Archive for the Critical Care Category

Heat Stroke: Quiet, Quick, and Deadly

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Hermes is a lovable, energetic two-year-old Pitbull who came to us after he went hiking with his doting mom in the morning on one of the first days of a heatwave in Southern California. After the hike, they returned home and Hermes seemed perfectly normal, so mom went out for about one hour. When she returned home however, she found Hermes in distress.

Within the span of a 45 minute hike, Hermes suffered severe heat stroke and burns to his paw pads and toes. Heat stroke happens when your body can no longer get rid of the extra heat inside of it. Your body then begins to become affected by the heat, resulting in organ damage and eventually death.

His paws were bleeding, he had diarrhea, and was lethargic. His owner had to act quickly, so she did the right thing and rushed him to their local vet where he was bathed to reduce his temperature and was then referred to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles.

Here, he was taken in right away and diagnosed with bruised skin, an irregular heartbeat, a blood clotting disorder, GI bleeding, kidney injuries, lameness, and severe paw pad abrasions. Hermes was started on fluids, and IV medications to stabilize him and reduce his pain, and had his paws cleaned and bandaged. He continued his medication and fluids, as well as a plasma transfusion to help reverse the damage caused by the heat. He will continue to be monitored for changes and treated for his condition.

Unfortunately, Hermes is not alone. Heatstroke can affect humans and animals within a matter of minutes with symptoms sometimes being very subtle.

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ACCESS – Deep In the Heart of Texas…

The International Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Symposium, or IVECCS, was held in Texas this year, and boy did we have a blast!

For those who are unfamiliar with the event, IVECCS is a lot like Comic-Con, only instead of movies, comics, and pop culture, thousands of people attend to learn more about and celebrate emergency and critical care for animals!

Our doctors and staff enjoyed attending lectures and hands-on labs, while our Marketing and Admin teams rocked the job fair in an effort to recruit some stellar doctors, specialists, RVTs, and VTS’s to join our team. We all loved being able to meet new people and see old friends.

We had a great time and can’t wait until next year!

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Update on Hermes. (See previous post.)

Hermes Recovering from Heat Stroke and Paw Burns.

Hermes came to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital on emergency with heat stroke and was diagnosed with bruised skin, an irregular heartbeat, a blood clotting disorder, GI bleeding, kidney injuries, lameness, and severe paw pad abrasions. Hermes was started on fluids, and IV medications to stabilize him and reduce his pain, and had his paws cleaned and bandaged. He continued his medication and fluids, as well as a plasma transfusion to help reverse the damage caused by the heat.

Hermes is now more alert, eating, and drinking water. He is still being treated for all of the injuries from his heat stroke as well as the burns to his paws. Most of his day is spent quietly resting while being monitored and snuggled by doctors and staff. Hermes will continue to be monitored for changes and treated for his condition.

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Grass is a much safer alternative…

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Although summer is winding down, here in Southern California the heat can still cause problems for our furry friends. It is a common misconception that the pads of a dog’s feet don’t feel pain or heat. Au contraire! The pads are very sensitive and important organs. When we walk our dogs on hot pavement the pads heat up and blistering can occur under the pad. This is especially common when walking on blacktops. If the dog walks on these hot surfaces frequently, the blister forming under the pad will separate the outer pad from the underlying tissues and one day part of the pad may rip off. These cases often take a long time to heal with multiple bandage changes. In general, if the pavement is too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it’s probably too hot for your dog. Grass is a MUCH safer alternative.

Another interesting point about dog feet is that they not only provide cushioning during walking, but they can dissipate a very small amount of heat from the body. There are specialized sweat glands around the pads of the feet and on the nose. Compare these two small areas with the 4 million pores all over the human body and you’ll realize that dogs heat up MUCH quicker than we do. Because of this, dogs heavily rely on panting to cool themselves and it takes longer for them to cool than it takes us. It’s very important to protect your dog from overheating by not going on long walks in the heat of the day, always having water available and not over exerting him or her. Next time you go out with Fido, try to run, hike and play outside in the cooler morning or evening and stay away from the middle of the day. By doing this you are not only protecting the foot pads from injury, but also protecting from overheating and deadly heat stroke.

Danielle Sawyer, DVM
Emergency and Critical Care Resident
ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles

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Lucas Gives Urinary Issues Two Thumbs Down…

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Meet Lucas! He’s a very unique six-year-old cat who is polydactyl on his front and hind limbs, meaning he has extra digits, or thumbs, on each paw!

