Friday, March 27, 2015

Why You Need to Know Your Veterinarian's Emergency Policies

We have recently had the opportunity to work with two of our clients and their veterinarians while the two dogs in our care needed medical attention. One experience was very stressful and the other was, thankfully, very easy.

Fluffy needed two cones and an

inflatable collar to keep her from
getting to her foot.
Our first story is about Fluffy. Her owners traveled to Australia for 6 weeks and we stayed at their house for overnight visits. On the second day Laryssa noticed Fluffy was limping and had licked her rear foot raw. We Skyped the owner to advise her of the situation and we took Fluffy to their veterinarian.

The vet examined Fluffy and agreed to limited treatment using the credit the client had on her account. The vet didn't find a foreign object, as we had suspected, and sent us home with an antibiotic and an elizabethan collar and instructions for her care.

Fluffy's foot had gotten much worse
Several days went by and Fluffy was not healing. In fact, she began having blisters that burst and her foot looked terrible! We took her back to the vet the day the blisters began. The vet examined her again and gave us a quote for surgery to remove dead tissue, suspecting the injury may have been the result of a spider bite which was causing tissue to die. 

The piece of wood removed from
Fluffy's foot.
The client, being in Australia, was 18 hours ahead and not easily reached. The vet wanted to keep Fluffy until later that afternoon while they, and we, tried to contact the client. In the event they were successful they would already have Fluffy and be able to do the surgery. 

They called us later in the day to come pick her up as they had not been able to reach the client and treatment was, unfortunately, refused. They sent us home with a different antibiotic and told us to keep trying to reach the client and advise her to call the clinic.

Fluffy was ultimately treated and a large piece of wood was removed from her foot.

Your vet will require important information in order to treat your pet when you aren't present. 

Fifi shown with her IV catheter still in place just in case she were to
crash again. She was such a trooper!
Our next story is about Fifi; an 11 year old diabetic, blind and arthritic Doberman whose owner traveled within the US for a two week vacation. On day three, Fifi's blood glucose became critical. 

We called the vet and they told us to rush her right in where they immediately administered IV dextrose and syringe fed her high calorie canned dog food. They worked on her for 3 hours before she finally stabilized enough that it was safe to take her home. 

We visited Fifi 4 times a day. The vet called every morning and every evening to find out what Fifi's blood glucose readings were on each of the 4 visits and how much food she had eaten in order to tell us how much insulin to administer.

It was a very challenging week trying to find a balance, overcome the diarrhea brought on by multiple Caro syrup doses, find something that would increase her appetite and take her off a drug that may have been the cause of her decreased appetite. Fifi made a few visits to the clinic during this time. 

Do you know which course of action your vet would take in your absence with your pet during an emergency?

Each veterinary clinic has different policies. We send an email to our clients a few days before each schedule begins reminding them to call their vet to let them know their pets will be in our care and follow their vet's policies for emergency treatment authorization and payment requirements.

Anything can happen. Healthy dogs can become injured, be stung by a bee, snake bite, swallow a toy or become ill for no apparent reason. Pets with known medical issues or chronic conditions may have the condition exacerbated by stress with routine change. 

By following your clinic's policies in advance we can take your pet in for emergency treatment that will not be hindered financially and/or by waiting for your verbal authorization.

In addition to finding out what your clinic's policies are you should also know their hours and whether they have an on-call presence after hours. Only two clinics in Sierra Vista do. We have written an article outlining On Call Vets and the closest 24 hour clinics in Tucson.