Bob a three-year-old terrier cross presented to our clinic one Tuesday afternoon after being hit by a car when he slipped the lead and ran across to road to get into the park. He was alert but quite subdued on arrival. The colour of his gums was quite pale which is typical for a dog in shock after an accident but can also be a symptom of bloods loss.
The Team Checks Bob’s Injuries
Our veterinary nurses Aoife and Leah and I needed to act quickly and assess Bob’s injuries. Although there was no evidence of bleeding externally, internal bleeding is also possible so a blood test to check his red blood cell count was carried out. Thankfully it was normal so, bleeding was considered unlikely.
On his exam his breathing was more laboured than normal, and his lung sounds were reduced. He was started on oxygen therapy to improve the oxygen supply to his organs. An IV canula was placed so IV fluids could be used to counteract the drop-in blood pressure due to the shock.
Pain relief was also given promptly. A brief ultrasound exam was performed to check for any potential bleeding into the chest and abdomen and the bladder was assessed as bladder rupture is possible and a very serious problem in animals that suffer severe trauma. The ultrasound scan appeared normal.
The next step was to take a X-Ray of the chest to check for punctured lungs, bruised lung, signs of bleeding and to assess the integrity of the diaphragm which may rupture in cases of severe trauma.
The X-Ray revealed a mild punctured lung which leads to a condition called pneumothorax. This allows the lung to collapse reducing the capacity of the lungs to provide oxygen to the blood. In severe cases a chest drain must be placed to relieve pressure building up in the chest cavity to save the pets life. Thankfully Bob was stable and did not require a chest drain, his punctured lung resolved itself after 2-3 days.
Finally, Bob was assessed for injuries such as wounds and broken bones. He had minor abrasions on his limbs and stomach and a lot of bruising but luckily escaped without any major lacerations or broken bones. He was sore for a few days so his pain was managed with anti inflammatories and it was great o see he made a prompt and full recovery.
What Should I do in an Emergency?
Accidents and emergencies like Bob’s do occur. In the event of your pet suffering a traumatic injury the following points may be useful to consider:
- Try to stay calm, it is easier said than done but panicking will not help the situation.
- Your pet’s behaviour may become unpredictable after an injury due to pain and shock and often they can become aggressive. Care must be taken by the owner not to get bitten. Approach the pet carefully and try to comfort them.
- Your pet may try to run away and hide due to the fight or flight response, it is advisable to safely prevent the pet from getting away as if they attempt to run away they may injure themselves further or if they hide they will delay their treatment.
- For small pets wrapping them in a coat before lifting is a good idea, for larger pets sliding them on to a sheet and with the help of a second person carrying them as if they were on a stretcher is more appropriate.
- Contact the vet to say you are on your way to the clinic so they can be prepared in advance for the emergency. It is seldom of any use for the vet to attend the scene of the accident as they will not be able to carry out any worthwhile treatments away from the clinic. We would advise visiting the vet as soon as possible after the accident even if the injuries appear minor.
- Carefully transfer the pet to your car, it is best to leave them on a flat surface such as the boot or on the back seat, placing them in the foot well can make it very difficult to remove the pet without hurting them.
- On arrival speak to the receptionist before bringing your pet into the clinic so they can direct you where to bring your pet, this reduces the need for moving you pet unnecessarily while they are in pain.
If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the team here at the vet in Foxrock.