Lucas was acting strange when his mom Christy, an ACCESS Los Angeles employee noticed his symptoms and suspected he was blocked. A blocked cat is one with a urinary obstruction which is dangerous and can lead to a ruptured bladder or even death.

Luckily, Lucas was examined by emergency doctor, Dr. Danielle Sawyer, who determined he simply had an inflamed bladder. He was treated with antibiotics and fluids and was able to go home the same day. Lucas is now resting comfortably at home with his feline and canine brothers and sisters.

Signs of blocking can include straining to urinate, crying out, urinating outside of the litter box, blood in the urine, and frequent urination. If you suspect your cat may be blocked, call your veterinarian immediately.

Shannon Brown

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In case you need us today…

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ACCESS visits IVECCS in Washington, D.C.

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In September of 2015, many of our team members made the trek to Washington, D.C. to attend IVECCS, the International Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Symposium. There, we were able to attend lectures, host a booth at the job fair, and see old friends as well as make new ones! The ACE crew — Aubrey the cat, Carleigh the dog, and Eric the bird — enjoyed seeing everything D.C. had to offer!

The Gaylord National Convention Center was the perfect setting for such an impressive gathering of the best of the best in veterinary emergency and critical care! The Gaylord was centrally located and a truly remarkable venue for such an event. We were able to go sightseeing and were so thankful for the chance to see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the White House.

Later, at the job fair, we had the opportunity to meet dozens of technicians, doctors, residents, and specialists, all of whom were happy to learn more about what ACCESS and Southern California had to offer.

Our trip was wonderful and we were truly grateful for the experience. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us!

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The Hot Facts About Heat Stroke and Your Dog

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It’s summertime— the sun is bright and the days are long. You’d like to go for a jog with your best friend and there’s a nice breeze, so you suspect that it is not too hot… Fido should be fine!  What you don’t know is that serious injury could be lurking right outside your door, for you and your pet.

Did you know that when dogs pant it helps cool their bodies much like sweating cools us down? Panting is their main cooling mechanism; without the ability to pant, they overheat.

If you put a muzzle on your dog, or any other device that prevents the mouth from opening wide enough to pant, you could cause your dog to overheat.
Sometimes, even if a dog is able to pant, the body can get so hot that the heat buildup overwhelms the panting mechanism and heat stroke can ensue. Imagine that your dog is a car—if your car isn’t able to run properly, it can overheat and breakdown. Unfortunately, if your dog overheats, he or she could die.

It is important to note that the temperature outside doesn’t matter. It could be 70 degrees with a breeze and your dog could still get heat exhaustion or worse. Dogs particularly susceptible to overheating on walks are brachycephalic breeds (dogs with a short snout) like Bulldogs, Pugs, Brussels, and Griffons; overweight dogs; and thick coated dogs such as Huskies, German Shepherds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Please, never leave your pet in a car. On a 78 degree day, the temperature in a car, even with windows cracked, can elevate to 120 degrees within minutes.

Signs indicating that your pet is overheating and has potential for heat stroke include: lethargy, vomiting, shallow breaths, seizures, and confusion. If you note any of these signs, you must immediately remove your pet from the heat source, give your pet water to drink, fan your pet,and allow him or her to rest. In severe cases of heat stroke, you may wet the dog’s body with room temperature to slightly cool water. However, please be careful because if the water is too cold, it could shock the system. It is important to see a veterinarian right away if mild or severe signs of heat injury appear.

Summer should be full of time outside and fun with family, friends, and your pooch. Please be safe and play outside on cooler days, as well as earlier or later in the day for short amounts of time on warmer days. Always be sure there is plenty of water for Fido, and if there are any signs of overheating, rest your dog and seek veterinary advice immediately. Also, be sure to report any animals inside of a car to the proper authorities. You could save a voiceless creature’s life.

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Is peanut butter poisonous for pups?

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Peanut butter is a delight for dogs and dog lovers – what better to coat the inside of Kong toys or hide those yucky pills? But dog lovers beware!”
A new peanut butter on the market is actually toxic to dogs. The problem is a sweetener called xylitol, which is used in some Nuts ‘N More products. Xylitol exists naturally in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. For people, it is thought to have benefits over sugar including fewer calories, less tooth decay and fewer problems for diabetics. It’s a common ingredient in sugar-free gum, candy, toothpaste, and baked goods. Unfortunately, what’s safe for humans isn’t always safe for dogs.

