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All Posts in Category: Trauma or Bites

PODCAST: Pets and Snake Bites — Act Quickly!

During the warm-weather months, our slithery, venomous snake friends become more active. And snake bites are a very common problem in the summertime. Our pets are very curious creatures and tend to lead with their noses and their front limbs, so that’s where we see the most bites (on the face and front legs). These bites often cause extreme pain, swelling and bruising, and that’s typically what you as an owner will notice first, if you don’t happen to see the snake itself. You may also see puncture marks that may be bleeding or oozing.

© 2011 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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Cats and Abscesses: Don’t Let Them Go Untreated!

Abscesses are a serious condition that warrant treatment — and frankly, they are pretty fun to treat. At Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, we generally see abscesses in our feline patients who spend time outdoors socializing with other neighborhood cats and creatures, since abscesses are usually caused by a bite from another animal. We tend see to them on the back part of a cat’s body, although they can occur anywhere. Typically, a cat will receive such a bite while running away from a predator — and trying to escape a potentially much more serious injury (or worse).

Because most cats are furry, a puncture wound or bite wound will typically be covered by hair, so it will be difficult to spot. And when your cat returns home, it likely will resume its normal activity (eating and sleeping), so you probably won’t suspect a thing. But after a bite, there’s often trouble brewing beneath your cat’s skin.

Bite wounds frequently cause small punctures where bacteria from the predator’s teeth are having a grand old time. The skin wound seals up, and the bacteria continue to multiply and fester below the skin surface. About four days after a bite takes place, you may start to notice that your kitty’s appetite is diminished, or that it doesn’t want to come out from under a bed. In short, your cat just may not be acting like its normal, happy self.

At this point, your cat needs to see a veterinarian. Most cats with an abscess will have a fever — and if left untreated, a simple ailment can spiral out of control and become a much larger, more serious medical issue. Dehydration is also common in these cases, since cats who are feeling crummy tend not to eat and drink as they should.

At Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, in this kind of situation, a full physical exam will be performed on your pet, and an estimate will be presented to you before any treatments are carried out. Generally in this circumstance, your cat will need to be sedated for treatment, and the abscess will need to be lanced. The wound will be flushed out, and often a drain will be surgically placed so that the wound does not seal right back up. The wound will need to drain for 2-3 days, after which time the drain can be removed by your family veterinarian.

Antibiotics and sometimes pain medication will be dispensed to take care of the infection and treat your cat’s discomfort. We often offer an injectable antibiotic that lasts for 2 weeks, in order to keep you from the hassles of trying to get your cat to take an antibiotic pill or liquid at home.

Recovery from an abscess generally takes a few days, but your cat should perk up and want to eat and drink normally within 24-48 hours. If at that point your kitty still isn’t feeling up to snuff, a recheck exam should be scheduled as soon as possible.

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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Pets and Snake Bites: Act Quickly!

As the weather warms, our slithery, venomous snake friends become more active. And snake bites are a very common problem in the summertime. Our pets are very curious creatures and tend to lead with their noses and their front limbs, so that’s where we see the most bites (on the face and front legs). These bites often cause extreme pain, swelling and bruising, and that’s typically what you as an owner will notice first, if you don’t happen to see the snake itself. You may also see puncture marks that may be bleeding or oozing.

What should you do if you suspect your pet has been bitten?
Bring him/her in immediately to your veterinarian or to Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. Besides being extremely painful, snake bites can cause skin sloughing, shock, dangerously low blood pressure, bleeding abnormalities, and — in rare cases — death. Upon your pet’s arrival at the clinic, we will likely clean the wound; start medical therapy to make your pet feel more comfortable and maintain blood pressure; and perform diagnostics, including blood tests. Often, your pet will need to stay in the hospital for a short time, depending on the severity of the injury. Most snake bites in our area do not require anti-venom, however.

