By the AAHA Practice Accreditation team
"Veterinary emergencies are going to happen, and we have to be prepared for anything and everything,” explains Anna Brock Miller, CVT, from Upstate Veterinary Specialists in Greenville, S.C.
She recalls Sydney, a five-year-old female Labradoodle who ate a gingerbread house during the holidays. Unfortunately, the house was put together with metal pins. Sydney was referred to their emergency practice, where an initial examination was performed and radiographs (X-rays) were taken. They did an abdominal exploratory surgery and removed 60 to 80 pins from her stomach. Luckily, Sydney did well and went home the next day.
AAHA-accredited hospitals are required to be prepared to respond to emergencies. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, and some require a referral to specialty or emergency practices that are equipped to handle unique or extreme cases. In Sydney’s case, she was referred to an emergency practice that was open and set up to deal with her unique situation.
Providing round-the-clock emergency services or referrals is just one standard that sets AAHA-accredited practices apart from other veterinary hospitals. To become accredited, practices are evaluated on the basis of 900 standards for delivery of quality patient care.
Tinsel and/or yarn can be a fun toy, but a few minutes of fun can result in severe consequences for your cat or dog. Many times, you may not know what your pet ate until you see it coming out of its back end. And, if you do see it, never pull it out. You don’t how much or how long the foreign body is, and if you pull on it, it can tangle or tear the colon or intestines.
Always see your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet has ingested a foreign body. Many times, your veterinarian can take a radiograph or use an endoscope (a flexible device that is inserted into the stomach or intestines) to determine if and what your pet has consumed.
Miller recalls a second holiday case, Nigel, a nine-month-old male Dandie Dinmont terrier that was also referred to their emergency practice. Nigel’s symptoms were acute vomiting overnight, lethargy, and lack of appetite. The owners realized the dog was eating an ornament from the tree.
Other things that can be dangerous around the holidays
- Raisins/grapes (also fruitcake)
- Turkey bones
The hospital took radiographs and did preoperative blood work, then performed abdominal exploratory surgery during which several pieces of rubber were found in the intestine. Fortunately again, Nigel recovered and went home a few days later.
Be aware of what you’re putting under the tree. That package from Aunt Betty may contain something that your pet just can’t resist. When you think that a dog’s ability to smell is about 100 times better than ours, you’ll realize that your dog is probably smelling that box of candy from the backyard. Many holiday treats, foods, and plants can be toxic or even lethal to pets. It’s always a good idea to keep your veterinarian’s phone number close to the phone (or programmed in your cell phone) just in case you need to make that call.
For more tips on keeping your pets safe during the holiday season, read this article.
Terri L. Johnson, MSS, CVT, is an AAHA practice accreditation coordinator.