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Dogs + Emergency Situations

  • Icterus is also known as jaundice or yellow jaundice. It refers to an excessive accumulation of a yellow pigment in the blood and tissues. When icterus has been present for any length of time, it will discolor many tissues and will become visible as jaundice on most body surfaces, including the skin.

  • 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.

  • Many people and pets are sensitive to the proteins contained in the saliva or venom of biting insects. The most common clinical signs associated with an insect bite reaction include swelling and redness at the site of the bite, hives or multiple red, raised swellings over the body, a swollen face or muzzle, difficulty breathing and vomiting. Some patients will progress to severe respiratory distress and anaphylactic shock. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and history. Treatment typically consists of removal of the stinger or other insect parts, followed by administration of anti-histamines and anti-inflammatory agents, such as corticosteroids. Future insect bites should be avoided because many reactions worsen with repeated exposure to the offending proteins or toxins.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Penetrating wounds such as sticks, arrows, or gunshots can be life-threatening though the outer appearance of a wound may not seem as severe. Take immediate steps to calm your pet, stabilize any foreign body that is present, and get your pet to your veterinarian. Surgery may be necessary after your pet is stabilized.