Although snake bites are very painful and can have very serious consequences, most pets do very well with prompt treatment — so if you suspect your pet has been bitten, act quickly to bring them in. Keep your pet as calm as possible. And if you see the snake, remember what it looked like, but DO NOT PICK IT UP! It can bite you, too!

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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Dog Emergency — Impaled!

One of my most unusual cases was a Golden Retriever who walked into the hospital chewing on the end of a stick that was lodged under its skin. The owner had called in advance to say that her dog had impaled itself on a stick, and I was imagining a small puncture that I would need to clip and clean, and then maybe administer some antibiotics. Well, she called back prior to arrival to say that it was actually a big stick. Still, I had no idea what was about to walk in.

This was no ordinary stick — it was about 2 feet long and 1.5 inches in diameter, and entered under the skin right by the front limb and exited by the tail. Oddly enough, not showing any obvious signs of pain, the dog walked in wagging its tail and chewing on the stick, looking at me as if it wanted to play fetch. I took a radiograph just to make sure that there was no surprise chest penetration, and then took the pup off to surgery. There was no muscle involvement whatsoever, and the stick was easily removed, after which the wound was lavaged and sutured. Truly a bizarre case, with a happy outcome, and a testament to some of the predicaments our pets can get into. My only regret is not having had a digital camera that day!

Dr. Elvira Hoskins

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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When dogs attack …

When dogs get into a fight, it is very often a big dog attacking a smaller dog. This occurs so often, in fact, that the veterinary community has a widely recognized acronym for it — BDLD, which stands for “Big Dog-Little Dog” — and it almost always results in an emergency situation.

When your dog plays with a rope toy, he might grab it and shake it vigorously in his mouth. Unfortunately, this is also what most dogs do with the smaller dogs they attack. Besides the more obvious puncture wounds the smaller dog receives from the teeth, there are also often more serious, unseen injuries: brain and spinal cord injuries, and severe damage to internal organs. BDLD injuries are sometimes compared to an iceberg: The bigger, serious problems often lie below the surface. While external injuries may appear minor, the power of a dog’s biting jaw can cause serious internal injuries that may result in the loss of your pet — especially if you don’t act quickly to get them proper veterinary care. In addition, the crushing forces of its jaws can also cause micro-damage to the blood vessels in the skin, causing the blood supply to the surrounding area to be compromised. Bruising will almost always develop a few days after the injury, and it is very common for the skin immediately surrounding the puncture wounds to die. Intense wound care is needed as quickly as possible, until the body can heal the wound on its own. This can sometimes require many weeks of care and sometimes also requires additional surgery.

“Juno,” a Toy Poodle, came to Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital one evening after being attacked by a neighbor’s dog. She had some obvious puncture wounds to her neck and and abdomen, but despite having just been attacked, Juno was bright and alert, and even wagging her tail!

Juno’s owner thought that her dog just needed some pain medication and antibiotics. But after counseling her on the seriousness of Juno’s injuries, the owner agreed to let us take some X-rays. It was obvious from the X-rays that Juno’s puncture wounds had pierced her intestines, which were now leaking gas and fluid into her belly, and emergency surgery was needed.

Thankfully, Juno’s owner consented to the surgery. Multiple parts of Juno’s intestines had been punctured, and infection had already begun to set in. Her neck wounds were also explored, and a small nick in her jugular vein was detected. All of Juno’s injuries were repaired, and she stayed in the hospital to receive pain medication, fluids and antibiotics until she could be transferred to her family veterinarian. And Juno went on to make a full recovery.

Had it not been for the quick actions of Juno’s owners and the staff at Greenbrier, Juno surely would have succumbed to her wounds. This is also a perfect example of how deceptively brave little dogs can be, despite having suffered very serious injuries or illness — just because your dog may look and act fine after a run-in with another dog, do not assume he or she is fine. Quick response and a thorough examination are always required in these situations!

As a side note, to avoid BDLD confrontations, it is recommended that you always keep both your large and small dogs on a leash at all times when in public.

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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