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Emergency Situations

  • Aspirin is a commonly used over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and is used to treat fever, pain, inflammation (swelling), and clotting disorders in humans. Aspirin poisoning occurs when a dog ingests a toxic dose of aspirin, either through misuse or accidentally. The most common side effect of aspirin is gastrointestinal irritation, which can lead to signs such as a decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Treatment for aspirin poisoning depends on how quickly the dog is seen by the veterinarian.

  • Atrial fibrillation describes very rapid contractions or twitching of the heart muscle, specifically in the atria. Most of the time, atrial fibrillation in cats occurs secondary to heart disease. Sometimes, in large breed cats, atrial fibrillation will occur as a primary heart problem. Most cats who develop atrial fibrillation have underlying heart disease, so the signs that are observed are often related to that underlying condition, and may include exercise intolerance, cough, or difficulty breathing. Treatment varies depending on whether the pet has primary or secondary atrial fibrillation. Your cat will need to be monitored on a regular basis.

  • AIHA or IMHA is a life-threatening condition which may occur as a primary condition or secondary to another disease. Most cats with AIHA have severe anemia, their gums will be very pale, they will be listless and tire more easily, be anorexic and will have increased heart and respiration rates. Diagnosis involves CBC, biochemical profiles, urinalysis, and X-rays or ultrasound of the abdomen and chest. Treatment may involve blood transfusions and other medications over a prolonged course of time. The prognosis may be better if an underlying cause can be identified.

  • AIHA or IMHA is a life-threatening condition which may occur as a primary condition or secondary to another disease. Most dogs with AIHA have severe anemia, their gums will be very pale, they will be listless and tire more easily, be anorexic and will have increased heart and respiration rates. Diagnosis involves CBC, biochemical profiles, urinalysis, and X-rays or ultrasound of the abdomen and chest. Treatment may involve blood transfusions and other medications over a prolonged course of time. The prognosis may be better if an underlying cause can be identified.

  • Bites wounds are one of the most common reasons dogs are seen for emergency appointments with their veterinarians. The dog's teeth and jaws are very powerful and the wounds they inflict can crush or tear muscles and skin, penetrate through the chest wall and cause lung collapse, or cause serious or fatal damage to intestinal organs. All bite wounds are considered to be contaminated and/or infected. Left untreated, the bacteria in an infected bite wound will cause a localized abscess or more generalized cellulitis that spreads through the surrounding area. All bite wounds should be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Treatment will depend on the extent of the injuries, your dog's general health, and the location of the wounds.

  • Bladder stones are rock-like formations of minerals that develop in the urinary bladder. All stones form because of disease or inflammation in the bladder. The most common signs of bladder stones in the cat are blood in the urine and straining to urinate. Large stones may act almost like a valve, causing an "on-off" or partial obstruction at the neck of the bladder. In males, small stones become lodged in the urethra and cause an obstruction. X-rays (with or without contrast dyes) or ultrasound may be necessary for diagnosis. The fastest way to remove bladder stones is via a surgical procedure called a cystotomy. Special diets or passing a catheter may be successful for some bladder stones. Your veterinarian will advise you of the best course of action for your cat’s particular situation.

  • Bladder stones are rock-like formations of minerals that develop in the urinary bladder. The most common signs that a dog has bladder stones are hematuria and dysuria. Bladder stones can develop within a few weeks or they may take months to form. Most bladder stones are visible on radiographs or an ultrasonic bladder examination. There are three main treatment options for bladder stones: 1) surgical removal; 2) non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion, or 3) dietary dissolution. Prevention is possible in some cases, depending on the chemical composition of the stones.

  • Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is an acute life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with large amounts of air and then twists around effectively cutting off the outputs to the esophagus and intestine. It then continues to expand putting pressure on the mucosa, major vessels and diaphragm. Because of the constriction of major vessels returning to the heart, a dog will collapse from lack of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. Underlying causes are still a mystery but most dogs affected are large breed, deep chested male dogs although any dog can experience GDV. There is a definite risk in dogs that have eaten large meals and then exercise. Bloat may be diagnosed by physical exam but radiographs and other testing is needed to show volvulus. Treatment involves decompressing the stomach with a stomach tube or a percutaneous catheter, shock treatment with IV fluids and emergency medications, surgery to correct the volvulus and identify and remove any necrotic areas of stomach or spleen. Mortality rate ranges from 15-40% in treated cases. There is no guaranteed prevention for GDV but gastropexy can reduce the risk. Attention to diet, feeding and exercise may also prevent gastric dilation.

  • Blood feathers are a normal maturation process for all feathers on birds. When feathers first erupt from the skin they contain blood. Injury to the feather as it grows may cause the blood feather to become broken causing blood loss that at times may require emergency treatment by an avian veterinarian.

  • This handout summarizes the possible reactions a cat may experience when receiving a blood transfusion. Many transfusion reactions occur acutely, within seconds of starting the transfusion up to 48 hours post-transfusion. The clinical signs and treatment protocols both vary based on the type of reaction. Prior to a blood transfusion, your veterinarian may perform tests to help ensure that the donor blood is a good match for your cat.