Pet Emergency Clinic

SW Louisiana's After Hours Pet Hospital!

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Current helpful pet owner info from the viewpoint of Dr. John Emerson.

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PICKUPS AND DOGS

Posted by petemergencyclinic on March 10, 2015 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (3)

 


Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

I recently read an article in the American Press describing the attempt to add a state law requiring dogs to be "secured" in pickup trucks and making it illegal for them to be loose in a moving truckbed. Believe it or not, the governor had seen to it that the law was not passed. I will say that I am surprised, since this seems to make pretty good sense. This would be good for the dogs, the owners, and maybe for the hapless trailing driver who crashes trying to avoid the flying dog on the highway.

 

Though the law may not require it, I urge you to secure your dogs when in the bed of a moving pickup truck. I have treated so many for major injuries acquired this way. (I do admit that, like any ER vet, I enjoy helping a trauma patient. It can be very rewarding to save a life. But really, do you want to CREATE your own expensive, dangerous trauma for no real reason? And to possibly hurt a human too?) So secure your traveling pets.

 

Also, on the securing front, secure your outdoor pets. If everyone stopped his or her outdoor pets from running free and unleashed, our ER trauma count would be reduced. I recently treated a heartbreaking case of a beloved pet being hit by car. He was hurt too badly to survive. There is just so much anyone can do with trauma and some of these cases will die.

 

Easy fix. Keep your pet leashed!

 

So, enough said. Be safe and have a happy Easter!

 

If illness occurs after hours, Pet Emergency Clinic is there to help! 337-562-0400 .

 

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

 

RATHER BE SHOT THAN HAVE A "SHOT"?

Posted by petemergencyclinic on February 27, 2015 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)


 

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

This week's update is to take up the subject of vaccination.

 

Lately, there has been lots of discussion on the topic of over-vaccination of both humans and pets and I believe that some of this info is real. Overvaccination could possibly cause problems, autoimmune disease (diseases in which the body attacks itself), and other diseases. But, appropriate vaccination is very important in preventing otherwise terrible diseases in a body.

 

You can read in the papers about certain unvaccinated children infecting other children because the parents were totally against vaccination in general. And you read about people and animals that become illl later in life, possibly related to excessive vaccination. (I confess, that I refuse to get the flu vaccine, since I believe that it could get me sick and is not necessarily effective.)

 

How does this relate to pet vaccines?

There has been some information coming from veterinarty message boards that I subscribe to reporting certain well-vaccinated show dogs breaking with Parvo virus after attending a show. (Parvo is a severe, life-threatening disease that causes a foul, bloody diarrhea and often death) These animals had supposedly been vaccinated with a full series BY A VETERINARIAN, and yet had still broken with disease.

 

Recently, I treated a 7 month-old Labrador, fully vaccinated by a DVM, for what was thought to be ingestion of a toxin. But his blood testing showed a very low white blood cell count, which did not fit toxin but maybe fit Parvo. We tested the dog, and he was Parvo POSITIVE.

 

So, what is the take-home point?

 

1-Communicate with your DVM about vaccine protocols and be sure that your pet gets the latest.

2-Be sure that you follow your DVM's vaccine schedule, to the letter, to ensure best chance at immunity.

3-Feedstore or tractor supply vaccines are usually ineffective, so be sure you get the real thing delivered by your trusted DVM for best results

4-No medical product is perfect, including vaccines. So be sure that your pet's housing and nutrition are excellent. This reduces stress and allows the immune system to function better.

5-Do not take a "blanket stand" on vaccination. That is, do not determine that all vaccination is bad and therefore not do any. Rather, research vaccination and determine for yourself how you will proceed. (Your DVM is your expert on this. He/she is probably up to date on the latest and has a vested interest in your pet doing well. Use your own expert.

 

And if illness occurs after hours, Pet Emergency Clinic is there to help! 337-562-0400 .

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

 

BLOAT IS NOT JUST FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER

Posted by petemergencyclinic on February 22, 2015 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)



Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

I keep up with our recent themes of food, eating, what is good, what is bad, etc., I want to bring up the topic of BLOAT.

 

Recently, I treated 4 pets that either had symptoms directly caused by food bloat or that food bloat complicated other symptoms.

 

What do I mean when I say FOOD BLOAT? Generally, this refers to when the pet eats an excessive amount of food to the degree that the stomach, and maybe the first part of the small intestine, are overly filled, causing discomfort and maybe worse.

 

In the case of one dog with heart disease but no symptoms, the pressure on the diaphragm from the bloat probably triggered heart symptoms.

 

Why does this happen? I am not totally sure, but dogs will "gorge" when given the chance. Maybe it relates to their distant past in the wild, when they may not have eaten for 2-3 days, then got a meal, and had to eat fast to ensure getting a share.

