I did the easy part. I put a cast on "Moose's" hairline tibial fracture, dispensed him lots of good pain medications and kissed him on the head. I reminded his mom to bring him back next week to have his leg examined to be sure the cast doesn't need to be changed. After all, he's going to grow A LOT and that cast could get too small.
Finally, I gave his mom strict instructions to be sure he "rests' for 4-6 weeks while his fracture heals ("No running, jumping, playing or access to stairs" - said my discharge instructions). As I closed the door to the exam room, I thought, "How in the world is this lovely woman going to get a 13 week old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy to "rest" for a month and a half?!?
I've diagnosed plenty of orthopedic injuries in dogs from torn ligaments in knees to back problems from bulging discs to fractured bones. But I've never actually had to LIVE with a dog who is healing from this type of injury and requires exercise restriction or cage rest for long periods of time.
For pet parents who have had to keep their pet confined as they heal from an injury, what are YOUR tips for keeping them calm and comfortable for weeks on end, without losing your mind?
Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
Please comment below.
There are three kinds of scenarios with heatstroke. Two you’ve heard of, one you haven’t. The one you haven’t, is by far, the most common kind.
Vehicular Heatstroke - Everyone knows the dangers of leaving your pet (or tragically, a child), in a hot car either accidentally or with the windows half-heartedly cracked. So leave your pets at home when you’re running errands. Check out this clip from Dr. Ernie Ward showing how quickly your car heats up and for all you parents out there, visit Ray Ray’s Pledge, created by her loving parents, in memory of a sweet little girl who succumbed to vehicular heatstroke.
For these next two causes of heat stroke, there is one point you need to understand.
DOGS DON’T SWEAT.
They cool down by panting. If a dog can’t pant efficiently, then they can’t cool down efficiently. They use passage of air over the moist surfaces of their tongue, mouth and airway to cool through evaporation.
To oversimplify, they sweat in their mouth.
Brachycephalic Heatstroke – Ask any the owner of a Bulldog/Pug/Boston or other brachycephalic (squishy-faced) dog and they will tell you the same thing. Their dog does NOT handle the heat well, because they have a hard time breathing. They snarffle or sound like they are perpetually snoring. The combination of the extra tissue in the back of their mouths (elongated soft palate), everted “tonsils” (laryngeal saccules), narrow nostrils (stenotic nares) and a narrow windpipe (trachea), means they cannot effectively cool down. These breeds are profoundly fragile in the heat and humidity. They are best kept in an air conditioned home during the summer, with walks in the early morning and late evening, at the coolest times of the day.
Laryngeal Paralysis Heatstroke – This is the one you HAVEN’T heard of and is by far, the MOST COMMON CAUSE OF HEAT STROKE. It occurs primarily in older, large breed especially Labs, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Pitbulls. Their airway weakens and begins to function more like that of a Brachycephalic dog. More specifically, the larynx, which functions to control the opening of the airway loses it’s ability to open and close like it did before. With the hot air trapped inside the dog, these older big guys become just as fragile as a bulldog. BUT THEIR OWNERS AREN’T AWARE THIS HAS HAPPENED!!!
Does your dog sound like this when he/she breathes?
Here are the signs your dog may have laryngeal paralysis (lar par):
· Change in bark (more hoarse or high pitched)
· New sounds of snoring when sleeping
· Loud panting, even when it’s relatively cool outside
· Coughing/hacking after eating
There is a surgery to treat laryngeal paralysis. Discuss it with your veterinarian but click here to see a dramatic "Before and After" clip.
For every 1 "Hot Bulldog” or "Dog-Trapped-in-a-Hot -Car”, I see
10 dogs with Laryngeal Paralysis.
If you notice any of these signs above in your older, large breed dog, PLEASE take them to your vet so they can evaluate your dog’s airway. Until you’ve done that:
It ends like this. A happy dog with a happy new owner. A picture taken in the yard of the foster family, who tearfully hands him over to his new family. Without the selfless dedication of dozens of volunteers along the "Underground Railroad of Shelter Dogs", this picture never would've been taken.
One month ago, this could have been him. He was waiting in Monongalia County Canine Shelter, West Virginia when a woman I will never meet, who works with northern rescue groups found him and scooped him up. He was cowering on the floor of his cage and even though she didn't know where he'd go, she brought him to her home to await a northern foster home. This is where the "Underground Railroad" of Shelter Dogs kicked it. A New Jersey-based group, called Roger's Rescues got involved and agreed to foster him until he could find his forever home.
