Keep Your Dog Safe from Accidents


In a 48-hour period last weekend, three dogs who are very
close to me ended up in veterinary emergency rooms. It was a very weird
aggregation of events – but each event was avoidable, and each dog’s owner has
taken responsibility for their dog’s potentially deadly accident.

Beware of Wild Animals Around Your Property

The first accident happened to Daisy, my sister’s little
15-pound Jack Russell Terrier. My sister and her husband live in a rural area,
where most of the homes are on lots of a half-acre or more. In addition, they
live at the bottom of a steep hill, on a court with just five houses on it, and
several empty lots. She sometimes allows her little dogs to potty in the empty
half-acre lot next door to her house. The lot is, like her own backyard,
studded with oak trees, but unlike her yard, is covered with tall grass, and
the little dogs enjoy sniffing and exploring the area as they take their potty
break.

On this particular day, though, what my sister failed to
notice as she let the dogs wander into the lot, was a female deer apparently lounging
at the back of the lot. She didn’t see the moment that two of her dogs
discovered the deer – or whether the deer spotted the dogs before they spotted
her. But she heard one of her dogs shrieking and as she ran in the direction of
the screams, saw a large female deer rearing up and stomping down on one of her
little dogs.

Like many of us, she was focused on getting to and
protecting her dog, and failed to appreciate the danger to herself as she ran
toward the deer. She said she was yelling, “Hey! Hey!” and about 15 feet from
the deer, fully expecting the deer to spook and run from her, when it, instead,
reared up and charged at HER. She screamed and waved her arms and dodged behind
a tree, and fortunately, little Daisy took that opportunity to bolt away from
the deer. My sister, too, turned and ran and, again, fortunately, the deer
didn’t pursue either of them. I suspect that she had a baby resting nearby or
some other reason to go on the offensive. My sister didn’t investigate further,
as Daisy was still screaming – now in pain, rather than from fear. The deer’s
hooves had made one very deep and long laceration along Daisy’s flank, and her
face was bleeding, too.

A night in the ER, x-rays, pre-anesthetic bloodwork, surgery
(under anesthesia) to close the laceration and insert a drain, antibiotics, and
pain medication: $1,600. Nope, they don’t have pet insurance.

Don’t Leave Out Food Leftovers or Dirty Dishes

pieces of tennis ball and glass from dog's stomach
Pieces of glass and tennis ball, retrieved from Nova’s tummy

The very next morning, I received a call from a friend
regarding her dog Nova, who was my favorite puppy from a litter I fostered last
fall. (I used her and Nova to model for an article in WDJ not long ago, you can
see them here.)
She said, “I just need a little support. I am at the ER with Nova and scared!”
It seems she had made barbequed ribs the night before, and had left the glass
pan, covered with baked-on sauce, on the stove top, to deal with the next day.
In the middle of the night, Nova had apparently knocked the pan onto the
kitchen floor, where it shattered into hundreds of pieces – and she spent some
time licking the sauce off of those pieces of glass! There was broken
glass  – and blood – all over the kitchen
floor. My friend didn’t hesitate; she just put Nova into the car and drove
straight to the emergency clinic.

panting dog
Nova: A little loopy, but no worse for wear after licking and ingesting broken glass, and having it retrieved from her stomach under anesthesia

The attending veterinarian used an endoscope (under full
anesthesia) to examine Nova’s esophagus and stomach, and removed several pieces
of glass – as well as several pieces of chewed-up tennis ball. She was
incredibly lucky; the procedure took place quickly enough that Nova hadn’t yet
vomited (which could have made the glass cause damage on the way out of the
stomach and in Nova’s throat), nor had the glass hadn’t started to move through
Nova’s intestines. The blood that her owner saw on the kitchen floor was
definitely caused by cuts the glass made on Nova’s tongue, but none of those
cuts (nor others in her esophagus) were serious enough to require surgical
repair.

Total cost: $2100. Fortunately, Nova’s owner has pet health
insurance. Since she had another vet visit earlier this year and has already
spent the $250 deductible for 2019, she will receive a reimbursement from the
insurance company for 90 percent of the most recent bill.

Nova’s owner reports: “I have learned my lesson; my counters
are the cleanest in the county and there won’t ever be a mistake made like this
again. Also, no more tennis balls for Nova.”

Another Counter-Surfing Case

The same afternoon that my friend was picking up Nova after
her procedure, I received a text from another friend! “Ricky ate Chaco’s pain
meds. We are at (a local vet clinic).”

While ALL medications should be kept in kitchen or bathroom
cabinets – never on counters that dogs can reach – this is especially true of
chewable medications. Most dogs won’t eat more than one nasty-tasting pill they
find lying around. But the chewable kind tempts many dogs into eating the whole
bottle – and that’s what Ricky did. He ate about eight Deramaxx pills, a
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) that can cause liver damage if an
overdose is consumed.

chewed-up medicine bottle
The medicine Ricky ate

Again, fortunately, my friend discovered the chewed-up,
empty bottle right away, and drove immediately to a veterinary hospital, where
they administered an injection of apomorphine, which makes dogs almost
instantaneously vomit. So Ricky has (apparently) suffered no ill effects, and
the bill was a quite reasonable $170 (no insurance).

We’re All Susceptible

Lest anyone think I am judging my friends: I, too, once had
a dog eat a whole bottle of chewable medication meant for another dog (I
wrote about that in 2013!
). The experience made me VERY careful about where
I put medications.

Protecting our dogs is an ongoing, complex task, and none of
us can prevent every potentially fatal accident. But all of these were
preventable – and my sister and friends 
and I all hope that these stories make you just that much more alert and
able to prevent any of these accidents from befalling your dogs!

In case you want to learn about more ways to avoid a trip to
the veterinary ER, here
is a link
to an article that veterinarian Catherine Ashe (who practiced
emergency veterinary medicine for nine years) wrote for us last year.





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