Sunday, February 6, 2011

Murphy's Law

     "Anything that can go wrong will" is a 20th and 21st century cultural eponym.  Often when faced with less than satisfactory circumstances this eponym is used to describe the frustration of broken machinery, lack of planning, acts of God... It is also used as a warning to plan, plan, plan, and plan for the worst.  Planning for the worst and hoping for the best are a good rule of thumb, especially if you own pets.
Pre surgery, broken femur

       One of the components to our pet emergency plan (yes, we have one!) is to use veterinary services that provide after hours emergency care.  I cannot over emphasize how important I think this is!   If your vet does not have 24 hour or on-call care, it would be wise to establish a relationship with a secondary vet for that purpose as many on-call vets will only see animals/families that are already clients.As safe as we try to keep our animals, life happens.  We have used our after hours vet care several times and could have lost a dog without the wonderful vet care they received.  When Zeus was still alive we were very conscious of his chest shape, deep barrel.  Dog's with shape chest are much more prone to bloat.  We did everything we could to manage his food and water intake to lower the chances of this occurring.  However, around midnight several years ago, Zeus presented with all the "typical" distress signals associated with bloat.  We were able to meet our vet after hours and receive the proper services.  Last Tuesday evening we were again in need of Magic Valley Vet's after hour emergency care.  Cash's best buddy, Sassy, dug under a fence (we think) and took herself for a walk.  Unfortunately, a motorist collided with Sassy.  Sassy's family had just returned home from a short outing and set their emergency plan into motion.  They called us to drive for them and to contact the vet's office.  Sassy was able to receive emergency care within 20 min of the accident. Fortunately, Sassy's injuries could be fixed with surgery. 

Repaired femur; pelvis fractures will have to heal on their own
       The second part of Sassy's story is Sun Valley Animal Center.  They can be found here Dr. Randy Acker is a world class orthopedic surgeon that lives in Ketchum, Idaho.  He pioneered the TATE elbow and is a leading surgeon in hip replacement, TPLO, and fracture repair.  Zeus had two TPLO surgeries performed by Dr. Acker and one of our Moonsong dogs, Mika, is two weeks post op from a TPLO.  (Mika's story can be found here: ).  Dr. Acker pined Sassy's femur back together and she is now on the road to recovery.
Side view of Sassy's repair
Let me be very clear, this family did not place their dog in harms way or under think her containment.  That is my point, things can happen even with well laid plans and the best containment systems.  Life happens.   If you own a pet you need to decide (along with other family members) how to handle emergencies.
1. Find a vet with 24 hour or after hour care
2. Form an action plan: who can drive you and your pet to the vet, who will call the vet, how will you move an injured animal?
3. Finances: What can you reasonably afford to pay a vet in the case of an emergency? (In a situation like Sassy's, cost may rage from $2000 to $3000).
4. Replan, plan, plan: Discuss what, if anything, could change so you don't find yourself in the same situation
Sassy's confinement area for 2 weeks.  She is resting comfortably and enjoying her pain meds:)

Sassy toe-touching.  She has road-rash on her head, arms, and side
        Last, every pet owner should have a basic pet first aid kit.  The contents of your kit may change depending on where you live and the activities you enjoy, but should travel with the dog on any adventure.  Dr. Acker had a great book entitled, "The Field Guide to Dog First Aid" and has a sporting/hunting specialty first aid book, too.  Owning some sort of first aid guide book is important, too.  Some vet's offices provide dog first aid and CPR course that are a worthwhile investment for dog owners.  I can't even tell you how many times we have pulled our emergency kit to remove ticks, goat-heads, porcupine quills (yes Cash stepped on a discarded quill!), cactus stickers, or had to patch a cut foot, torn toe nail, during an outing.                          

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