Your Guide to Dog Emergencies - Page 7

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Your Guide to Dog Emergencies

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Laceration. Lacerations are common and are most often associated with some form of trauma. If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure over the wound with a clean cloth. Attempt this only if you are confident you can do it without being bitten by your frightened pet. Pressure will allow the smaller blood vessels to clot, and, therefore, stop the bleeding. The larger vessels will not clot with pressure alone, but will at least slow bleeding until you can get your pet to your veterinarian. You can use water from a hose or shower to gently flush large pieces of debris out of the wound. This should only be done if the wound is heavily contaminated with debris and there is a delay in getting your pet to your veterinarian. Cover the wound with another clean cloth (such as a clean towel), while transporting your pet. Do not allow your pet to lick at the wound. Most lacerations are sutured and many pets are given antibiotics depending on the nature of the wound.

Lameness/Limping. There are multiples causes of lameness ranging from minor sprains to severe fractures. The safest thing to do is to see your veterinarian for examination. If your pet is intermittently limping, keep him confined with minimal activity – no unrestricted running or jumping – and leash walks only to allow the pet to urinate and defecate. If lameness persists for more than 1 day, see your veterinarian for an examination to aid in determination of the cause. Never give medication without consulting with your veterinarian. Several over-the-counter medications that help people are dangerous or even toxic to pets.

Lethargy. Lethargy is a condition of drowsiness or indifference. If your pet is just not acting like himself, or if he does not seem as spry and peppy as normal, contact your veterinarian. Observe your pet's general activity and appetite. Call your veterinarian if lethargy continues, or if your pet's gums are pale, you notice vomiting , diarrhea, difficulty breathing or your pet won't eat.

Loss of Balance and Staggering. There are many different causes of staggering ranging from inner ear problems to weakness to toxin ingestion. Keep your pet calm and free of dangers such as stairs, swimming pools and sharp objects. See your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause.

Low Body Temperature. Hypothermia is a serious problem and health risk. Sick newborns can become markedly hypothermic even in a normal environment. It is important to keep these individuals warm, and possibly even monitor their rectal temperature. If you are suspicious that your dog may be suffering from hypothermia, contact your veterinarian at once. In the interim, use blankets to start the rewarming process. Do not leave your dog outside in freezing temperature for any length of time without access to shelter and warmth. If your pet's body temperature is less than 98 degrees, an immediate veterinary exam is highly recommended.

Maggots. Maggots are fly larva that often infest infected wounds. If caught early, the skin can be shaved and the maggots removed. Frequently, pet owners are unaware of the maggots due to the hair coat covering the affected area. Most maggot infestations should be examined and treated by a veterinarian. Keeping your pet groomed and healthy usually prevents maggot infestations since maggots prefer unhealthy skin.

Mammary Gland Swelling. Depending on the cause of the mammary gland (breast) swelling, treatment may not be necessary and the swelling may resolve on its own. In nursing mothers, puppies may need to be weaned. Limit stress and activity and apply warm water or cold water compresses applied to swellings can be helpful in some situations. You may need to consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. Treatment with antibiotics, pain medication or surgical excision of one or more glands may be recommended.

Open Wound. Any open wound has the potential to become an emergency situation. Prompt care can prevent a catastrophe. Use a clean towel and gentle pressure to control bleeding. If the area appears to be small and close to the skin surface, clip hair and clean with warm water. For larger wounds, wrap the area with a towel and tape and seek veterinary care. Despite initial home care, all wounds should be examined and treated by your veterinarian. Extensive damage can occur even if it appears as though there is only a small, minor puncture wound on the skin.

Oral Foreign Body. Pets with something stuck in their throat or mouth typically show significant signs of distress. They may paw at their mouth, rub their face on the floor and may even have difficulty breathing. If you suspect that your dog may have ingested something that may not pass from his mouth into the esophagus, contact your veterinarian. For pets with an object stuck in the throat blocking the airway, removal of that item immediately is crucial for your pet's survival. Some pets may begin choking. In this situation, the Heimlich maneuver may be necessary: place your arms around the animal's waist; close your hands together to make a fist and place the fist just behind the last rib; compress the abdomen by pushing up with this fist five times in rapid succession. Sometimes, sticks or other objects may become lodged between the upper teeth across the hard palate. In these situations, removal of the object usually resolves the situation.

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