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Articles by Dr. Tesluk


Dr. Stephen Tesluk, DVM


Not long ago, I was using the “quiet hour” after we close to make calls to client when our third telephone line rang.  It was our answering service.

            “Mrs. J called, her dog Annie was attacked by something and she is bleeding.”

            “Do you have her on the line?” I asked.

            “No, she said her husband is bringing her down to the clinic now,” the operator replied.

            Well, so much for the quiet hour.  About the same time I was hanging up the phone, I heard Mr. J knocking at the front door.  I opened the door and he walked in carrying Annie, an 80-pound Labrador. 

            “She’s ripped up pretty bad,” stammered Mr. J. A quick exam proved him right; the skin on the front of Annie’s left front leg had been ripped open above the elbow and pulled down 5 inches.  The inside of her right rear leg had gash that was a foot long and 4 inches wide that looked like it had been made with a scalpel.

            Despite the severe wounds, there was very little bleeding.  Annie was able to stand and was not in shock.  Mr. J explained that Annie had been in their woodsy – but fenced – backyard.  The next thing he knew she came running around the house with her skin ripped open.  A closer look at Annie’s front leg showed two superficial wounds about two inches apart just above the beginning of the torn section.

            “Annie is very lucky,” I told Mr. J.  “It looks like she survived a close encounter with a cougar.  You can see the claw marks on her front leg, and there are major arteries that lay just millimeters beneath both of her wounds.  She may have surprised a young male or a female cat who got in a couple swipes before taking off.”

            Because her wounds very clean, I decided to bandage the legs, treat with antibiotics, and the next morning Annie had surgery to repair her wounds.

            Traumatic injury is just one type of emergency that a pet owner might face.  With any emergency, having an emergency plan in place saves precious time and could mean the difference between the life and death of your pet.

            Ask your regular veterinarian where you should seek care for your pet in the case of emergencies.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming your veterinarian will be available after hours.  Increasingly, fewer veterinarians make the commitment to be available to their clients and patients after hours, opting instead to refer all these problems to emergency clinics.

            Those practices that still answer their after-hours calls limit this service to established clients, and will not see new patients on an emergency basis.

            In the case of traumatic injuries such as motor vehicle trauma, animal attacks, falls, or gunshot wounds, the pet owner should be prepared to administer basic first aid if needed.

            First, check for breathing, and administer rescue breathing (mouth to nose) if needed.  Second, control bleeding – in most cases direct pressure on the wound is the best way to control bleeding, Third, stabilize the animal for transport.

            If the animal is down, do not try to make it get up – this could aggravate spinal injuries.  If possible, get a rigid platform like a board and gently slide the animal onto it, then secure the animal to the board with straps, ropes or tape placed over the shoulders, midsection and hips.

            Next, cover the animal with a blanket and transport immediately.  A call should be made to let the veterinarian know what the injuries are and when you will arrive.

            Annie survived her emergency, although Mr. J reports that she is a bit pensive about exploring her big back yard these days.  Hopefully, her encounter sent that cougar packing for a less complicated environment, and she - or any other pet in her neighborhood – won’t have to deal with this type of emergency again.

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