 

What do we do to make it worse? Generally, when we feed a bowl full of dry food once per day, we are more likely to see this condition. The pet gorges and eats a lot of the dry food, then drinks water. The dry food kibbles, already filling the stomach, swell dramatically with the water, and now the stomach is over-full.

 

Usually the over-full stomach is just a nuisance, but in some cases it can cause dehydration as fluid from the body is directed to the stomach, and in certain, usually large breeds, the over-full stomach may then twist and can then cause death without immediate surgery.

 

So, what to do about feeding?

 

1) Feed multiple meals, at LEAST two, daily, to reduce "gorging."

2) You may want to water-soak dry food 5 minutes prior to feeding to allow the kibbles to swell prior to entering the stomach.

3) If you have one of the breeds (Great Danes esp. and others) that tend to bloat and twist, ask your DVM about "tacking" the stomach into the correct place so it will not twist. (It can still bloat) If your dog is a female, it may be done at the spay. In a male, it would probably be a surgery in its own right.

4) Feed only a high quality diet, as these are often more digestible. I again mention that any diet with the word Blue in its name likely will eventually be a problem, so avoid them.

 

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

WHY DO SYMPTOMS SUDDENLY APPEAR

Posted by petemergencyclinic on February 4, 2015 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)


 

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

I recently treated 2 very difficult, humbling cases that reminded me that medicine can be very difficult at times.

 

On one, an older dog with known severe heart murmur for years but no symptoms, symptoms suddenly turned on and the pet was weak and breathing hard. But, we found one other major problem that COULD have been causing the symptoms, so I initially allowed myself to be sidetracked from the more obvious diagnosis. I was also influenced by the fact that the pet's highly-respected regular DVM had seen the dog 4 weeks earlier and found the heart to be stable. Fortunately, we finally got onto the right track, realizing that the previously-stable condition had destabilized. We got the correct treatment going and the pet is now doing better on heart medicine.

 

In another case of a dog whose owners were visiting from out-of town, the very overweight large breed presented in an extreme breathing crisis. It was so severe that oxygen and light sedation could not stop the tongue from turning blue, and we finally had to resort to actual gas anesthesia with a tracheal tube to stop the cycle.

 

When we were finally able to slow down life-saving measures enough to look for a cause, we determined that the problem was mostly the heart. And again, though this had probably been coming on for some time, the owners had no expectation that it would occur. This pet, fortunately, went home alive as well.

 

So, what makes a problem that has been brewing suddenly show severe symptoms?

 

Often we do not know, but we do know that every major problem will eventually BREAK and show symptoms. It may be stress, it may be excitement, it may be some situation that demands more from the affected organ than it can provide. But, at some point, symptoms will occur. And it does make us question our diagnosis when an animal with a known but previously-asymptomatic problem suddenly shows severe symptoms.

 

So, what can you do? If your pet has a chronic condition, even if it has been stable, point it out to the ER doctor. It may have decompensated. Watch your pet with chronic but stable conditions closely. If you catch coming symptoms early, we have a good chance of pushing your pet back onto the good side of the precipice.

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.


Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

Sticks and Stones May Hurt you, but Stuck Stones Make Red Urine

Posted by petemergencyclinic on January 28, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)


 

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

Frequently at the Emergency Clinic, we treat pets whose owners see blood in the urine. They also may see the pet straining to urinate. (Sometimes the straining to urinate occurs in the house, which becomes another problem itself!)

 

Most people self-diagnose urinary tract infection, or UTI, and they are often right. But in many cases, there is something else going on in addition....

 

Recently, I treated a dog who lives in Houston, but was in Lake Charles visiting. He presented with bloody urine and straining. On physical exam, the well-cared-for Schnauzer did not seem to feel very bad, and looked great, except for one problem. When I felt his bladder, the bladder felt like a bag of marbles rather than the normal soft, fluid-filled sac. The owners consented to X rays, and we were able to easily see the bladder full of stones.

 

But what the X ray also showed caused us to go to surgery faster than usual. The very nice pet had a stone in his urethra, which is the narrow tube connecting the bladder to outside. When a stone is in the urethra, there is real danger that the urethra will become obstructed, which is immediately life-threatening. So, the owners opted for surgery right away. The urethra was cleared, the stones removed, and the pet did very well. And I had the topic for this week's update: Bloody Urine.

 

Bloody urine in a dog is usually a bladder infection but there MAY be stones present. An X ray is definitely appropriate.

If stones ARE found, it is not a given that surgery must be done in a hurry, but it usually must be done eventually.

 

Bloody urine in a younger cat is often NOT an infection and antibiotics are not always appropriate. With cats, this may be stress-related more than anything else.

 

Male cats get urinary obstructions (plugged toms) which are life-threatening.

 

Finally, whenever stones are recovered, they should be sent in for analysis. Knowing the exact stone present helps your DVM better understand the correct treatment, whether it be a special diet, or meds, or whatever.

