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Dogs + Emergency Situations

  • The cornea is the transparent, shiny membrane that makes up the front of the eyeball. With a corneal ulcer, fluid is absorbed from the tears into the stroma, giving a cloudy appearance to the eye. The most common cause of a corneal ulcer is trauma. Less common causes of corneal ulcers include bacterial infections, viral infections, and other diseases.

  • Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, is found in fresh and brackish water of ponds and lakes. This microscopic bacteria can also grow in backyard fountains, garden pots, bird baths, and anywhere water is stagnant. Regardless of where they are found, cyanobacteria can be dangerous.

  • Cyanosis is defined as a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes of the body caused by inadequate oxygen levels. Several different conditions involving the cardiovascular/circulatory system and/or the respiratory system that can lead to cyanosis, including congenital defects, degeneration of heart valves or heart muscle, blood clots in the lungs, pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, asthma, lung flukes, smoke inhalation, or muscle damage to the diaphragm. Cyanosis is an emergency, and the root cause may be life-threatening and may or may not be reversible. Once back home, homecare instructions must be followed carefully.

  • Cystine bladder stones appear to be the result of a genetic abnormality that prevents a dog from reabsorbing cystine from the kidneys. While bladder stones in general are somewhat common in dogs, cystine bladder stones are rare. Your veterinarian may be able to palpate the stones or may need to perform imaging studies such as a bladder ultrasound or a contrast radiographic study. There are two primary treatment strategies for treating cystine bladder stones in dogs: urohydropropulsion or surgical removal. Dogs that have developed cystine bladder stones in the past will often be fed a therapeutic diet for life. Unfortunately, cystine stones have a high rate of recurrence, despite careful attention to diet and lifestyle.

  • Diabetes mellitus results from an inadequate production of insulin from the pancreas. The primary treatment is replacement by insulin injections. The body’s response to the injections needs to be regularly monitored by glucose curves over 12-24 hours. There are several glucometers that can be used at home for this purpose. Insulin must be stored and reconstituted carefully to ensure dosing is accurate. Giving subcutaneous injections of insulin can seem daunting at first, but by following the directions in this handout, it will quickly become second nature to both you and your pet. Hypoglycemia can result from too much insulin, not enough food, or excess exercise. Pet owners are trained to recognized hypoglycemia and treat or obtain emergency veterinary attention.

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that results from inadequate insulin or interference of insulin action on the body preventing glucose regulation. This causes a buildup of ketone bodies that, at a high enough level, will cause a metabolic derangement resulting in inability to retain water, weakness, vomiting and weight loss, among other signs. Treatment usually requires intensive hospitalized care including IV fluids, potassium supplementation, short acting insulin injections, and regular monitoring of glucose and electrolytes. In dogs already diagnosed with diabetes, ketoacidosis can often be prevented with regular glucose monitoring performed at home.

  • Even though e-cigarettes may be safer for humans than using traditional tobacco products, they are certainly not safe for pets. The nicotine associated with e-cigarettes, even without the tobacco, poses a serious health threat for dogs and cats.

  • Eclampsia in dogs is an emergent condition of hypocalcemia that generally occurs one to four weeks after whelping but can also occur shortly before giving birth. Risk factors include a poor diet, small breed dogs, abnormal parathyroid gland, and calcium supplementation during pregnancy. Signs of eclampsia start as restlessness, panting, and stiffness and can progress to disorientation, tremors, inability to walk, and convulsions. Treatment includes intravenous fluids, careful intravenous calcium supplementation, and other supportive medications. This is followed by oral supplementation and weaning puppies as soon as possible or supplementing their diet with milk replacer.

  • There are many types of emergencies, but initial care is similar: stay calm, keep your dog warm and quiet, contact your veterinarian, and get help to transport your pet to a veterinarian. Common emergencies are described including gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), acute hemorrhagic diarrhea, anaphylaxis, automobile injury, seizures, respiratory distress, eye injury, eclampsia, heatstroke, heart failure, toxin ingestion and, collapse. In the event of an emergency, owners are advised to bring their dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible, even if it appears normal.

  • Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures without a known cause or abnormal brain lesion (brain injury or disease). A seizure is a sudden surge in the electrical activity of the brain causing signs such as twitching, shaking, tremors, convulsions, and/or spasms. The exact cause of epilepsy is unknown, but a genetic basis is suspected in many breeds. Seizures can vary in appearance and can be focalized or generalized.