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Dogs + Emergency Situations

  • Frostbite is the damage that is caused to the skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. The paws, ears, and tail are the most common tissues to be affected. Diagnosis is usually based on the dog's medical history and physical examination. If you suspect your dog has frostbite, you should seek medical attention immediately. Mild cases of frostbite usually resolve with little permanent damage, while more severe frostbite may result in permanent disfiguration or alteration of the affected tissues. In severe cases, some dogs require surgical removal of the necrotic tissue or amputation.

  • A gastropexy is a surgical procedure that is sometimes performed in large breed dogs to prevent the life-threatening condition, gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. This handout explains how the procedure works, how it is used as a preventative and in emergency situations, risk factors, and post-operative care.

  • Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which the pressure within the eye, called the intraocular pressure (IOP) is increased. Glaucoma is caused by inadequate drainage of aqueous fluid. It is classified as primary or secondary glaucoma. High intraocular pressure causes damage to occur in the retina and the optic nerve. Blindness can occur very quickly unless the increased IOP is reduced. Analgesics to control the pain and medications that decrease fluid production and promote drainage are often prescribed to treat glaucoma. The prognosis depends to a degree upon the underlying cause of the glaucoma.

  • Heatstroke is another term for hyperthermia. Dogs suffering from heatstroke can have varied signs from high respiratory rate to coma depending on how high their temperature is. Heat stroke is most often caused by a dog being left in a car without adequate ventilation; however, it can happen outside as well if the dog does not have access to shade or water. Dogs have difficulty with heat exchange as they only have a few sweat glands in their feet and mainly control heat exchange by panting. Because of this, brachycephalic dogs or muzzled dogs are at higher risk. Treatment for heat stroke requires controlled evaporative cooling with water and fans, intravenous fluids, sedation, and oxygen therapy. It is important to discontinue active cooling once the body temperature reaches 103°F or the dog can quickly become hypothermic. Prognosis depends on the extent and duration of temperature elevation. Some dogs recover normally but more severe cases will have permanent organ damage or may die from hyperthermia.

  • Urticaria, or hives, is a skin condition characterized by raised red skin welts caused by direct contact with a substance that causes an allergic reaction. These substances include insect bites, food, pollens, molds, vaccinations, and medications. If the swelling progresses to the throat, breathing can be compromised and result in a medical emergency called anaphylaxis. Injectable antihistamines and corticosteroids usually bring about a dramatic improvement, sometimes in as little as a few minutes.

  • There are many potential hazards that pets face especially during the holidays. With commonsense and planning exposure to these hazards can be avoided preventing or illness. Hazards include tinsel, electrical cords, string from meat, ribbons, Christmas tree water, holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly, and lilies, and foods such as chocolate and other human foods including bread dough. Some dogs will do better if given a safe space to stay away from company and may require calming remedies to help minimize anxiety and stress during the holidays.

  • If your pet had an emergency crisis, how would you manage it? Ask your veterinary hospital how they handle after-hour emergencies. Use this handout to help you plan ahead and be prepared in the event of a pet-health emergency.

  • Hypokalemia is a term that refers to a low blood concentration of potassium. Potassium is an important electrolyte within the body and is vital for the normal function of muscles and nerves. Mild to moderate hypokalemia often does not cause clinical sigs, but severe hypokalemia can result in generalized muscle weakness, lack of appetite, and some dogs may become constipated. The underlying cause of hypokalemia is often chronic kidney failure. Hypokalemia and its associated clinical signs may be quickly corrected by potassium supplementation. Depending on the cause, it may be necessary to continue supplementing potassium permanently.

  • Ibuprofen is commonly used to treat fever, pain, and inflammation in humans. Ibuprofen poisoning occurs when a dog ingests a toxic dose of ibuprofen, either through misuse or by accident. Most commonly in dogs, clinical signs related to irritation and ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract are observed including decreased appetite, vomiting (sometimes with blood), diarrhea, depression, abdominal pain, dark tarry stools, and bloody stools.

  • Icterus is also known as jaundice is an excessive accumulation of a yellow pigment in the blood and tissues, most easily seen in the gingivae and sclerae. Icterus can be caused by hemolysis, liver disease, or obstruction of the bile duct. Your veterinarian will perform screening tests to determine the root cause of icterus. Based on preliminary tests, your veterinarian may recommend fine needle aspiration, needle biopsy, or a surgical biopsy. Icterus will resolve once the underlying disease is identified and treated. The prognosis depends on the underlying cause.