Close Calls for K9 Diablo
MJR Veterinary Hospital staff treats immediate needs and heads off further complications for a Dec. 1 release date
“When I first saw him, we could not touch this dog,” said Dr. Elaine Holmes, surgery resident at Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, of her recent patient, Diablo, a police dog from New Castle County, Delaware.
A Belgian Malinois, Diablo was rushed to the Hospital’s Emergency Service in the early morning hours of November 11 after he’d been shot – in his chest and left hind leg – in the line of duty. Luckily, the shot to his chest had only caused external injuries; however, the shot to his leg had left Diablo with a shattered tibia. And he wasn’t happy about it.
“He was feeling compromised, he was on edge, he didn’t trust us and every once in a while he would bear his teeth. He would just give us that look,” said Dr. Holmes.
Diablo has since been released from the Hospital’s care, but his stay wasn’t an easy ride – behaviorally or medically speaking.
“I first saw him at about 7:00 a.m. the day he was admitted,” said Dr. Holmes. “The Emergency Service had stabilized him right away. They administered IV fluids, antibiotics and pain medications, and we set him up in ICU so we could maintain his stability before we went in for surgery.”
That afternoon, Diablo went in for surgery. While the surgery itself was a success, Diablo’s most troubling health issues were just coming to light. He was showing signs of worsening lung function. And, as the anesthesia wore off, he was also getting a bit more ornery.
“While the shattered leg was concerning, we (the ICU) were managing his overall stability, and it quickly became obvious that what was most life-threatening was the state of his lungs,” said Dr. Elise Mittleman Boller, a staff veterinarian in the ICU. “He needed needed multiple rounds of anesthesia to deal with his leg, a blood and plasma transfusion and he had pneumonia. All of these things created a perfect storm that probably led to that worsening lung function, making him more and more oxygen-dependent. He was having more and more difficulty breathing,” she said. Finally, Diablo had to be placed on a ventilator to optimize his oxygenation and to help alleviate the respiratory distress he was experiencing.
“He was a trauma victim,” said Dr. Holmes. “His overall systemic health was compromised and that made him more susceptible to complications. Just having a severe trauma like a gunshot wound can cause the whole body to function inappropriately. He was having difficulty handling the anesthesia. The lungs were was our biggest close call and the days I felt most defeated were the days that his lungs took a turn in a negative way,” she said.
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Burned Horse's Spirit Not Broken
Widener Hospital staff nurse Suki’s wounds helping the horse to heal physically and emotionally
In the early morning of July 10, 2009, a barn fire broke out in Oley Township, PA. While most of the horses were turned out to pasture, there were several horses kept in the barn that night. Although the horses in the barn were set free once the fire broke out, one of them, a handsome mare named Suki, was spooked and ran back into the burning barn, her only known safe haven.
Suki, an Oldenburg measuring about 17 hands high and weighing approximately 1,460 pounds, was badly burned. After initial consultation with her local veterinarian in Oley, Suki’s owner was referred to the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals located on the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Hospital’s New Bolton Center Campus. Suki was taken there immediately and admitted to the Hospital’s Emergency Service at 5:00 a.m.
“Between 65 to 70 percent of her body was burned,” said Dr. Kelly Kalf, Suki’s primary veterinarian at Widener Hospital. “I first saw her at 7:00 a.m. on the morning she was admitted. There was severe eschar and scabs from the burn along her back and her ears were stiff and blackened.”
In addition to the eschar on her back and her badly burned ears, Suki’s hair on her face was gone, her eyes were swollen shut, her head was hanging low and she had a rapid heart rate; she was in shock. The Emergency Service team tended to her and sent the horse to the ICU where she received IV fluids, pain medication, broad-spectrum antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicine and topical ointments designed specifically for burn injuries.
“We didn’t dissect the burn to determine the degree – whether they were first-, second- or third-degree – like they normally do right away in human medicine,” said Dr. Kalf, “because we wanted to get her stabilized and keep any protective layers of skin in place.”
Aside from the burns, the most alarming symptom to Dr. Kalf was the fact that Suki was developing sever nasal and head edema (swelling). One of the biggest immediate concerns, aside from her extensive burns, was how much smoke and soot inhalation damage there was – and whether or not Suki would require a tracheotomy, whether she’d develop life-threatening pulmonary edema or later on develop pneumonia.
“We were always prepped for a tracheotomy,” said Dr. Kalf. “Suki did develop a cough and a fever, but these problems resolved part-way through her hospitalization.”
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