Illustrated Articles

Dogs + Emergency Situations

  • Acetaminophen, a common human drug used to control pain and fever, is toxic in dogs. Acetaminophen is occasionally recommended by veterinarians and should only be given under their direction. Young and small dogs have a higher risk for toxicity.  

  • Acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome, also known as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, is an acute disorder of dogs characterized by vomiting and bloody diarrhea. There are several possible causes and contributing factors involved and diagnosis is often a process of eliminating other causes of bloody stools and gastrointestinal distress. Affected dogs will appear severely ill and, if left untreated, may die. In most cases, the disorder appears to run its course in a few days if the dog is given appropriate supportive care.

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome, also known as shock lung, is a life-threatening complication of critical illness in dogs, such as systemic infection or disease, severe trauma, or near-drowning. Treatment involves targeting the underlying cause while also supporting the dog's compromised lung function with the use of an oxygen cage, an oxygen line direct to the dog's nasal passages, or in severe cases, a mechanical ventilator. Unfortunately, the prognosis for this condition is poor.

  • Early decontamination of can be performed following exposure to a toxic dose of alcohol as long as a pet is not showing clinical signs. Decontamination may include inducing vomiting (for ingestions) or bathing (for skin exposures). Other therapies include intravenous (IV) fluids, IV dextrose to help with low blood glucose, anti-nausea medication and warming support. Although there is no specific antidote for alcohol poisoning, medications may be used to assist with severe clinicals signs of respiratory depression and coma. Hospitalization for monitoring of cardiovascular and neurological parameters is needed until animals have recovered. Recovery is expected within 24 – 36 hours following treatment.

  • Anaphylaxis is an acute severe allergic reaction caused by an overreaction of the body’s immune system to an allergen such as a food protein, medication, vaccine antigen or other chemical. The most common signs include itching, cutaneous edema, hives, excessive drool, vomiting, diarrhea or respiratory distress. Diagnosis is made based on history and physical exam.

  • Anisocoria is a condition in which the pupils of the eyes are different sizes; in other words one pupil is larger than the other. Anisocoria is a sign of an underlying disease condition, therefore there are several different causes. Your veterinarian will begin by conducting a physical examination of your dog, including a detailed examination of the structures of the eye. The treatment and prognosis of anisocoria depend entirely on the underlying cause of the condition, and treatment will be tailored specifically to the diagnosis.

  • A dog that is not wanting to eat or is not eating, is a dog who has a potentially life-threatening medical condition. Many conditions can lead to the inability of your dog to eat or for your dog to lose his appetite completely. It is important to find the underlying cause so that an appropriate treatment plan can be created. Appetite stimulants may be prescribed and in some cases a feeding tube may be placed by your veterinarian. Decreased food intake or any change in eating habits warrants investigation by your veterinarian.

  • Anticoagulant rodenticide is used to kill mice, rats, and other pests. Poisoning occurs when a dog ingests rodenticide accidentally. Anticoagulant rodenticides cause excessive bleeding by interfering with vitamin K1 recycling in the body. Vitamin K1 is needed for the body to make certain clotting factors which enable blood to clot and help control bleeding.

  • An aortic thromboembolism results when a blood clot is dislodged and travels through the aorta, becoming lodged in a distant location. This causes severely reduced blood flow to the tissues receiving blood from that particular part of the aorta, leading to decreased oxygen in the tissues. Aortic thromboembolism is a rare occurrence in dogs and can be associated with can be associated with endocarditis, cancer, sepsis, hyperadrenocorticism, and with increased protein-loss through diseased kidneys. Sudden paralysis and pain, usually in the rear legs, are the most common clinical signs of aortic thromboembolism, although weakness and lameness may be seen. Initially, dogs may need to be treated as inpatients. Drugs to prevent platelets from clumping together will be prescribed. The expected course of this disorder is days to weeks for full recovery of function to the legs, but the prognosis in general is very poor.

  • Arsenic poisoning is the accidental ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation of products containing a toxic dose of arsenic. Clinical signs can include abdominal pain, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, staggering, weakness, rapid weak pulse, lethargy, low body temperature, collapse, and death. Supportive therapy is a crucial part of treating arsenic poisoning.