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All Posts Tagged: Pets

Skunks: P.U. — Stinky!

The skunk: an easily identifiable, cute, black-and-white animal (also known as polecats by some) with a nasty spray. Here at Greenbrier we receive numerous calls from clients about what to do when they find a skunk on their property, or when their pet (usually a dog) has been sprayed in the face.

Luckily the majority of skunk-sprayed animals will be fine, except for having a potent smell for days or even more than a week. After being sprayed, most pets will act as if they have been blinded and will have increased tear production and often a generalized red color to the eyes. Often a pet in this condition will paw at its face and nose. The best first step to treatment is rinsing the pet’s eyes with saline solution — the same solution used for contact lenses.

The next thing to do is attempt “de-skunk” the smell of your pet. Despite many rumors, tomato juice DOES NOT do the trick, and using this method will merely leave you with an animal that smells like both skunk and tomato juice. The best thing to use is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap or dish detergent, with the following recipe:

  • 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap or dish detergent

Mix the three ingredients and apply liberally while washing your dog, then rinse with fresh water. You can repeat the washing several times and let the solution sit on the dog for 5-10 minutes each time. Unfortunately, the mixture is not stable once it is combined, so you will need to make a new solution each day you apply it. Be very careful to avoid getting the solution in your pet’s eyes, and try to keep your pet from drinking it (although drinking it will only upset his/her stomach, but likely will not do any real harm).

If you think there is any chance the skunk could have bitten your pet (especially if your pet killed the skunk), we recommend a rabies booster vaccine. Rabies is not spread through the spray, but generally only through saliva and blood. Your daytime vet can boost your pet’s rabies vaccine if you are concerned, as this is not generally an emergency.

Skunks are most active at night and move slowly. They are attracted to outside pet food bowls (just like raccoons and opossums), open garbage containers, and unsealed compost piles — so try to get rid of these kinds of attractions or protect/cover them, if possible. If you let your pet outside at night, use a leash if you suspect a skunk is on your property. Skunks usually try to give plenty of warning prior to spraying, so if you see one outside or startle one during a walk, you may have time to get away prior to being sprayed. Even baby skunks as young as 8 days can spray, so avoid the impulse to get too close, regardless of how cute they may seem. Skunks are active most of the year, but usually more so in the warmer months. While not true hibernators, they can go through a dormant stage for several weeks during cold weather.

A condition known as skunk toxic shock syndrome, which is VERY rare, occurs when some of the compounds in a skunk’s spray (thioacetates) destroy a pet’s healthy red blood cells. An animal experiencing this syndrome initially presents with weakness and pale gums and progresses to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and anemia. While very rare, keep this syndrome in mind if your pet develops these symptoms hours or days after being sprayed, and have him/her examined by your regular veterinarian.

Hopefully this information will prove helpful if your animal is sprayed by a skunk, and it might even save you an unnecessary trip to the emergency room.

© 2013 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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Red Eye in Pets

Red, irritated eyes are common presenting complaints in emergency veterinary medicine. To help narrow down the cause of the redness, at Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital we typically ask pet owners a series of questions, since eye problems can occur for many different reasons. For instance: Did your pet recently run through a field or play with a cat? Has your pet been around other pets? Is your pet having any other problems? Did this redness just start to appear, or has it been around and getting worse over time?

Some causes are more obvious than others. Playing with a cat, playing rough with a dog or running through heavy brush normally indicates trauma (a scratch) and potentially an ulcer on the cornea, the clear covering of the eye. When the cornea is injured, it can cause a large amount of pain and lead to serious complications, and such an event might also result in having a foreign object lodged in the eye.

But there are other causes of eye redness as well. Infections (bacterial, viral and fungal); inflammation of the tissues around or in the eye; increased or decreased pressure of the eye (known as glaucoma, and uveitis, respectively); systemic diseases; autoimmune diseases; decreased tear production; allergies; problems with intraocular structures (such as the iris and the lens); and even cancer can also lead to red eye.

So if your pet has red, irritated, teary eyes, or is squinting, give your primary care veterinarian or Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital a call as soon as possible. We can perform a variety of tests to determine the cause of the irritation and prescribe medications to help your pet feel more comfortable and treat the problem. One important note: Do not allow your pet to scratch at his or her eyes if he/she is suffering from red eye — scratching will only make it worse. You can use an e-collar, otherwise known as “the cone that goes around your pet’s head,” to deter them from scratching. And don’t wait to bring your pet in! Some eye problems can become very serious if left unattended.

© 2011 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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Sock Snacks Can Be Dangerous for Your Dog!

They say things come in threes, and for me lately it’s been dogs who eat socks. In one month, I have had three such cases. While it might seem rather harmless for a dog to eat a sock, it can actually cause serious problems if the sock passes from the stomach into the small intestines. One of my patients came into the clinic in shock from vomiting. He was in terrible shape when he arrived, so we gave him shock doses of fluids and took a radiograph, which showed that he had an obstruction in his small intestines. We prepped for surgery, and as we were moving him in, he postured for a bowel movement and pooped a sock out! We were all so happy, but imagine how happy the owner was to get the phone call that we did not have to go into surgery!

My second case was not so lucky and had to have a red knee-high sock surgically removed — but he recovered well.

The third case was a bit more of a mystery. An owner came in with a pup who was, apparently, a chronic sock eater. The owner had seen the dog run down the stairs with something in its mouth, and then the dog rapidly swallowed whatever the object was. Since the dog had a history with snacking on socks, thankfully the owner reacted quickly and brought him into the clinic. The dog was stable and acting fine, but to find out what he’d ingested, we decided to give him an injection to make him throw up — and up came a blue sock!

We would come to learn that all three of these dogs had actually eaten socks on prior occasions, but had been lucky enough to throw them up without treatment. So dogs can be repeat offenders when it comes to sock snacking. The moral of the story is: Don’t leave socks lying around where your dog can get to them. Something as simple as a wayward sock can actually get your pup into a dangerous situation. But if you do suspect that your dog has eaten a sock, be sure to get them to the veterinary hospital as quickly as possible.

Dr. Elvira Hoskins

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

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