Tales from the Veterinary ER by Dr. Alana Kestelman

Photo reference: http://forum.greytalk.com

The first five years of my career were spent working in a busy veterinary 24 hour emergency hospital. I saw it all – broken bones, wounds, toxicities, etc. I learned many lessons practicing emergency medicine. My goal, now that I work as a general practitioner, is to impart these pearls of wisdom to my clients so I can help your keep your fur babies healthy, and out of the ER.

He Ate What?!?!

Meet Jaxon. A 4 year old Bernese Mountain Dog Cross. Jaxon’s daddy called one night at 9:30pm. “Hi. I’m sorry to bother you. I’m not sure if this is a problem. I’ve read conflicting things online so I decided to call you. My dog ate 10 raw hamburger patties about 1 hour ago. He seems fine but I wasn’t sure if it was dangerous.” So what do you think? Are 10 raw meat patties dangerous? The answer: it depends, so call your veterinarian. In Jaxon’s case, it wasn’t the raw beef that was dangerous. It was the 2 raw onions that the owner had shredded into his beef mixture. Onions are toxic. The owner hadn’t even thought about the onions. He was worried about the beef!

Here is a list of common human foods and household items that are toxic to your pets. By no means is this list complete. If you have any question, learn from Jaxon’s owner, call your veterinarian. Common toxicities include: alcohol, xylitol (sugar-free gum), grapes/raisins, chocolate, onions, zinc (diaper cream), rat poison, Tylenol, anti-freeze, and a wide variety of flowers and plants. Please call as soon as the ingestion is noted. Time is of the essence. The faster vomiting can be induced, the better the outcome for your pet.

Sticks and Stones May Break Your…

Many pet parents buy bones for their pets to chew on. While it seems like a yummy treat for your dog, bones have the potential to cause many problems and land your pet in the ER. Bones can splinter and cause abscesses in the mouth. Teeth can fracture while chewing on a bone and need to be removed. Marrow bones can get lodged around the jaw and need to be removed with a bone cutter. Sticks can get lodged in the upper palate. Small bones can be ingested but become obstructed in the gastrointestinal tract and require surgical removal. Please watch your pet very closely when giving bones and take them away when they get too small. Or better yet, don’t tempt fate and buy rubber indestructible chew toys or dental treats that dissolve in stomach acid.

It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Eats a Toy

I have surgically removed many things from many stomachs and intestines: socks, underwear, gloves, rocks, kids toys, foam pieces, rope, carpet, string/yarn, bouncy balls, chunks of tennis ball, and I could keep going. Not all toys are created equal. Some toys will last your pet forever and some toys will be destroyed in 5 minutes flat. My biggest piece of advice is to always supervise your pet when it is playing with a new toy and please remember to put your dirty laundry away in a basket with a lid. Some toys are certified indestructible and the company will give you your money back if your dog destroys them. These are the only toys I allow my dog to play with. I have cut too many toys out of dogs’ and cats’ gastrointestinal tracts to tempt fate with my own fur baby.

My Little Runaway

Hospital wide intercom announcement: “We have a hit by car coming in! 5 minutes out. Large breed dog. All hands on deck. Get the stretcher ready.” Every ER vet’s worst nightmare.

From fractures to respiratory distress from bleeding in the lungs, accidents involving a moving car can be devastating. Here are some tips to keep your dog safe. Keep your pet on a leash and keep that leash at a maximum length of 6ft. Also, if you do go to off leash dog parks, please ensure that the park is fully fenced in. Teach your dog a recall command, and ensure that it is reliably consistent. Lastly, neutering your male dog will decrease their desire to run off. As a pet owner, I love to watch my dog run free and frolic, but having witnessed the devastation first hand has caused me to be more cautious in my choice of situations and locations.

Your pet is a beloved member of the family. An important part of my job is to arm you with as much information as possible to keep your animal safe. If you run into trouble, please call us at Coxwell Animal Clinic. We will provide you with whatever information we can to help guide you through the situation. If it is outside of our business hours, call one of the city’s fantastic emergency hospitals. They exist to help you, when we cannot. The world can be a dangerous place…keep yourself armed with accurate information and be smart out there!

Stay tuned for more tales from the ER!