In the Trenches: True Tales from an Emergency Room Vet

Boing… Boing… Boing… The white fluffy soccer bounces from
hill to hill with bristly whiskers and that fluffy, cotton
tail in fact. The place is it going to go subsequent? Solely the
limping lagomorph is aware of. It stops for less than a second to scent a
juicy, crunchy carrot, but it surely can not take a nibble attributable to a
throbbing, overgrown tooth. To not point out, a fecal impaction.
However it limps on, hobbling on three fortunate toes, sooner and
sooner till its coronary heart beats uncontrolled …


“Dr. Blom! Dr. Blom! We now have a STAT triage!” I blink my eyes
and abruptly cease eager about that rabbit. Time to modify
gears. In rushes my staff of technicians, wearing gray,
pushing a clacking gurney that holds a really massive Mastiff who
is on his facet, tongue out and lined in grime. He’s
non-responsive, his eyes are beet purple and his tongue has an
unhealthy, purplish hue. Regardless that he’s moist, he’s as scorching as
an oven.


Without delay, like a well-trained brigade, my staff surrounds him.
They apply an oxygen masks, work on an IV catheter and take his
temperature: it’s 107.5 levels Fahrenheit (a canine’s common
temperature is round 101 levels). I stand on the head of the
ship and record my calls for. “Jackie, get a blood glucose and
lactate. Karen, begin a liter LRS bolus at 999; higher but,
seize a strain bag. Annie, get some moist towels!”


There are objects flying, used IV catheters, caps and syringe
circumstances, together with the pungent scent of isopropyl alcohol
splashing on his footpads. Within the chaos, I concentrate on his general
situation; my thoughts is spinning: What’s his temp? What’s his
blood glucose? Oh, it’s solely 53. That’s his blood sugar
and it’s 37 factors too low (a median canine’s is between 90 and


“Carrie, (let me assume, he’s about 100lbs, that’s 3mL per
10lbs); give him 30mL 25 % dextrose and spike his subsequent
bag with 2.5 %.”  What’s his ECG trying like? His
coronary heart is thrashing abnormally and approach too quick. What’s his
coagulation standing (capacity to clot blood) and his renal


“Annie, seize coags and a CHEM 17 profile. Pete, seize me an
ophthalmoscope.” The canine’s pupils are pinpoint; not good I
assume to myself, as this means mind swelling. Is that
bruising on his stomach? This hints at an issue with him being
capable of clot his blood. “Okay guys, preserve cooling him slowly to
103.5 levels Fahrenheit with moist towels, after which cease cooling
efforts.” The place are his house owners?


I depart the battlefield to talk together with his equally purple–eyed
proprietor; she’s hysterical with guilt. She left him tied to a tree
within the yard after a shower and ran to the shop. It was solely
30 minutes … Nicely, five-year-old Duke was not clued into the
plan; he proceeded to try to paw his approach to China to get again
inside for every of the 30 harrowing minutes, till he


It’s Arizona. It’s July. It’s 6:05pm.


“I believe he had a seizure on the way in which right here.”  Undoubtedly
not good.


I begin to clarify to the poor woman warmth stroke, cerebral
edema, DIC and multi-organ failure and all the unhealthy issues
that might occur to Duke within the subsequent two to a few days if he
makes it till morning. And even the subsequent few hours for that
matter. I’m an optimist at coronary heart however I’ve to be a realist
with this proprietor; even tipping the scales to pessimism. “He’s up
in opposition to rather a lot,” I say.  She replies, “He’s like my youngster,
please save him.”


Then, I’ve to deliver up the 500-pound gorilla within the room, the
value of therapy. “I’ll do every thing I can. I would like you to
know that with the two-to-three day estimate to start out, attainable
plasma transfusions, a number of blood panels, a urinary catheter
and intensive care; it’s going to be round $four,000 to five,000.” I
maintain my breath; I would like her to say “sure” with each fragment of
my being. She says, “Simply do it.”


That’s all I wanted to proceed. I jog again to the ICU. Duke’s
temperature is 101.7 levels Fahrenheit; his first liter of
intravenous fluids is full and his blood glucose is 78. I
shout a number of extra orders, not realizing that I’m being somewhat
pushy, but it surely’s no-holds-barred within the animal ER tonight. His
blood strain is an excellent 95 millimeters of mercury and his
coronary heart steadily thumps at 110 beats per minute. Whew. Take a
swig of luke-warm espresso. It’s 7:40pm; it’s going to be an extended
night time. We’ll examine on Duke later.


As I look on the triage board, the record is rising:  


  • Ginger, 3yo feminine spayed Havanese: vomiting
  • Rocky, 11yo male castrated Shih Tzu: cough, congestive
    coronary heart failure
  • Lily, 16yo feminine spayed Home Shorthair: hematuria


Subsequent up, triage for a canine as John radios, “I’m on my approach.”
Right here comes John with a Goldendoodle in tow on a slip leash.
“That is Pearl. She simply ate a bag of darkish chocolate Hershey’s
Kisses. I bought permission to induce vomiting.” I do a bodily
examination on the curly coated pup; boy, these canine are cute, I believe
to myself. “Let’s give her 1.4mg Apo IV. Make sure you feed her a
small can of pet food first, as it will assist make her vomit
extra productively. As well as, please don’t hover, as she
will vomit extra when she shouldn’t be so nervous. Watch her from a


These pearls of knowledge are discovered from years within the area, in
the trenches. Twenty seconds later, out it comes, three massive
piles of chocolate pet food. The scent shouldn’t be so candy. Her
therapy shouldn’t be full. If she ingested as a lot because the proprietor
thinks, her night time within the ER is just getting began.


I take a 20-second break to swig one other sip of
less-than-luke-warm espresso. I believe again to the fluffy-tailed
rabbit—possibly I’ll splint his bum leg so he can hop alongside a lot
extra effectively, then I’ll dutifully observe him down the
rabbit gap to our subsequent journey in Animal ER Wonderland …


Dr. Carly Blom is an emergency veterinarian in Phoenix, AZ.
She has completely practiced small animal emergency medication
for 15 years. She at present practices at VETMED in

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