As we are getting into the summer months, people and pets alike are enjoying the nice weather. Going for long walks, visiting dog parks, or just taking your pet out for a drive makes an afternoon much more enjoyable. Keep in mind though, these months are typically when we see the most pet emergencies due to everyone being out and about. It is important to keep addresses and numbers of the nearest veterinary emergency clinics handy. While we are equipped to handle anything walking (or not walking) through the door, these are the top 5 emergencies that we see.
Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV): This is the king of all emergencies. A GDV is when an animal’s stomach is twisted upon itself and cutting off circulation to vital organs. It is diagnosed with a single radiograph. It can be caused by many different factors but often happens in our large breed friends (i.e. Great Danes, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, etc). It is a surgical emergency that oftentimes takes precedence over anything else happening in the hospital. The surgeon will correct the twisted stomach then tack it to the body wall to help prevent the stomach from twisting in the future. Bloodwork is important to monitor prognosis.
Hemoabdomen: When a pet comes in for weakness, collapse, and pale gums, one of our main concerns is whether there is a mass bleeding into the abdomen (hemoabdomen). We typically see this with older patients however many middle aged patients can also develop bleeding masses. Radiographs, ultrasound, and bloodwork are used to diagnose this syndrome. Surgery is often necessary to remove the bleeding mass (typically on the spleen or liver).
Polytrauma: Have you ever been in the situation where you think your stomach is going to drop right to your legs because you realized you accidentally left the back gate open and your pet is missing? Pets that have been hit by vehicles or attacked by other animals are our most common emergencies. Typically radiographs, bloodwork, and ultrasounds need completed to analyze the full extent of your pet’s injuries. We can often see internal bleeding, fractures, and hernias with patients that have sustained major trauma. Often stabilization and surgery is needed for these patients.
Urinary obstruction: You may not think monitoring your pet’s urination habits on a regular basis is important but if your pet starts to act abnormally, these habits can help your veterinarian immensely. The most common urinary problems we see are pets straining to urinate or unable to urinate. Male cats are overrepresented in this department just based on their anatomy. Pets can develop a urinary blockage which can be fatal. Blockages are typically caused by infections, crystals, stones, stress, masses, or neurologic issues. Bloodwork, urinalysis, and radiographs are warranted to correctly diagnose your patient. Oftentimes he/she will need to be sedated so a urinary catheter can placed. Your pet often requires hospitalization as well to treat inflammation, electrolyte abnormalities, and the underlying issue.
Seizures: Seizures are very scary to witness and can occur at any time. There are several causes including toxins, bloodwork distrubances, congenital abnormalities, epilepsy, brain tumors, infection, and inflammation. It is very important to monitor your pet and time how long the seizure lasts. Please do not put your hands around your pet’s face since he/she is unaware of what is happening and could bite you. We will perform bloodwork and possibly radiographs to rule out/in some causes of seizures. We will discuss the best course of action moving forward based on these diagnostics.