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 dogdishdiet . com for more practical tips and to order his book Dog Dish Diet .