Top 3 Reasons Why Dogs End Up in the E.R.

Dog chewing toy
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Foreign body removal — like ingested toys — is a common E.R. procedure.

We do everything in our power to keep our dogs in tip-top shape: We feed them the right foods, check for fleas and ticks and dole out belly rubs so they feel loved. 

But even with all that attentiveness, sometimes accidents happen — and our four-legged loved ones can wind up in the animal hospital. 

Vetstreet spoke to Dr. Amanda Duffy, DVM, MS, DACVECC, an emergency and critical care specialist at the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in South Weymouth, Mass., about the three types of cases that she most often sees when it comes to pups — and what you can expect if it ever happens to your pet.

The Culprit: Gastroenteritis

According to Dr. Duffy, gastroenteritis — an upset or inflamed stomach and intestines — is a leading cause of canine emergency room visits. In layman’s terms, she refers to this as “dietary indiscretion [or] eating things that they shouldn't eat or being fed things they shouldn't be fed.” Indiscretions like that plate of chocolate brownies that Fido gobbled up at your dinner party.

The Treatment “We typically administer intravenous fluids, anti-nausea medications, gastric acid inhibitors and sometimes antibiotics,” Dr. Duffy explains. “We recommend abdominal X-rays, bloodwork and usually a fecal test for parasites. Hospitalization is typically required if the gastroenteritis is severe.”

The Ballpark Cost Dr. Duffy says that this type of E.R. visit at a specialty referral center like hers might cost in the realm of $2,000 to $3,000, translating into a lot of kibbles and bits. Of course, prices can vary significantly across the country.

The Prognosis Luckily, dogs usually respond within 48 to 72 hours of treatment in the hospital. “Most patients are back to normal in about a week,” Dr. Duffy says. 

The Culprit: Car Accidents

Dr. Duffy often treats dogs who get hit by passing cars when they break free from the yard or even a dog park — an incredibly dangerous scenario because the injuries can range from minor to life-threatening.

The Treatment “We typically recommend hospitalization with intravenous fluid therapy and pain management. Bloodwork, as well as thoracic, abdominal and pelvic X-rays, are performed,” Dr. Duffy says. “Occasionally, a thoracocentesis (a more invasive treatment to remove fluid or air) is necessary if a collapsed lung develops.” Injuries can include fractures, pulmonary contusions and head traumas — and surgery may be necessary.

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