So what happens when a dog eats xylitol?

Xylitol is extremely dangerous for dogs – even in small amounts. In low doses (0.1 grams per kilogram of body weight) it causes insulin release and low blood sugar. If blood sugar drops low enough, your dog can experience seizures or even a coma. In slightly higher doses (0.5 grams per kilogram) xylitol can cause liver failure. The amount of xylitol is proprietary information in most food products, so we often have to assume that a patient who ingested any food containing xylitol received a toxic dose. In this case, we typically recommend hospitalizing the dog with a constant infusion of sugar in an IV line, and we give medications to protect the liver. We monitor sugar and liver values on bloodwork for 2-3 days so that we can be proactive in treating liver disease if it develops. Once present, liver failure is a very difficult-and sometimes deadly – condition.

Needless to say, a few days in the hospital with frequently monitored bloodwork makes for a rough time for dogs and their people. Prevention is the best strategy; so read those labels, dog lovers! And be careful about human foods in general – did you know that grapes, macadamia nuts, and bread dough are also toxic for dogs?

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Thanks to Rebecca McQuitty, DVM for this interesting and valuable information.

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The Dog who was Set on Fire | Eight Years Later

Looking at Abigail today, you would never know that she was a victim of heinous animal abuse. This nine-year-old Staffordshire terrier currently resides in Southern California with her loving and dedicated family. However, life was not this easy for her a few years ago.

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At about one year old, Abigail was found near a vacant house in Lancaster, CA by a neighbor when she was running in circles, on fire. The neighbor quickly put clothing and water on the pup to douse the flames, but it was apparent that severe damage had already been done. Despite the pain, this sweet, battered dog was still trying to wag her tail and even licked her rescuers. Luckily enough, the folks at Karma Rescue sprang into action, ensuring that Abigail would have the funds and medical attention she needed to survive and recover.

Her rescuers took her to a local veterinarian, who then referred them to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, Los Angeles a few hours after she had been soaked in accelerant and purposely lit on fire.

Abigail would receive advanced medical care from several board-certified veterinary specialists as well as human burn specialists from UCLA. Over fifty percent of her small body was covered in severe burns and her initial treatment included plenty of fluids and pain medication. Her injuries were so bad that she was put into a medically induced coma for the first few days to relieve her pain.

She was hospitalized in our ICU from May to December of 2008, where she would be put under daily anesthesia to debride and clean her horrendous injuries, with our specialists ensuring she was comfortable and relatively pain free with the help of medication. Eventually, she was well enough to have several skin grafts performed to help close her wounds. Abigail’s road to recovery was long and treacherous; with the torture she endured being so incredibly inhumane, it forced some of her caregivers to tears in our hospital. Dr. Patty Paravicini, who is now an emergency and critical care resident at ACCESS LA, worked here as a veterinary assistant then; and recalls the lengthy process “she was very bad off at first, the burns covered almost sixty percent of her body. Dr. Carey had to basically re-do her skin. Luckily, she’s had a great life for 8 years now because she was adopted by a great person.”

Abigail was able to leave the hospital with her new parents and go right into her forever home thanks to the hard work done by Karma Rescue; and has been living the sweet life for the past few years, sunbathing with her family and eating to her hearts content—two of her favorite hobbies! Unfortunately, the damage done to her body still affects her today. Since Abigail’s injury, her skin is much thinner and more delicate than it would have been had she not been burned. Her mom puts veterinarian recommended sunscreen every day, but Abby’s skin has still succumb to sun damage.

We want Abigail’s story to show prospective pet owners that there is life after rescue, and that many rescued dogs can live a full, happy life when given a chance; and for anyone who suspects animal abuse to report it immediately. Your information could save the life of a voiceless creature.

Please report any suspected animal abuse to your local taskforce.

LA County | ANIMAL CRUELTY TASK FORCE

24-hour notification hotline 213-486-0450

“Animal cruelty includes any activity that causes injury, disability, or death. Examples of animal cruelty are kicking, hitting, choking, punching, hanging, stabbing, shooting, setting on fire, or electrocuting.” lapdonline.org/actf

Shannon Brown
Marketing Coordinator | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals

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