Common pet injuries and dealing with them
The motivation for this article was provided by Rosco, my Jack Russell Terrier, who passed away from lymphoma about a year and a half ago.
How is lymphoma connected to injuries in pets, one might ask. The answer would be that there are few connections. I had to mention this, though, because we discovered his lymphoma through his paw injury.
Rosco had an injured paw that would not stop its profuse bleeding, no matter what how we bandaged it or the vets tried to help with skilled bandaging.. As we worried about how to stem the bleeding, a lump between his paws simply grew bigger and bigger, which we established was lymphoma. It was malignant, so spread quickly and Rosco departed within a quick month.
The profuse bleeding Rosco suffered during the time led me to thinking about how pets sustain injuries that should be treated as quickly as possible for the safety of our pets. I had to send Rosco in to the only Emergency Veterinarian in Singapore at 4 a.m. in the morning, and if Singapore is not as small as it is I would have had to treat it first.
By virtue of that food for thought, here is a short article on the injuries our pets are susceptible to suffer and things to note when giving them treatment. I also come bearing the gift of a few pet safety tips!
Common injuries in our pets
Our pets will be prone to certain kinds of injuries sustainable as they run about on the streets, in yards or in parks. They may suffer wounds as they meet with other dogs and cats, or simply by rolling or jumping around.
Here are some of the more common ones and some things to note when giving our pets treatment.
Fight wounds sustained by animals during their tussles are their leading causes of injuries.
A more effective way of preventing fight lacerations and wounds would start with pet owners being aware of their pet’s environment. If you live close to a forested area, ensure that your pet is in the house at night to prevent a run in with a wild animal. Note that an animal in pain would be more aggressive. An older West Highland Terrier I once owned literally snapped off my mothers finger while she was trying to give it medicine, because it was hurt.
This usually happens when your pet’s foot gets stuck underneath a rug or anywhere else and he tries to wrench it free. A warning that these usually lead to a profuse outpouring of blood, though they might not be as serious as they look. The blood flow leads from the quick area of the pet’s nail that might have been lacerated. Stay calm and bring the animal as soon as possible to the vet for treatment.
Scratches or grazes. These are not serious by the sound of it.
They can be, though, if your pet has been dragged by a heavy object over a long distance, like a car. Abrasions on the belly can be deep and require stitching. To establish whether they require emergency care, consult a veterinarian.
Eye injuries from being poked or coming into contact with foreign objects are both dangerous and unhygienic. Corneal ulcers can form when a foreign object enters the eye but does not quite pass through the cornea.
Eye injuries are categorized into simple and complicated areas. An injury is simple when only the cornea has been punctured, but is classified as more severe when other structures of the eye are involved.
You can tell if your pet has a corneal laceration if its eye suddenly looks a little cloudy. There would usually be a perceptible foreign object within and its pupils would be dilated. The eye would be protruding. Its pupils would also be distorted.
If your pet has sustained an eye injury, stay calm and bring it to the vet. Veterinarians would usually look for naturally occurring afflictions of the eye, like ulcers before looking for signs of trauma. He would usually also look for whether your pet evades threatening objects brought close to the eye or bright light.
Most surface eye injuries require atropine or eye solutions. The more severe the injury, the less salvageable the cornea, and the greater the need for surgery.
Punctures from foreign objects
Our pets are lower to the ground and more open to punctures from foreign objects entering the skin, especially on unprotected footpads. These can be a little tricky because the foreign object, like a needle, can be tiny and difficult to detect. It can be hard to tell that it is that object that is making our pets feel pain or sick.
These can be dangerous especially since these objects can, as the pet moves around, travel all the way to its internal organs.
To prevent the intrusion of such objects, do examine your pet thoroughly after its walks.
Watch out for bees’ or hornets’ nests in your backyard. Pets love play, so they might run into the nest inadvertently.
To treat stings, anti-inflammatory medication might be introduced. Severe stings would require surgery.
These are not as common here in Singapore, where most of us live in high rise housing. If the owner and pet live on landed property, the likelihood of running into a poisonous coral snake might be there.
Some areas in the United States are prone to visits from Water Moccasins and Rattlesnakes. Do protect your pet if you know that the area you live in has reptilian residents.
Fortunately, most of these snake wounds are not as life threatening as deemed. If your pet becomes the victim of a snake bite, do keep calm and get it to the vet as soon as possible.
These are caused by the overstretching,tearing or dislocation of a ligament.
If your dog has a sprain, confine it to a small area and restrict its movements as pets would be apt to get restless, especially when injured. Apply cold packs to the joint for 15 to 20 minutes for the first 24 hours. After that, secure the pack over the joint with a loose gauze wrap.
An alternate method is to run cold water over the joint, three to four times a day. The vet might prescribe Analgesics to relieve the pain.
Sporting dogs that run a lot tend to experience tendon injuries. Tendons of the forepaws are usually strained most often.
Treatment of a strained tendon would be the same as for sprains, but if it is ruptured, it would need surgical treatment.
Pets are prone to ingesting anything they come across and are vulnerable to poisoning. Chemicals within reach are hazardous, as are poisonous plants grown in the garden.
In frosty winters, anti freeze products can also be a danger to our pets. We can prevent poisoning by:
using products and medication designed for pets
keeping medication out of reach
washing anti freeze or deicers off paws
eliminate the use of rat poisons (there are better ways to trap rats)
keeping pets out of reach of poisonous household plants
keeping them out of detergents and other household items. \
secure trash cans that pets might rummage.
Other safety tips
Aside from the tips to prevent poisoning stated above, here are a few reminders to prevent eye and ligament injuries.
Do not encourage aggressive play.
If you have two dogs, or a dog who plays frequently with others, do not let the play become a nip or biting challenge. When it does, it might become aggressive and lead to bite injuries.
Watch out for tiny, sharp objects.
A small needle that drops to the ground or a loose, hidden nail at the back of a chair tends not to be immediately visible. Watch for these tiny objects that tend to make their way to the floor and keep them out of the reach of naughty pets.
Examine footpads after walks.
Footpads are where abrasions tend to occur, and sharp objects make their entrance. Do examine your pets footpads after walks.
Keep a clear yard.
By this, I mean to free your yard of dangerous sharp objects like rakes or nails, which would be hazardous to pets.
Do not let your pet jump to high places.
My west highland white terrier loves climbing onto the very top of the sofa and I still wonder how she manages to maintain her balance. A lot of time is spent telling her “no.” and being assertive.
Jumping to high places can cause serious injury, made even more so if your dog is pregnant.
Handling pet injuries can be made simple if prevention is ensured. It would mean regular observation to ensure your pet’s environment is safe.
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