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Dogs + Emergency Situations

  • One of the more common and potentially life-threatening conditions seen in veterinary practice is foreign body obstruction. Some foreign bodies pass through the intestinal tract, but if an obstruction occurs, surgical removal of the blocked object is the only treatment. Clinical signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. X-rays are typically performed to diagnose foreign bodies. The prognosis is variable depending upon multiple factors.

  • Bee stings and bites from spiders, fleas, and ticks are the most common causes of insect bite reactions in pets. Insect bites can cause mild to severe allergic reactions in many dogs. Fortunately, most reactions are minor and have an excellent prognosis for recovery. Treatment typically involves antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • The lens is the transparent structure within the eye that focuses light on the retina. The lens can fall backwards into the eye known as a posterior luxation, where it rarely causes discomfort, or it can fall forwards into the eye, called an anterior luxation. Anterior luxation blocks the drainage of fluid from the eye resulting in glaucoma or increased intra-ocular pressure (IOP). An anterior (forward) luxation is an emergency and can lead to further complications such as glaucoma and blindness. Surgery can help preserve vision if done promptly, but ultimately some cases may lead to removal of the entire eye. If the lens luxates posteriorly, or falls into the back of the eye, it causes little or no discomfort. These cases may not require any treatment.

  • Early decontamination including induction of vomiting and activated charcoal administration can be performed by your veterinarian to recover and prevent absorption of macadamia nuts if ingestion is discovered prior to onset of clinical signs. Supportive therapies are provided for symptomatic dogs including intravenous (IV) fluids, pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-nausea medications. Dogs with mild clinical signs can be treated without hospitalization.

  • Meningitis refers to inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Causes include bacterial infection, viral infection, fungal infection, protozoal infection, aberrant parasite migration, or immune-mediated disease. A CSF tap is the most accurate way to diagnose meningitis, though CT and MRI may also be beneficial. Treatment and prognosis vary, depending upon the underlying cause.

  • Metaldehyde toxicity occurs when a dog (or, less commonly, a cat) eats slug bait that contains metaldehyde. The signs of metaldehyde toxicity include vomiting, anxiety, ataxia (due to muscle incoordination), stiffness, muscle tremors, elevated heart rate and respiratory rate, increased salivation, and increased sensitivity to touch. These signs often progress to continuous muscle tremors and seizures. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and history. There is no antidote to metaldehyde; treatment is centered upon decontamination and supportive care. Prognosis is good with aggressive treatment.

  • Mushroom toxicity can run the gamut from irritating illness to severe toxicity to death. The species of mushroom and amount ingested determine the severity of the toxicity. Since mushrooms are difficult to identify, it is best to discourage your pet from eating any mushrooms growing in the wild. In the event of mushroom ingestion, prompt treatment is critical to successful treatment. Pet owners need to be alert to the possibility of mushroom toxicity and work to eliminate their pet’s access to mushrooms.

  • Besides making your dinner taste great, onions, garlic, leeks and chives can instigate severe medical problems for your dog. Although clinical signs of illness can occur soon after your dog eats the veggies, symptoms may take days to appear.

  • House paint, art paint, varnishes and other decorative or protective solvents come in many varieties, and most are dangerous to dogs and cats. Water-based paints, the most common, include latex, tempera, and poster paints.

  • The pancreas is a vital organ that produces enzymes to assist in food digestion and hormones such as insulin, which regulates blood sugar or glucose metabolism. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Common clinical signs include decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Diagnosis is generally made with laboratory testing and/or abdominal ultrasound. Successful pancreatitis management will depend on early diagnosis and prompt medical therapy. The prognosis depends on the severity of the disease and the response to initial therapy.