IN Peters Township October/November 2018 - Page 73

INDUSTRY INSIGHT VETERINARY SERVICES THAT’S THE NATURE OF THE BEAST “T hat’s the nature of the beast!” “Anything is possible!” “That could never happen to me!” These are some common sayings we hear all the time…never thinking we would actually be talking about our household pets. Working in the veterinary emergency department, “anything is possible” is a regular occurrence. There are animals we never think our happy-go-lucky at-home critters will ever meet up with. One of these animals is the prickly porcupine. They live in wooded areas, tend to keep to themselves and on average have approximately 30,000 quills running down their back that actually regrow when lost. When met with a porcupine, your dog will obviously want to do what he does best and use his nose to investigate this strange creature. Unluckily for him, those tiny quills will turn out to be something he will remember forever when they get lodged in his muzzle, neck or shoulders. The porcupine quills have tiny barbs on the ends which make it almost impossible to remove unless taken to the ER. Quills tend to migrate further into the skin and not out, so depending on how many there are or where they’re located depends a lot on what medications he gets, specifically pain medications and antibiotics. They often need treatments ranging from an injection or sedation or a smaller surgery. A lot of the time, the hardest thing for us, and for you to do, is to keep the pet from licking excessively because the quills hurt and your dog just wants them out. If you have an e-collar or something you can put around their head to keep them from licking and rubbing on anything, please use it! Just remember that if you take a little hike through the woods, best to keep the curious pup on a leash! Another crazy but surprisingly common occurrence in nature is when our pets meet an innocent-looking deer. They could be in the backyard while we are enjoying our coffee on the porch or in the woods while taking a beautiful nature hike. Deer have attacked dogs because they are simply curious and got too close but also attacked cats who play with their fawns and that is when mama deer steps in. A deer’s first line of defense is usually kicking with their long legs and their hard sharp hooves. Also, who could forget their sharp pointy antlers! They can absolutely use their antlers to fend off possible enemies, resulting in puncture wounds. The results of this defensive action can be something as simpl e as a scrape or a bruise, or it can be something much more critical such as internal bleeding and large penetrating wounds. These critical injuries most likely require hospital stays and surgeries that can sometimes be fatal. I have seen pets who have met a deer face to face in the ER looking more battered and bruised than those that have gotten hit by a car. It would be a good thing to remember that deer are not always as sweet and innocent as they look. Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center SPONSORED CONTENT By: Rebecca Florig PVSEC/BluePearl Advanced Patient Care Associate and Emergency and Critical Care Supervisor. Not too many people in the world like snakes or wouldn’t be scared if one crossed their path in the wild. We have three venomous snakes in Pennsylvania. Timber Rattlesnakes, Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes, as well as Copperheads can be found if you look hard enough, and sometimes our pets do. Believe it or not, approximately 150,000 emergency visits to the veterinarian are recorded per year due to snake bites. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your pet has been bitten by a snake. The common signs and symptoms to look for are painful to the touch, swelling and redness, weakness and lethargy, and shortness of breath. Something I have seen with a Copperhead bite is blackening of the skin because the tissue is dying. Regrettably for your pet, an encounter with one of these snakes will without doubt land them in the ER for us to treat them and the sooner you get them here the better. So just be on the lookout, especially between the months of April through October because this is when 90% of snake bites occur, if your dog loves to dig in the garden or investigate in the wooded areas, he could meet a not-so-friendly Rattlesnake. It’s pretty hard to be outside and not notice when a skunk is nearby. Once again, curiosity gets the best of our pets. If your dog is routinely off-leash or you have an indoor / outdoor cat, they will be an easy target. Most of the time with ‘skunk attacks,’ your pets don’t actually need to come to the ER. If skunks spray, they generally spray and run away. Other than you having a stinky pet, the most common injury affects the eyes. Don’t get me wrong, they do have extremely sharp and effective claws, but the potency of their spray causes increased tear production as well as extreme redness of the eyes. The last time a dog came through the ER because of a skunk, he could barely open his eyes, had an enormous amount of irritation and was so painful we could barely hold his face for treatment. If you’re lucky enough to stay at home, you can bathe them in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and baking soda to help get them smelling better! Everywhere we look, there’s probably a cat or dog just waiting to get into some trouble! As their owner, remember that nature may look beautiful but be mindful of what could really happen should you encounter a ‘beast’ in the wild! WORKS CITED ASPCA. (2017, August 27). ‘A Prickly Situation: Your Pets Vs. Porcupines.” Retrieved from “” Utah Veterinary Center. (2018). “Dog injured in deer attack recuperating after surgery.” Retrieved from “” Watson, C.D. (2012, April 23). “What To Do If Your Dog Is Bitten By A Snake.” Retrieved from “” Dr. Stewart. (2017, January 29). “Skunks! P.U. – Stinky!” Retrieved from “” South Hills location: 1535 Washington Road, Washington, PA 15301, 724.809.2000 North Hills location: 807 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237, 412.536.5248 Web site: PETERS TOWNSHIP ❘ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 71