Pet Care Information | Emergency (Prevention Is Key)

My 10 Most Recent Emergency Calls (Part 1 of 2)

Pet emergencies are extremely stressful for everyone involved. Finding a pet in distress leads to shock and anxiety. Frequently, pet guardians will experience guilt and possibly anger with the realization that the emergency could have been avoided. The unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of emergencies are preventable, with some knowledge and preparation. When you’re looking for pet care information, part of your care needs to be emergency planning and prevention.

Let’s look at some of my most recent emergency calls. I am not finding fault with anyone. Even the worst circumstances provide an opportunity to learn, and I am all about prevention! Keep in mind that my focus is on dogs and cats.

Part 2 is here.

1. Person Ran Over Their Own Pet

This happens with surprising frequency, and often the location is at home. Most commonly, it is not due to a particularly negligent owner. Dogs and cats can be hidden out of sight.

Typically, the victim is elderly, possibly losing sight, hearing and mobility. They may be laying under or near a vehicle, out of your visual range. There are also dogs that like to chase vehicles and try to bite at the tires. Sometimes cats will get inside the engine compartment when it’s still warm, during cold weather.

Avoid this type of accident by keeping your pets confined, or at least know where they are. Check around the vehicle before you get in, and then as you drive away.

2. Dog Ate Marijuana

Possibly the most frequent emergency call that I receive; I’ve had three in the past 2 weeks. Dogs like the way marijuana flower tastes, and they love it mixed in chocolate, creating an even more poisonous combination. It shouldn’t be a surprise that dogs will readily eat a wide variety of edible cannabis-containing products. Dogs can even get toxic from eating feces from people that are using marijuana.

Avoid this by preventing access. Training and/or an appropriate muzzle can reduce or eliminate toxin ingestion. Dogs will find toxins while on walks, and sometimes ingest toxins right in front of you! A basket muzzle or an Outfox (see below) will prevent this completely.

I have written in more detail about this topic here, but it is definitely worth mentioning again.

3. Foxtails

A foxtail is a plant awn, and a method of distributing seeds. Foxtails can do a surprising amount of damage, causing pain, inflammation, and often an abscess.

Dogs get foxtails frequently in their ears, eyes, nose, mouth and feet, although they can end up in any location in the body. Cats most commonly get foxtails in their eyes, but similar to dogs, any location is possible.

Foxtails are located in most of the United States and many parts of the world. You should look here to see if these sorts of grasses are in your area or areas you will be traveling to.

Keep your property trimmed, and don’t take your dog into areas with foxtails. If you can’t avoid foxtails, then take a look at Outfox for Dogs ( Boots for dogs are available at feed stores and pet stores. They are excellent at preventing foxtails in the feet and other types of foot trauma. Make sure to size them correctly.

4. Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an erosion on the surface of the eye. It is very painful and also prone to infection.

Corneal ulcers occur either from trauma, infection, a foreign body (such as a foxtail) or are breed-related.

While any animal can get a corneal ulcer, breeds of dogs or cats with protruding eyes and particularly a short muzzle are prone to corneal ulcers. Apart from the shape of their face and eyes (conformation), many of these breeds also have a genetic defect of the cornea that interferes with proper healing of corneal ulcers, ultimately requiring surgery to fix the problem. This concerning condition is called an indolent ulcer and is discussed in this excellent article.

Avoid corneal ulcers by preventing your dog from running through shrubs and brush. A product like Outfox for Dogs (see above) protects eyes as well as preventing foxtails. Doggles are a brand of eye protection in the form of tinted goggles designed to fit the shape of a dog’s head.

A tip for those of you that either ride with your dog in the back of an open truck (a very bad idea and not recommended), or your dog likes to ride in the vehicle with her head out of the window (also a bad idea and not recommended). One of the multiple risks of doing this is getting a corneal ulcer from flying debris or an insect.

To Be Continued

In the near future I will be continuing with more common emergencies and what to do about them.