 

If you see your pet producing bloody urine and/or straining, get the pet to a DVM ASAP!

 

So, you see, bloody urine can be more of a bloody problem than you may have thought!

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

SOMETIMES WE JUST DON'T KNOW

Posted by petemergencyclinic on January 25, 2015 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)


 

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

In medicine, it is understood that getting a diagnosis is very very important. If you have that diagnosis, then you know more what to expect and exactly how the treatment should be done.

 

Yet on a recent shift, I had three very major cases that each involved severe illness, that each got better, and that each did not surrender a firm diagnosis. What am I saying? Am I the weakest diagnostician on the planet? (Maybe- But that's not the point)

 

The point is that we see cases at ER (and in all medicine) in which the patient gets better, thankfully, and for which we may never get a firm diagnosis.

 

Though still behind human medicine, veterinary medicine has made considerable advances, especially in the last 15 years, in our ability to diagnose. More and more, pet owners are allowing us to run diagnostic testing such as bloodwork, X ray, and ultrasound. So, of course, we like to get that diagnosis.

 

Given that, how can we not get an exact answer when full diagnostics are approved and performed?

 

There is no one simple answer. But in a living animal, there are many many conditions which overlap and things are not always clear, despite good workup. Also, some of our patients do not read the book and do not respond exactly as we expect. (If you watched the show HOUSE, MD, you noticed good examples of just how hard it can be to get an exact answer in a medical case.)

 

So, what is the benefit of those non-diagnostic diagnostics and how do we handle those difficult cases?

 

Well, the non-diagnostic diagnostics are still very very valuable, in that they, at the least, tell us a number of things that are definitely NOT occuring.

 

Using the knowledge of all of our diagnostics, history, and physical, we can formulate a plan that is reasonable and gives your pet a decent chance, despite lack of definitive diagnosis.

 

Sometimes I am asked why a diagnosis may be made a few days after initial presentation when it did not show up initially. The only answer is that, after time passes, the symptoms and lab values show and become more evident. The later attending DVM now looks like a genius, I guess.

 

So, when your DVM says she doesn't know EXACTLY what disease is present, understand that this is not all bad and your pet still has a decent chance to do fine.

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

HE'S POISONED, DOC. (And I know who did it)

Posted by petemergencyclinic on January 9, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)


Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

There are lots and lots of poisons and toxins out here in the real world and we see many pets who the owners suspect were poisoned. Many owners believe that we can run a simple blood test that will tell us exactly what poison was ingested and therefore exactly how to treat it.

 

Unfortunately, there is not one blood test that will tell us exactly what poison is present or IF one is present. (There ARE some tests that can be run to confirm that a particular suspected poison is or is not present. But this usually does not help us at ER when we see your pet.)

 

My best advice about poisons follows:

1) The smartest plan with poisons is to avoid. Puppy or kitty proof your home. Keep your outdoors pets confined.

2) If you do put out poison of some sort, REMEMBER that you did. Often, we delay treating a pet for rat poison when the owner forgot she had put the poison out.

3) Speaking of rat poison, if your pet ingests it, we MUST know exactly what product it was. The anti-coagulant rat poisons we have fought for years are very slow moving and very very treatable. Some of the newer types are fast and have no practical antidotes.

4) If you change your own antifreeze, remember that antifreeze is deadly toxic and tastes great to pets. Do not leave it out.

5) If your pet ingests a poison, a prescription med, or even an illegal med in some cases, get to ER QUICKLY. Usually if we can induce vomiting rapidly, the product may not have a chance to do much harm. CONFESS to us about whatever it is. We are not law enforcement. We just want to help your pet.

 

Other things...

Some things that you may not know are poisons...

Onions, grapes or raisins, homemade playdough, paintballs, Gorilla glue, sugar-free gum (or anything sweetened with xylitol,) and the list goes on.

 

Possibly the number one toxin to dogs may be Ibuprofen. There is a published veterinary dosage for it (a VERY low dose), but most people use it to excess

and thereby create severe damage. Avoid it. We have far superior veterinary products that both work and are safer.

 

Tylenol is death to cats, and not a great idea in dogs, in my opinion.

 

So, unless you KNOW FOR A FACT that a human drug is fine for your pet, and you KNOW FOR A FACT the correct dose, DO NOT USE a human product on your pet. (Incidentally, I had to discuss this with a pharmacist friend, who was recommending an inappropriate drug at an inappropriate dose for a mutual client's dog. Many pharmacists have very little training on veterinary use of drugs)

 

So, there you have it. A very brief overview of poisoning. There are hundreds of ways for your pet to be poisoned, though most of them are more from our own errors rather than from anything malicious. If you believe that your pet may have been poisoned, get help NOW. After hours, at the Pet ER. 337-562-0400.

