the owner to come back after two weeks to check how the condition was improving.”

    After two weeks, the family returned. And the progress was better than expected.


    Africa; on her second visit

    “The infection seemed to have all but disappeared, and there was a significant progress in the healing of Africa’s skin. The skin was calmer, no more opened flesh, no eye discharge.  And most importantly – no scratching – which meant it was no longer painful and itchy. There were still crusts on her face, so it still needed quite some time to heal completely.”

    Another recheck was scheduled for another few weeks later. Upon her return, Africa looked like a new dog. Her skin had cleared up, and her hair had almost completely regrown. Only at close inspection could one of the old lesions still just be seen. Her recovery was amazing.

    Africa; on her third visit.What a difference!

    During her treatment process, Alita, one of Africa’s puppies came into the clinic with hair loss and dermatitis issues on her head and around her eyes. The team quickly suspected Demodex as it can easily transfer between a mother and her puppies. Just to be sure, the Doctors tested Alita’s skin as well, and it revealed exactly what the team expected. Alita was also treated alongside her mother, and made an equally drastic recovery.


    Help ensure that all animals, just like Africa and Alita, have access to veterinary care. Donate today.

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  5. Lourdes and the rubber band

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Lourdes came to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic with a wound on his right front paw. The team of Doctors tried to examine the wound, but the poor pup was so frightened that he quickly became highly agitated and was trying to bite the Doctors. The family were not able to muzzle Lourdes and his behavior continued to escalate. Instead of stressing the poor pup any more, the team of Doctors provided the family with antibiotics and medication to help with the pain. They asked the family to give the medication to the dog once he relaxed and to bring him back into the clinic the next day so the team could try, once again, to examine the wound.

    The family and Lourdes returned several days later. The wound was still present, and had seemed to have moved from the back to the front of his paw. The Doctors suspected that something was constricting the limb, and causing damage throughout the paw. Knowing how fearful Lourdes was and how quickly he escalated the previous visit, the team sedated him immediately, allowing them to closely examine the wound.

    “As we suspected, we found a rubber band that someone put on the leg and it was already cutting deep into the flesh” reported one of our Doctors onsite.

    The team understood very quickly why Lourdes had become so nervous so quickly; he was in a lot of pain. While Lourdes was still sedated, Dr. Filip quickly and carefully removed the band, washed the wound thoroughly and closed it with few stitches.


    “With cases like this, prolonged constriction by elastic bands limits blood flow and after some time causes necrosis of the paw. Lourdes was very lucky, because despite having his paw constricted for probably close to two weeks, he only had deep and bleeding wounds. If the paw was necrotic, we would have had to amputate the leg. In this case though, the prognosis is very good and the wound is expected to heal completely”.

    Thankfully for this dog, the Darwin Animal Doctors team were there to look after him, and save his leg before the constriction progressed to necrosis. The team will keep an eye on Lourdes during the healing process, but he is expected to have a full recovery.

    Although this was a simple treatment, it was also a simple act that caused Lourdes so much pain and discomfort. If this injury was left untreated, the damaged to Lourdes right front paw could have been much worse.

    We are there for all animals when they need help. Help us, help them. Donate today.

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