A long walk back - Toast's 20-day recovery

When a mystery illness paralysed Clare McClintock's super-fit dog, Toast, it took 20 days in intensive care to get him back on his feet. Luckily, writes Amanda Riley-Jones, Petplan was there to help. From the PetPeople magazine archive

Toast, a New Zealand Huntaway-cross Collie, is 'the most good- natured companion', according to his owner Clare McClintock. 'Last July, we walked from our home in Devon to Land's End!' But one morning in September, Toast collapsed. 'His back legs were paralysed,' she adds.

When Toast was referred to a larger practice, Clare rang Petplan. 'They were very helpful and told us we had '£4,000 of cover,' she says.

However, Toast's breathing became laboured as she took him from one specialist to another. By 6pm, he was taken into intensive care at North Somerset's Langford Small Animal Hospital.

Blood tests revealed that severe toxic shock, perhaps from ingesting pesticide, had damaged his kidneys and liver. Thankfully, Toast's paralysis didn't worsen, but he developed aspiration pneumonia and an eye ulcer.

'After the first week, Toast's bill was already up to '£4,000,' Clare explains. 'The family had to club together to pay for the rest of his treatment.' Toast had an operation to treat the eye ulcer but still needed oxygen and intensive physiotherapy.

Unfortunately, his frail eye ruptured the next week. 'The ophthalmic surgeon was prepared to try a corneal transplant, but we made the hard decision to have Toast's eye removed as it was a simpler operation,' Clare says.

Afterwards, with more massage and physiotherapy, Toast was gradually weaned off oxygen as his lungs cleared and he was able to move his legs again. He went home after 20 long days, thin and hardly able to walk. 'But he was delighted to be back and managed really well with one eye,' says Clare.

Clare massaged his joints, took him for hydrotherapy treatment and increased his walking time by five minutes a day. He's now back to his ideal weight, and loving long walks and swims in the river.

'If I hadn't had insurance, I don't know how I would have managed,' says Clare. 'Thanks to Petplan, Toast had the best possible treatment from more than 20 professionals.'

The claims
Tests and x-rays: £250
Seven days' intensive care treatment, including diagnostic imaging and radiology: £3,750
Total Petplan paid: £4,000
Toast's premium was £21.47 per month.