A veterinarian I'll never know, from Paw Prints Veterinary Clinic in West Virginia, along with a team of technicians, neutered, heartworm tested, vaccinated and dewormed him.
This was the first picture I saw of him, in his cone, after the neuter.
After recovering from his surgery, volunteers drove him and other dogs, in a van similar to this one, over 400 miles from West Virginia to Flemington, NJ, where he met his foster mom, Beth. She had visited my home the week prior to for a home visit, part of the application process for Roger's Rescue.
This is Beth, walking him after he got out of the transport van. She brought him to her home, so she could evaluate him. He was her 43rd foster dog. Foster families are an integral part of this process as they end up intimately knowing their foster dogs' temperaments, emotional "baggage" and unique characteristics. When they connect with potential adoptive families, they are able to describe these dogs to them. These foster families never know how long their commitment is doing to be to these dogs and if he was hard to place, she would have cared for him for as long as it took, to find him a home.
A volunteer created a "Dogster" webpage for him to further advertise his arrival in the NJ area. Thousands of similar profiles, powered by PetFinder, exist for other adoptable dogs, waiting in foster homes and shelters.
This is where I was brought in. Beth invited me, Jasper, Guapo and the kids to her home, to meet him last week. I knew right away, just like I did with Jasper, so many years ago, that he was to be my next forever dog.
As I fall more deeply in love with him, my gratitude for the people that helped him along the way, will also grow. I don't know how "normal" it is for them to be part of this process, but I will never forget the sacrifices you made in time and resources to complete this story.
And finally, thank you to Beth, for allowing her 43rd foster dog to become our new Once-In-A-Lifetime Dog.
Has your rescue dog ridden the Underground Railroad? Who would you like to thank and why?
He's been by my side for 13 years. I know I don't have another 13 years with him. I wish I did. But it doesn't take a veterinarian or even a "dog person" to know that the odds of Jasper, my Bernese Mountain Dog mix living until he's 26...are zilch.
I try not to look at him as impending heartache. His still wagging his tail, eating, asking to go for rides, snuggling and overseeing my ICU when he comes to the hospital with me (see above). But he can't climb stairs or jump into the back of the car anymore, he needs regular arthritis medicine and massage to move smoothly and he's now deaf.
If I could clone him, I would. I know many pet owners share that desire. But I think I've come with the next best thing.
Meet Calvin, a one year old border collie mix (see below). He was recently rescued by Rogers Rescues, out of a shelter in Kentucky, and is now in a foster home in my town.
I think I just might be adopting him tomorrow. We met him yesterday and he's amazing.
What do you think? It will be a strain for a while with two senior pets (Jasper and Thea, my 17 year old cat) in the house, who need significant care, two young kids and a frantic schedule.
But, as crazy as this sounds, I'm hoping that Jasper imparts his wisdom on Calvin before he leaves me.
Am I nuts?
Falling into the Fat Gap
See this cute little dog? I don't want to see her. Nope. I don't. However, chances are, I probably will. At 2:00am... on a Saturday night... in my emergency room...for a completely preventable reason. Why? Because unless she is seen by her veterinarian at least once a year, there is a disease smoldering in her that will go undetected, until suddenly at 2:00am, it becomes blatantly obvious.
Top 5 Preventable Diseases
Now, which disease will bring her to me? Odds are, it will be one of these top 5 preventable diseases.
However, that's not necessarily your fault. Sometimes, we as veterinarians, avoid having the "Fat Pet" discussion, especially if the two-legged mammals in the room (ourselves & our staff included) could lose a few pounds.
Take look at the picture above or click here to read more about establishing a Body Condition Score for your pet. If your pet is overweight or obese (Score of 4 or 5), they are at risk for diseases that are eerily similar to those in people.
A pet can hide all of these diseases for quite a while.... until they can't. Until it's 2:00am and they can't walk/breathe/move/stop vomiting, etc. That's where your friendly, neighborhood emergency veterinarian enters the picture.
What Can You Do?
Just like with humans, fat doesn't have to be forever. With dedication to the goal of a sleek, slender pet, your pet can live a longer, healthier life, by your side.
Share your success story with us!
On the Floor in the Veterinary ER