A GADBROOK Park firm is leading a national trial to help detect deadly illnesses in dogs faster than any other method available.

Tom McGowan, small animal division partner at Willows Veterinary Group, is working on a breakthrough diagnostic blood test which can help vets make crucial decisions and deliver lifesaving treatment much earlier than before.

The revolutionary test detects the levels of CRP, a vital protein, released by the liver in dogs – with a high level indicating that a dog is suffering from systemic inflammation.

Tom, who is originally from Arkansas, USA, believes the new ‘marks a sea change’ in dog diagnostics.

“The new CRP test can tell us faster than any other diagnostic tool we have whether a dog is seriously ill or not,” he said.

“It tells us there is something going on which is seriously disrupting the dog’s whole body system.

“It prompts us to react instantly, to make key decisions and put the animal on life-saving treatment such as antibiotics straight away.”

The flagship Willows Veterinary Hospital, in Hartford, was the first clinic to be selected for the trial, which was developed by leading global firm IDEXX.

More than 200 dogs have been analysed at four Willows premises as part of the trial, and the CRP indicator highlighted those dogs with systemic inflammation much faster than other tests.

Until now, UK vets have relied heavily on analysis of a dog’s white cell blood count to see the extent of any inflammation, but white cell levels don’t change as quickly as CRP levels, so results are slower to determine.

Tom added: “The results were extraordinary, way beyond our expectations. This is absolutely a lifesaver.

“It has changed the way we practice in an instant. It does not pinpoint what exactly is wrong with a dog, nor determine if an animal has bacterial infection.

“But, very importantly, what it does do is alert us as to how much inflammation there is in the animal’s whole body system.”