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Emergency Situations

  • Chocolate is toxic to dogs. While rarely fatal, chocolate ingestion often results in significant illness. Chocolate is toxic because it contains the alkaloid theobromine. Theobromine is similar to caffeine and is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant.

  • Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a term that refers to the heart's inability to pump adequate blood to the body. There are many causes of CHF in dogs. The two most common causes are mitral valve insufficiency (MVI), or a leaky mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and the let ventricle and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

  • This handout outlines corneal ulcers in cats, a painful eye condition often resulting from trauma. Other causes, clinical signs, diagnostic testing, and treatment options are also explained.

  • The cornea is the transparent, shiny membrane that makes up the front of the eyeball. With a corneal ulcer, fluid is absorbed from the tears into the stroma, giving a cloudy appearance to the eye. The most common cause of a corneal ulcer is trauma. Less common causes of corneal ulcers include bacterial infections, viral infections, and other diseases.

  • Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, is found in fresh and brackish water of ponds and lakes. This microscopic bacteria can also grow in backyard fountains, garden pots, bird baths, and anywhere water is stagnant. Regardless of where they are found, cyanobacteria can be dangerous.

  • Cyanosis is defined as a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes of the body caused by inadequate oxygen levels. Several different conditions involving the cardiovascular/circulatory system and/or the respiratory system that can lead to cyanosis, including congenital defects, degeneration of heart valves or heart muscle, blood clots in the lungs, pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, asthma, lung flukes, smoke inhalation, or muscle damage to the diaphragm. Cyanosis is an emergency, and the root cause may be life threatening and may or may not be reversible. Once back home, homecare instructions must be followed carefully.

  • Cyanosis is defined as a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes of the body caused by inadequate oxygen levels. Several different conditions involving the cardiovascular/circulatory system and/or the respiratory system that can lead to cyanosis, including congenital defects, degeneration of heart valves or heart muscle, blood clots in the lungs, pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, asthma, lung flukes, smoke inhalation, or muscle damage to the diaphragm. Cyanosis is an emergency, and the root cause may be life-threatening and may or may not be reversible. Once back home, homecare instructions must be followed carefully.

  • Cystine bladder stones appear to be the result of a genetic abnormality that prevents a dog from reabsorbing cystine from the kidneys. While bladder stones in general are somewhat common in dogs, cystine bladder stones are rare. Your veterinarian may be able to palpate the stones or may need to perform imaging studies such as a bladder ultrasound or a contrast radiographic study. There are two primary treatment strategies for treating cystine bladder stones in dogs: urohydropropulsion or surgical removal. Dogs that have developed cystine bladder stones in the past will often be fed a therapeutic diet for life. Unfortunately, cystine stones have a high rate of recurrence, despite careful attention to diet and lifestyle.

  • In cats, diseases of the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) are often grouped under the term feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Typical signs in cats with FLUTD are those of inflammation and irritation of the lower urinary tract. There are many potential causes of FLUTD, and diagnosis is based on assessing clinical signs and laboratory testing. There is no universal treatment for FLUTD. Each case has to be investigated to determine the underlying cause, and then the treatment has to be tailored to the individual cat.

  • Diabetes mellitus results from an inadequate production of insulin from the pancreas. The primary treatment is replacement by insulin injections. The body’s response to the injections needs to be regularly monitored by glucose curves over 12-24 hours. There are several glucometers that can be used at home for this purpose. Insulin must be stored and reconstituted carefully to ensure dosing is accurate. Giving subcutaneous injections of insulin can seem daunting at first, but by following the directions in this handout, it will quickly become second nature to both you and your pet. Hypoglycemia can result from too much insulin, not enough food, or excess exercise. Pet owners are trained to recognized hypoglycemia and treat or obtain emergency veterinary attention.