Thursday, October 18, 2012
Pet Smarts: Teamwork turns near-drowning into happy ending for basset hound puppy
By Dr. Mara Wendel
Sheabel Pet Care Center
On a Saturday morning last month, Sheabel Pet Care Center received an emergency call about a puppy that had wandered into her owner’s backyard swimming pool. The puppy’s owner had managed to get her out of the pool before drowning, but the puppy was struggling to breathe. I instructed the owner to bring her in for treatment right away.
The puppy was a 3-month-old basset hound, and she was in severe respiratory distress upon arrival at Sheabel. The puppy was gasping for air and her tongue was blue, indicating that she was having trouble getting oxygen. An IV catheter was placed immediately, and the puppy was given a sedative drug to keep her calm while oxygen was administered via a mask. While on the oxygen mask, the puppy’s tongue became more pink and she was able to get more oxygen into her bloodstream. The puppy was also given fluids, antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory drug and a drug to help draw the inhaled pool water out of her lungs.
After initial stabilization, it was time to transport the puppy to the AA Small Animal Emergency Service because the puppy was clearly going to require around-the-clock intensive care. The staff at AA responded quickly to my call and sent two of their best nurses to Sheabel to transport the puppy safely. The nurses brought a portable oxygen tank with them because the puppy’s oxygen level would drop dramatically if she was taken off of supportive oxygen and she would not survive the transport. On the way over to AA, the puppy’s tongue turned blue again despite the oxygen mask, and Dr. Elaine Martinez instructed the nurses to insert a tracheal tube to maintain an open airway.
As soon as the puppy arrived at the emergency clinic it was apparent that she would not survive without mechanical ventilation because she was unable to breathe and acquire oxygen on her own. X-rays of her chest were taken quickly to assess the damage that had already been done by her recent near-drowning, and then the puppy was placed on a ventilator. Intensive treatment and monitoring were given overnight while the puppy remained on the ventilator, including sedative drugs, IV fluids and pain medication. After several hours, the puppy began to wake up and was able to be taken off of the ventilator, but she remained on oxygen therapy.
By the 24-hour mark, the puppy showed enough improvement that her oxygen therapy was maintained via small tubes in her nose. Chest X-rays were retaken and showed some improvement. After about 36 hours of hospitalization, nasal oxygen was discontinued and the puppy was able to visit with her owner. Although she remained in an incubator that provided higher levels of oxygen than room air while in the hospital, she started tolerating short walks and even tried to chase the birds. She was feeling well enough to be causing mischief.
By Monday morning, after almost two days of hospitalization, the puppy was alert and responsive. She had a great appetite, and her respiration and lung sounds were normal. It is safe to say that this special little girl is a fighter, and she won the hearts of all of us who helped treat her. Without a doubt, it took extensive efforts and teamwork by the entire staff at Sheabel Pet Care Center, along with the emergency doctors and nurses at AA Small Animal Emergency Service, to help ensure a happy ending for this puppy. We are very proud to report that the puppy who nearly drowned went home to her family and is doing great!
Dr. Mara Wendel is a veterinarian at Sheabel Pet Care Center. She received her undergraduate degree in biology from Cornell University in 2005. Wendel then returned home to Ames, Iowa, to attend veterinary school at Iowa State University. After graduation, she moved to Lexington to work at Rood and Riddle as an equine veterinarian for two years before joining Sheabel.