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Dogs + Emergency Situations

  • Pancreas-specific lipase is a form of lipase produced only in the pancreas and is highly specific to the pancreas. Blood values increase only when there is pancreatic inflammation. A version of the cPLI test can now be used in-clinic (SNAP fPL© from IDEXX). Ideally, the sample should also be sent to the laboratory to get an actual value of cPLI to help with treatment and monitoring.

  • Penetrating wounds can look minor on the surface but may cause severe injury below the skin. A thorough assessment requires sedation or anesthesia and surgery may be required to address the extent of the injury. This handout outlines first aid steps a pet owner can take while transporting their injured pet to the veterinary hospital.

  • Pleural effusion refers to the abnormal accumulation of fluid within the chest cavity. The fluid is not found within the lungs, but instead within the pleural sac, essentially meaning the lungs are floating in a chest that is full of fluid. There are several causes, including chylothorax, heart failure, and lung or chest tumors. Dogs presenting for pleural effusion are often experiencing shortness of breath and decreased oxygen intake; placing them into an oxygen cage provides some degree of immediate relief. Removing the fluid that surrounds the lungs will allow the dog to breathe more readily and this fluid can then be tested to identify the cause of the pleural effusion. The treatment and prognosis vary depending on the underlying cause.

  • The definition of a pneumothorax is an accumulation of air outside the lungs, but inside the chest wall. The air outside the lung prevents the lungs from inflating normally, and can lead to lung collapse. There are several variations of pneumothorax.

  • Porcupines are the third largest rodent and live in many rural areas in North America. They are not aggressive, but they happily defend themselves, their offspring, and their dens if needed. Porcupine quills can puncture the skin and move through muscle, ultimately penetrating into body cavities and internal organs. Do not cut quills; cutting the shaft makes the quill splinter more easily which ultimately makes it harder to remove. Do not attempt to remove quills yourself. Seek immediate veterinary care if your dog is quilled. Sedation or anesthesia is required to remove quills safely. The best defense against porcupine quills is prevention. Avoid allowing the dogs to roam at dusk or after dark.

  • Pulmonary thromboembolism describes a condition when a blood clot lodges in one of the pulmonary arteries, blocking blood flow into the portion of the lung served by that artery. The signs of pulmonary thromboembolism include very sudden difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, decreased appetite, fainting, coughing, spitting up blood, weakness, exercise intolerance, and the inability to get comfortable. There are many important considerations and potential causes of pulmonary thromboembolism in dogs. Many dogs with thromboembolism are first treated as inpatients until the oxygen levels in their blood returns to normal. Once the dog returns home, it is important to restrict activity. There are some medications available for treating this disorder in dogs. The prognosis for dogs with pulmonary thromboembolism is generally guarded to poor, and it depends upon resolution of the underlying cause.

  • Pyometra is a serious and life-threatening infection in the uterus, occurring in female dogs who have not been spayed. The condition must be treated quickly and aggressively. The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the uterus and ovaries by performing an ovariohysterectomy. There is a medical approach to treating pyometra, although the success rate is highly variable and not without considerable risk and potential long-term complications.

  • Pyothorax occurs when pus or inflammatory fluids collect in the space around the lungs causing fever, anorexia, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. It is diagnosed through history, physical exam, radiographs, and thoracocentesis. Treatment with oral antibiotics is essential and may involve repeated thoracocentesis or the placement of a chest drain.

  • Sago Palms are pretty plants but beware—they pack a deadly punch for pets. The popular Sago Palm enhances outdoor landscapes in warmer areas of the U.S. and serves as indoor decor in many colder climates. All parts of the Sago Palm are poisonous, but the seeds (nuts) are the most toxic to pets. As with all poisoning cases, early detection and treatment increases the rate of success.

  • Seizures and syncope are commonly confused with one another due to similarities in the appearance of these episodes. Both present with collapse but there are several details, explained in this handout, that can differentiate between them, which is important for determining treatment. The prognosis for each condition varies depending on the underlying causes.