Gilroy Today 2009 09 Fall - Page 5

Avoiding emergency room blues… by Dr. Greg Martinez, Gilroy Veterinary Hospital Animals, much like humans, seem to find the most inopportune times to become ill. And as unnerving as it is to realize that Fido or Fluffy just isn’t going to snap out of it, your stress level may increase greatly when you realize that it is after clinic hours so you have to seek emergency care. If your pet seems very sick, in pain, or is bleeding you will have to seek help. The best course of action is to not panic and get your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. Emergency veterinary clinics are staffed 24/7 with veterinarians that specialize in trauma and critical care, along with a staff of registered veterinary technicians. Emergency costs can add up even if the problem turns out to be not all that serious. An exam, a couple tests, and medication can easily run several hundred dollars. The good news is that your sick or injured pet will get immediate attention. The bad news is that it will cost you. If the symptoms are not severe, however, there are two options to consider: 1) Get an exam at the emergency clinic but delay treatment until your vet opens the next day (where the same treatment may be less costly), or 2) Use over-the-counter medication and see if the symptoms improve. Things to do before you decide to take a trip to the Emergency Room: A dog or cat that is drooling, nauseous, or vomiting often responds with a Pepcid (famotidine) ¼ tablet per 10 pounds, once daily. If your dog or cat looks pretty normal, but has vomited a couple times in a short period, or is eating lots of grass, the Pepcid may help make them feel better. Remember, vomiting in a young pup could signal a parvovirus infection or other severe medical or surgical problems. If you feel that your pet is really sick, do not delay seeking treatment. Many dogs like to chase and eat bees and wasps and can get rewarded with a nice sting and ugly swelling on their lips and face that can make a Doxie look like a Shar Pei. This same syndrome can occur from allergic reactions to a new food or treat. This swelling looks ugly, but rarely causes problems breathing. If the swelling is severe or scary, proceed to the closest emergency clinic. If you would like to try an over-the-counter medication, Benadryl or Claritin will slow the swelling, and things should return to normal within 12 hours — Benadryl, 1pill per 30 pound 2-3 times daily and Claritin, 1pill per 30 pounds daily. Dogs overdo it on occasion when a new friend or activity drives them to play extra hard and strain a joint, throw out their back, or pull a muscle. Middle-age dogs will do the same thing jumping off the bed or sofa. Dogs with these injuries will not move much, shiver, and often “yip” when they are picked up. One 300 mg adult aspirin per 30 pounds twice daily can help with the discomfort and pain. One baby aspirin per 10 pounds will work for the babies and toy breeds. Red raw skin and red inflamed ears can be due to allergic reactions that can cause lots of pain and itching. If you think the symptoms can wait until your vet opens, you can use Benadryl and aspirin at the dosage mentioned above. Hydrocortisone cream rubbed on the red area will work to decrease pain and inflammation. Cuts and abscesses look terrible but you can clean both up with warm soapy water and wait until the next day as long as the wound isn’t bleeding or involving critical areas. If there is any doubt to the severity of the problem, there is no decision to make — take your beloved pet to the vet. Dr. Greg Martinez, DVM, has served the veterinary needs of Gilroy and the Santa Clara Valley for 30 years. He is a partner with Dennis Harrigan in the Gilroy Veterinary Hospital located at 9565 Monterey Highway. He is active in the community and loves helping teach veterinary science at Gilroy High School. Visit for more practical tips and to order his book Dog Dish Diet. FALL 2009 GILROY TODAY 5