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

 

EAT YOUR LIVER....

Posted by petemergencyclinic on January 6, 2015 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)


 

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

I recently treated an older dog who was very ill and feeling and looking bad. Laboratory testing showed that the liver enzymes were extremely high and the pancreas (organ attached to the small intestine that secretes digestive enzymes) was inflamed. We treated the old dog with IV fluids, pain meds, and antibiotics, and she was hospitalized for 3 days.

 

So I thought that this would be a good opportunity to discuss the famous liver with you.

 

What is the liver? It is an organ in the front part of the pet's abdomen that is essentially a blood filter. Red blood cells pick up oxygen from the lungs and are then pumped by the heart to body organs. The red blood cells deliver that oxygen, which powers the organ's cells. The red cells then pick up waste products from those same organ cells. (An efficient system)

 

This is a fine setup and you can imagine that toxins as well as normal waste all are processed by the liver, so this filter can be placed under a lot of strain. As you can imagine, many toxins and poisons taken in may harm the liver and this may show as elevated liver enzymes on a blood test.

 

An interesting thing about the liver is its amazing ability to regenerate itself. One could remove a large percentage of a liver and it can actually re-grow. An injured liver has a good ability to recover if it is supported with fluids and good medical care.

 

The down side is that we do not have lots of products that can reliably cure a hurt liver. It is all about keeping it going and providing an environment in which the resilient liver can heal itself.

 

As a side note, the very nice dog mentioned above is now home and doing very well, thanks to good medical care and cooperation between the ER and the pet's excellent home clinic veterinarian.

 

So, there you have a very simplified discussion of the liver and its function. (My apologies to your physiologists who prefer lots more detail)

 

If your pet ingests a toxin, or is acting ill in any way at all, get medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment give us the best chance to help your pet.

 

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS...

Posted by petemergencyclinic on December 22, 2014 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)



Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

Christmas is a great season with LOTS going on, to say the least.

 

Many people decide that a new puppy or kitten under the tree on Christmas morning would be a perfect gift. I understand the sentiment, but definitely recommend AGAINST it.

 

Though there is nothing wrong with getting a pet at ANY time, starting on Christmas Day is not ideal. Why?

 

Distractions! On this day, there is so much happening and our attention is so divided, we may not be able to properly tend to our new family member.

 

Puppies and even kittens require our attention, especially at first, and, on this day, it is hard to fully provide it.

 

What to do?

 

I recommend leaving a collar and leash, a carrier, a food bowl, a photograph, etc to serve as a representative of the new pet that will be coming home within a few days, or whenever.

 

Now, you get to keep all the excitement as well as enjoy the beautiful day without guilt. Once things are a little calmer, introduce the pet and let the fun begin again.

 

So, there you have it. How to introduce your new Christmas pet.

 

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

 

GOING THROUGH 'PROGRESSIONS"

Posted by petemergencyclinic on December 17, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)


 

 

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

 

If you are a football fan, then you may know that what separates a great NFL quarterback from just a good one is the great quarterback's ability to go through his "progressions." That is, the pass play may be designed with several possible options. If the first choice receiver is covered and cannot get the pass, the quarterback goes to the second choice. If the secondary receiver is covered, the quarterback goes to the third, etc. The greats like Drew Brees and Payton Manning have such success because they follow a logical progression on each play. In this manner, many so-so plays may turn into good ones.

 

Likewise, in veterinary medicine, we follow progressions on your pet's workup and therapy. The idea is to perform an appropriate amount of workup and treatment, assess how things are going, and then go onto the next steps if necessary or if the problem is not fully correcting. It is not practical financially or time-wise to run every possible test on every patient. Rather, we run the tests and perform the treatment that we believe will yield the most helpful information and give us the best chance to get your pet doing better.

 

At ER, we work through progressions and in some cases, additional progressions are performed by your own DVM, using the information that we at the ER have collected and taking the next logical steps.

 

So, sometimes people ask me why the final diagnosis obtained at the home DVM may differ from the working diagnosis obtained at the ER. The answer is, that, as the case progresses, symptoms become more apparent, additional testing on top of the initial tests are run, the clinical picture of your pet should definitely clarify. It doesn't mean that the ER DVM or your DVM was wrong, It is just that the case progression led down a path to a certain more precise diagnosis.

 

In every case, the ER DVM, you, and your home DVM are a team working closely together to get your pet feeling better.

 

So, just like with star quarterbacks or any other professional, for that matter, your pet's illness will be diagnosed via a set of definite steps, each of which may further clarify what is going on. As always, your home DVM is in charge of your pet's case after the ER handling and every bit of information from the ER goes to your DVM.

 

Together, we have a very good chance of getting your pet better.

 

You CAN do something about pet illness.

 

 

That is all.

 

 

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


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