Meet Rony. He is a 4-year-old German Shepherd, working with the patrol and narcotics divisions of the Nashua Police Department. Rony’s story is an example of how even the most cared for animals can still have accidents and need emergency care.
Rony was brought to AMC for heat stroke. He was in his pen, waiting to start his shift at work, when his collar became stuck on fencing. In his insistent struggle to get loose, he severely overheated himself, leading to heat stroke. Though he was only alone for 45 minutes, he was in critical condition when arriving at our facility.
Rony came to us with a temperature of 109.8 degrees (normal temperature for a dog is between 98 and 102 degrees). Exhausted and weary, he was unable to stand or even hold up his head. He had multiple puncture wounds in his tongue and abrasions over his face and neck. Rony’s vital signs and blood work revealed that he was dehydrated, hypoglycemic and going into shock.
Efforts to cool Rony down were started immediately and boluses of IV fluids were given. A heat stroke patient should not be cooled down too quickly (i.e. ice filled bath tubs) or cooled down to a body temperature below 103 degrees because during heat stroke the patient’s body loses the ability to regulate a normal body temperature. If cooled too aggressively, or to a normal temperature, the patient will then become hypothermic.
Rony was given dextrose supplements to increase his blood sugar and multiple antibiotics were given intravenously to protect his system from the oncoming damage of heat stroke. Another complication of heat stroke is sloughing of the GI tract (lining of the intestines is broken down and passed into the stool) which not only allows bacteria to get into the blood stream, but also causes dehydration to significantly worsen.
One of the most detrimental complications of heat stroke is called DIC. The body is so damaged by the heat that it uses up all of its coagulation factors (clotting ability) to repair the damage. This leaves the body with no way to prevent bleeding, which occurs normally in our pets’ bodies. Therefore the patient begins to ‘bleed out’ and is unable to clot. Bruising occurs on multiple parts of the body such as the ears, skin on the abdomen, and gums. Bleeding that occurs within the chest or abdomen is not visible. Plasma transfusions can help prevent this deadly complication.
A few hours after Rony’s arrival, he was in need of a plasma transfusion. He received multiple plasma transfusions over the course of his stay at AMC, to slow the effects of his bleeding. It took several days for Rony’s body to regenerate what it lost.
Rony had also been affected neurologically by the heat and was not able to respond normally to his handler, our staff, or any other active stimulus. The type of brain damage that Rony experienced is sometimes permanent if not treated quickly and aggressively.
Over the next few days, due to immediate action by the Nashua Police Department and assertive emergency care at AMC, Rony’s condition began to improve. Neurologically, he returned to normal, his bloodwork normalized, and soon he had a complete and successful recovery.
After Rony’s triumphant recovery, he was fully able to return to duty with no detrimental effects. Currently, Rony is back in action, protecting and serving the city of Nashua, New Hampshire.
Meeko, a thirteen-year-old Shih Tzu, was transferred to AMC by her family veterinarian for surgery to remove a ¾-inch chicken bone lodged in her small stomach. Meeko was also being treated for Cushing’s disease (over active adrenal glands) and skin allergies; otherwise, she was a happy and healthy dog.
Meeko remained strong during her surgery and was recovering well, but her resolute spirit started to decline. She refused to eat for our technicians and experienced harsh vomiting. We performed an abdominal ultrasound to search for the cause of her symptoms, and to be sure that her surgery site was healing properly. We found that Meeko had developed severe pancreatitis, a disease that can range from mild vomiting and diarrhea, to severe and life threatening symptoms.
Meeko continued to decline. We determined that she had developed SIRS (systemic inflammatory response syndrome) and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), both potentially fatal conditions. Meeko was placed under oxygen support and was administered a fresh frozen plasma transfusion; her therapy required 24-hour care.
During her care in ICU, Meeko was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, a condition requiring opposite treatment from that of Cushing’s Disease, and we were challenged to develop a delicate balance of therapy. Meeko had undergone surgery and her body was battling pancreatitis along with its complications. She was certainly under a large amount of stress. Therefore, in additional to our existent supportive care, we began treatment for Addison’s Disease by regulating her electrolytes and administering medications to mimic her “stress hormones.”
After multiple days of intensive, critical care, Meeko finally showed signs of improvement. She started barking at all the ICU staff, and she begged to be taken out of her cage. Of course, we were all excited to see a happy Meeko. She continues to be monitored by our internal medicine specialist and her own family veterinarian. Meeko is doing well at home, providing love and companionship to her owners. They tell us she is like a puppy again!
Elmo was transferred to us by his family veterinarian. The struggling little poodle was trampled by a deer earlier that day. Elmo arrived at the office of his family veterinarian with a pneumothorax (a collapsed lung), and a possible flail chest.
Although Elmo’s experience was traumatic, he arrived at our facility in a reasonably stable state. Excluding the serious injuries, he was alert, responsive, and mobile.
Final diagnosis was blunt trauma to the right thoracic wall with costal separations, and a pneumothorax. Necessary surgery included debridement and lavage, thoracic wall reconstruction, and placement of a thoracic tube.
Elmo pulled through his surgery triumphantly. He is settling comfortably back at home, but will need to be on strict confinement until he fully heals. Elmo’s family is happy to hear the pitter patter of paws around the house again.