Strawberry, a three-year-old female guinea pig, was seen by Dr. Olivia Petritz, our board-certified exotics specialist. Strawberry presented for an evaluation of a bladder stone, which had been diagnosed by her primary veterinarian. After consulting with Dr. Branter, the head of Interventional Radiology/Endoscopy and Urology, Strawberry’s family decided to try to remove the stone without surgery.
Using a small, rigid cystoscope and basket specialized for stone removal, Dr. Branter was able to retrieve the stone and avoid an invasive surgical procedure. The stone was analyzed and the results showed that it was composed of calcium carbonate, which is the most common type of stone in guinea pigs.
Strawberry recovered much more quickly than if she had undergone surgery. She was sent home soon after the scope with antibiotics and pain medication to recover with her family. She will have periodic x-rays to check for the formation of new stones, which will allow us to find any future stones early enough to remove them with an even less invasive method called voiding urethral hydropulsion, or flushing out of stones.
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.
Chili Dog is an 11-year-old chinchilla who lives the pampered life at home with his dad and mom in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Chili Dog was at home without air conditioning during the recent heatwave, causing him to suffer heat stroke.
Heat stroke happens when the body is no longer able to get rid of excess heat, causing overheating and resulting in seizures, organ failure, brain damage, and eventually death. Chinchillas are very intolerant of warm temperatures because they come from high in the Andes Mountains of South America. They are at risk of heatstroke in temperatures above the mid-70s.
Chili Dog’s owners knew something was wrong when they watched him collapse and begin breathing heavily. They did the right thing and wet him with water to cool him down before immediately bringing him to see Dr. Karen Schachterle at ACCESS LA on emergency.
When he arrived, Chili Dog was still collapsed on his side and was minimally responsive. Dr. Schachterle confirmed that Chili Dog did have heat stroke and that his small body was also in shock. Due to the severity of his condition, Dr. Schachterle and her team had to move quickly. They began to stabilize him with fluids and medication, making sure to include gastroprotectants as heat stroke can cause major damage to the stomach and GI tract. They also ran bloodwork to check for organ damage and began an intensive care and monitoring protocol.
It took almost twelve hours to get Chili Dog to the point where he was sitting up properly and able to eat on his own. Small mammals like chinchillas need to eat frequently, as even a short fast can cause severe disease.
Luckily, Chili Dog survived and was able to go home with his loving family, where he was closely monitored for any further issues, as complications from heat stroke can continue to develop hours after it is diagnosed.
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
Platt College in Alhambra asked us to bring an RVT to speak to a class of 10 students and we jumped at the chance to recruit future techs/have them take knowledge about us to a future practice they will work at one day.
Karina Gomez, RVT and lead tech of IM/IR was able to come and give her perspective on life as a tech. She has a unique background, having attended a small high school at the LA Zoo (!) and has her Bachelors of Science in Animal Health Science from Cal Poly Pomona.
She is a great speaker and covered different topics like about what it’s like to work in an extremely busy emergency and critical care department, along with what kinds of different foreign objects she seen pulled out of an animal, and how dialysis and plasmapheresis can improve a patient’s well-being.
They would love to have us back in 6 months for a different batch of students so I’m sure we will set something up.
Jillian Kassel Director of Community Relations | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals
Cranberry was diagnosed with severe pulmonary stenosis when she was just a few months old, meaning flow of blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the pulmonary artery was obstructed, causing pressure and stress on the heart.
Depending on the severity of the obstruction, it can cause issues like a murmur, an arrhythmia, or even congestive heart failure. Upon diagnosis, Cranberry’s regular veterinarian referred her over to Dr. Steve Cole, the head of Cardiology at ACCESS San Fernando Valley.
Cranberry was part of the rescue group Angel City Pits, who after meeting with Dr. Cole, decided they wanted to pursue a procedure that would correct the issue. Dr. Cole teamed up with Dr. Yonathan Buks, one of the surgeons at ACCESS, to perform a balloon valvuloplasty in our interventional radiology suite. Using fluoroscopy, they were able to see a live x-ray of Cranberry’s heart. They made a small incision to insert a catheter that was used to guide the balloon (see below) the exact point needed to repair Cranberry’s heart. The balloon was successfully inflated at the point of the obstruction to open the path and allow blood to flow properly.
Cranberry made a full recovery and will now live a full, healthy life. She’s now considered a “foster fail” as her original foster mom decided to adopt her and officially make her a part of the family! We are so happy we were able to help Cranberry and thrilled that she has found a loving forever home.
Dr. Danielle Sawyer, a resident in our Emergency and Critical Care department at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles, spoke to both a Kindergarten class and a 1st grade class on ‘Career Day’ at Will Rogers Elementary School in Santa Monica about being a veterinarian!
There was a short PowerPoint presentation that covered things such as what they do every day, what it takes to be a veterinarian, and what kinds of pets they treat and care for. The kids had plenty of questions (“Do you see dragons?” “How about dinosaurs?”) and were very interested in learning about being an animal doctor when they grow up.
Some 5th graders also got the chance to listen in and got some tips from Dr. Sawyer outside the classroom afterwards. Hopefully we planted a seed and they will be future ACCESS employees one day!
Jillian Kassel Director of Community Relations | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals