Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Monday, May 23, 2011

Unless You Are Pregnant, A Swollen Belly is NOT A Good Thing!

Lately it seems as all I've been seeing are complex and sad medical cases, some of which lead to euthanasia. Oh sure, there's an occasional cute puppy or kitten thrown in there. 

The only "plus" is that I've been rockin it big time on my diagnosing these cases AND have been told so by people I work for - and publicly in a staff meeting too! 

The irony is that I prefer surgery to medicine (it was the opposite when I FIRST got out of vet school because frankly, vet school doesn't do a great job of preparing you for surgery..normal, everyday surgeries!). 

Today was no exception to the pattern.  The one case that stood out was the 11 yr old Boston who came in because she was not eating and her "belly was looking bigger." This happened in the past week or so according to the owners.

Well, generally in a dog this age, it's either fluid or a mass.
NEITHER of those is a good thing because the underlying cause is generally not fixable and often even if its something we can treat with medicine or surgery, we are only able to buy a short amount of time.

On the exam, I also found a heart murmur that was never diagnosed, partially because the dog hadn't been seen in quite a while. Yes, I'm going to REPEAT myself about the importance of annual (more frequently in senior pets) physicals! Sometimes when we see stuff, it's progressed too far! 

So my suspicion was that this dog was in right sided heart failure - which was confirmed by x-rays and analysis of the fluid in the abdomen. The kidneys are also shutting down on this poor little girl. 

Honestly, it is TIME. The dog is not eating. The owners, however, aren't "there" yet. So we put her on some cardiac medications and hope that she improves enough to eat. The question is will they make the decision or not? I don't know. Some people just CANNOT do it. Or they wait too long and the animal ends up in a state of crisis at 3am. Neither is a good scenario.  Most of them do NOT just die in their sleep.

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