Saturday, October 6, 2012

stick.... stuck

your Lebanon, NH 24-hour emergency vet

This post is for all of you dogs out there who have the luxury of being "leash-free". That's right, you know who you are, those of us that fly through the woods at an amazing speed, throwing caution to the wind, sniffing out every strange smelling smell that enters our noses. We jump and leap, weave in and out, leave no rock unturned, no stream un-splashed!

Apart from the common danger of getting lost, encountering a porcupine, or even stepping on glass,  our speed and agility puts us in a very vulnerable position.

Sticks. That's right, sticks! We love sticks, we love to lay in the yard and chew them, beg for you to throw them, we love sticks.

At least once a week a poor friend comes through the door of Small Animal Veterinary Emergency Services with a stick wound. Sometimes it is simply cuts or bruises, but even more common are the penetrating wounds. We see sticks lodged through the back of the throat (we always run with our mouths open and tongue hanging out) sticks through legs and feet, and most seriously, sticks impaled in the chest.

If your dog is impaled by a stick in the chest, do not remove it. Carefully get him to the emergency hospital as quickly as possible. STAY CALM! We sense your anxiety which in turn upsets us even more.

If the stick falls out, you will probably hear air leaking from your dog, it may bubble and bloody. This is a true emergency,  I call it  a "sucking chest wound" (there are fancier names but I'm a dog).

So whats a little more air? Well the chest is pressurized, and in order for the lungs to expand and contract this pressure must remain constant. When air enters the chest through a hole from the outside, this changes the pressure in the chest and the lungs will then collapse. Collapsed lungs are a serious situation, suffocation becomes a real danger.

You must seal the wound to stop the air from entering the chest. This can be accomplished with a small piece of plastic such as a sandwich baggie or clean piece of a garbage bag. You want to place the plastic over the hole and tape it on three sides leaving the fourth side so that air can escape if need be. This will help restore the pressure in the chest, help keep the lungs inflated, and ease your pet's breathing until you can get veterinary help.

This is a real situation and it happens so much more frequently then you could imagine. If you are interested in learning more about first aid and emergency care for your pet, for those crucial moments before you can get him to the veterinarian, please contact S.A.V.E.S. or watch for future posts on free classes that are going to be held at the beginning of 2013 on pet first aid.
Tata for now,