Thanks to all of you (more than 100) who responded to the emergency version of “Are You Smarter Than a Vet Student.” The names of two participants were drawn to receive a signed copy of Speaking for Spot or Your Dog’s Best Health. The two lucky winners are Jan Gribble from Socorro, New Mexico and Carrie Ann Cassidy who resides in Pinckney, Michigan and writes a blog called “Bichon Frise Owner”. Congratulations Jan and Ann!
Below, you will find the correct answers (in bold font) to the questions I challenged you with last week. I’ve also included some explanations. Please let me know if you disagree with any of them- I’m always open to debate!
1. You’ve just arrived home after a long day at work to find two vials containing two of your own prescription heart medications spilled on the bathroom floor and it is clear that several of the pills are missing. All three of your dogs greet you with smiles on their faces. What should you do?
a. Do some “watchful waiting” to see which dog, if any, develops symptoms.
b. Head to your local veterinary emergency clinic with the pill vials, the remaining pills, and the dog who has always been the gluttonous troublemaker.
c. Head to a veterinary emergency clinic with the pill vials, the remaining pills, and all three dogs. Any time there is the possibility that a toxin has been ingested, immediate action should be taken. The sooner the animal is treated, typically the better the outcome. Treatment often consists of inducing vomiting (home therapy with hydrogen peroxide produces inconsistent results), treating the intestinal tract to prevent further absorption of the toxin, and using intravenous fluids to help flush the toxin out of the body. It is always better to be safe than sorry which is why all three dogs should be evaluated. Perhaps the “gluttonous troublemaker” ate the majority of the spilled pills, but the other two dogs ingested just enough to cause problems for them as well.
d. Use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in all three dogs.
2. The following is not a true veterinary emergency:
a. Your dog or cat is suddenly having difficulty using both hind legs.
b. Your dog or cat vomited and the vomited material contains fresh blood.
c. Your dog suddenly began favoring one hind leg while cavorting at the dog park. Whether or not the lameness is treated right away or a few days down the road is very unlikely to make a difference in the overall outcome. When it comes to antifreeze toxicity, partial paralysis of the hind legs caused by a stroke like event or slipped disk, or damage to the lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract, the sooner the animal receives medical care, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome.
d. You observed your dog or cat licking from a puddle of spilled antifreeze.
3. Seizures in pets are not caused by:
a. Inappropriate use of a flea control product.
b. Ingestion of marijuana. Marijuana causes profound sedation in dogs which is often accompanied by urine dribbling (For a good laugh on this topic read “Busted!”. Dogs do not experience seizures (or the munchies) after eating marijuana. Inappropriate use of flea control products (for example, using a canine flea control product on a cat) can cause profound neurological symptoms including seizures. When dogs ingest xylitol, the sweetener contained in most sugarfree gums, the result is a very low blood sugar level which can cause seizures. Lastly, snail bait contains metaldehyde, a compound that is toxic for dogs and causes neurological symptoms including seizures.
c. Ingestion of snail bait.
d. Ingestion of sugarfree gum.
4. After parking your car in a large shopping mall lot on a very hot day you notice that a dog has been left in a neighboring car. The car windows are cracked open and the doors are locked. The dog is panting, but looks bright and alert. What should you do?
a. Head into the shopping center to convey your concerns to someone affiliated with mall management.
b. Break into the car.
c. Call 911. This is my preferred answer, given the fact that I purposefully indicated that you parked in a large shopping mall. At a smaller business, it might be reasonable to locate the car owner before calling 911. I will also add that, if the dog in the locked car appeared to be in rough shape and there was not time to wait, I would not hesitate to bust into the car. Lastly, if and when you encounter the owner of the car, I wholeheartedly encourage you to address the individual with a modicum of respect. This is an opportunity for education with hopes that the situation will never be repeated.
d. Hang out and wait until the owner of the car returns.
5. Your dog Angel was hit by a car and you immediately transport her to a nearby veterinary emergency clinic, one which you have never been to before. Clearly one of Angel’s legs is broken, she is in pain, and she is experiencing labored breathing. In the rush to get her to the emergency clinic, you forgot to bring along any form of payment to leave a deposit for her care. What is the veterinary staff obligated to do?
a. Hospitalize Angel for observation, but delay beginning any diagnostics or treatment until you return with your deposit.
b. Provide all emergency care necessary to attempt to stabilize Angel’s condition until you return with a deposit.
c. Provide pain medication as needed until you return with a deposit.
d. answers b and c. Do your best to grab a form of payment before you sail out the door, but if you do happen to arrive at the emergency clinic with empty pockets, fear not. The veterinary staff is obligated to do whatever is necessary to relieve pain and stabilize your dog in terms of any issues that are imminently life threatening until you return with payment. Keep in mind, we are talking about your return in a reasonable amount of time.
6. It is Sunday afternoon and your pet Smokey appears suddenly unable to see. Other than appearing somewhat disoriented and bumping into things, he appears quite normal. You should:
a. Plan to call your family veterinary hospital first thing in the morning to schedule an appointment for Smokey to be evaluated.
b. Take Smokey to a veterinary emergency right away. If Smokey’s sudden blindness is caused by glaucoma (increased pressure within the eyes) or detached retinas, immediate therapy is often necessary to restore vision. Postponing therapy by as little as 12 hours may result in permanent blindness.
c. Monitor Smokey at home for a few days to see if the vision loss goes away or any other symptoms develop.
d. Go on line to research the potential causes of blindness.
7. Your dog Ralphie receives a regimen of medications for his chronic skin allergies, kidney failure, and diabetes. It is Sunday morning and he has refused his breakfast and is vomiting. You pack him up to take him to the emergency clinic. Besides little Ralphie, what else should you bring?
a. All of Ralphie’s current medications.
b. A copy of Ralphie’s medical records.
c. Ralphie’s current diet.
d. All of the above. With issues as complicated as Ralphie has, the emergency doc will be able to do a much better job if he or she has access to all of his medical information. Keep in mind, your family veterinary clinic will very likely be closed on a Sunday morning- no one will be there to fax or email over Ralphie’s medical records. This is why it is important for you to keep an updated copy of your pet’s medical records on hand- just in case you find yourselves at an emergency clinic on a Sunday morning.
8. Your dog Dexter was just involved in a dog fight at the dog park. He appears just fine other than multiple small puncture wounds on his legs and face. He has already returned to playing with the other dogs. What should you do?
a. Continue to let Dexter play.
b. Take your dog home right away to wash the wounds.
c. Have your dog examined by a veterinarian right away. Although the puncture wounds appear small, guaranteed there is a lot of traumatic crushing of tissue that has occurred beneath the skin surface. Additionally, those bite wounds inoculated plenty of bacteria deep under the skin. These two factors combine to create the perfect storm for infection to develop. The puncture wounds should be thoroughly evaluated by a veterinarian and antibiotics prescribed just as soon as possible. Pain medications may also be dispensed. The adrenaline released during a dog fight often initially masks the pain. Within hours, those dog fight wounds will likely be a source of considerable discomfort.
d. Contact your attorney.
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.