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Pet Emergency Clinic



Current helpful pet owner info from the viewpoint of Dr. John Emerson. 

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Posted by petemergencyclinic on December 17, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (3)

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


I recently treated a young adult retriever who presented for having a severe seizure.


Though seizures are not unusual, especially in Labradors, this pet's condition was complicated. I noticed that the seizures had the appearance of seizures DVM's associate with the virus Distemper. The dog was thin, and he tested heartworm positive. Upon further conversation with the owners, the pet had never seen a DVM, having strayed up to the owners' home about a year earlier, and having NOT had any apparent problems.


So, the pet was unvaccinated, forcing me to leave several diseases on my list that vaccines could have prevented, He had heartworms, and he was seizuring. The case became much more complicated than it may have been otherwise. Luckily, the dog did pretty well, went to its home clinic for needed extra care, and is now up to date on needed care.


In these days of. "Dr. Google" and other instant, often conflicting advice, it is sometimes easier to just DO NOTHING about an issue rather than deal with it. Dr. Google may tell you to never vaccinate, since vaccines can do harm. He may then tell you to feed raw foods, since commercial foods are no good. He may tell you that a 1/2 wolf hybrid dog is the only type of pet to have, and that DVM's are only out to take your money rather than help with your pet, etc etc. Remember, anybody may write anything on the internet without much challenge. Usually, there is some agenda attached to it. Take anything you find on the internet with a grain of salt.


Sometimes all of that conflicting advice form all of these "experts" can lead one to just do nothing. Of course, doing nothing is rarely the best approach to anything.


Though I have said it before, it is worth repeating. DVM's are in practice because they are passionate about helping people and their pets. It is in the DVM's best interest to help you the best they can so they may have a lasting relationship with you. If you do not feel that this describes your DVM, then get another.


You and your DVM together are stronger than most pet disease and this strong team should allow you and your pet to have maximum enjoyment together.


So, find the a DVM who you trust and have a relationship with her/him so you have your own expert.. Follow the advice of YOUR expert, an expert whose only vested interest is your pet's health. Your pet now has the best chance to thrive.


If you need after-hours pet care, your DVM has organized Pet Emergency Clinic to do that. So your pet gets 24 hour medical care if needed.


Beats Dr. Google every time!



You CAN do something about pet illness.



That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on December 16, 2014 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (29)



Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


It is holiday season and poisonings and toxicities are in the air....


Here, courtesy of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Service, are the "Top 5 Holiday Toxins."


1) Chocolate- Causes lots of problems this time of year. The darker the chocolate, the worse it is. Be very mindful of where you leave chocolate during this holiday season.


2) Tree preservatives- The chemicals you put into your natural Christmas tree water to make the tree stay green longer can cause intestinal upset. (this is real to me. Our house cats immediately started on the new "drinking fountain" the minute the tree was placed this year. Luckily no added chemicals)


3) Poinsettias- mostly irritate membranes in the mouth and intestines. Still, avoid this toxin.


4) Medications- Since there are often guests and children around, and since it is cold season, meds may be around. Be certain that your pet cannot get to them.


5) Alcohol- We see alcohol poisoning at the ER every year. One ounce of liquor in a 5 pound toy-sized pet would be the equivalent of 40 ounces of liquor in a 200 pound man. Could kill. Watch out. We have even seen cases where a person intentionally tried to "get a pet drunk." Bad idea. A large number of pets have died from this intoxication.


As I repeat over and over and over and over and over (etc), preventing problems is always the best way to operate. Having never had a problem in the first place is easier and cheaper than treating that problem after it occurs.


But, if it does occur, ER is here for after hours and your DVM is available during business hours.



You CAN do something about pet illness.



That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on December 7, 2014 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (16)

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


I recently treated a beautiful young "teenager" kitten with an unknown injury that resulted in a broken leg. This incident inspired me to go through some information about fractures (broken legs) with you. So here goes...


Usually, for a bone to break, the trauma must be pretty significant. Often cars do the job but sometimes falls and rough play can do it too. When you bring your pet in with an obviously-broken leg, you may notice that, after an initial glance, we are looking at almost every body part of the pet except for the break. Why?


Because, usually a fracture is not life-threatening itself, but trauma bad enough to create a break may be. So we want to be sure that your pet is OK overall before we directly address the fracture.


Regarding "fracture-speak," fracture is a term for any broken bone, whether it is cracked or broken in two. We call a bone broken into multiple fragments a "communuted fracture, " and a fracture where a bone breaks through the skin is called an "open fracture." [Formerly called compound]


As a general rule of thumb, fractures above the elbow and knee require surgery to repair them. And MANY of those below the elbow and knee require surgery too, though some of them may be splinted.


Usually, at the ER, our job is to assess the trauma, be sure that there is not a life-threatening condition present, and then temporarily handle the fracture pending definitive repair at your home clinic. Orthopedics can be difficult, and not every DVM has all the equipment to perform every possible repair. We are lucky that, in Lake Charles, we do have a veterinarian who can perform many different types of orthopedic surgery. If your DVM needs to refer, that person is a good asset.


Fractures may be repaired via pins, wires, plates, screws, or a combination of the above.


So, if your pet receives a broken bone, get veterinary help immediately. How fast you act will have a definite effect on the results of any later work that is done.



You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on November 18, 2014 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


I have written before about attacks on our pets by coyotes and other wild animals.


The frequency of these attacks seems to be increasing, so this week's update will review this topic....


I recently treated a very nice pet dog who, while outside on a "constitutional, " was viciously attacked by a coyote and nearly eviscerated. Luckly, the owners intervened pretty early, and stopped the attack. Yet not long before the pet received severe injuries requiring surgery and lots of treatment.


So, why is this happening more? I do not really know, but I believe that, as we humans encroach more and more on certain animals' natural hahitat, these animals are having a harder and harder time finding acceptable food. So, though these animals would prefer to be nowhere near humans, they are forced to hunt soft targets such as pets out of desperation.


What can we do?

Prevent prevent prevent is the best idea. Keep your pet generally indoors when possible and when taking them out, always on a leash. Most wild animals are not yet bold enough to directly approach a human, even when they do see a "tasty tidbit" at the end of a leash.


If you should find your pet being attacked, try to scare off the wild animal, but BE CAREFUL. Sometimes, in the heat of battle, a normally-shy animal may actually take you on.


If your pet is attacked in any way, even if it seems minor, get it seen by a DVM. Many of the wounds from these animals look more mild than they are. My recent case had some deep, crushing, punctures that, at first look, did not look too bad. Remember, if the abdomen is punctures at all, there is a good chance that your pet will need surgery.


So, watch your pets closely when outside. If trouble occurs, get the pet to a DVM. Your own DVM if during busness hours, and after hours, Pet Emergency Clinic. 337-562-0400.




You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on November 10, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


I was recently attended a beautiful family wedding and reception in Baton Rouge that required my wife and me to be away for 2 days. Because of this, I experienced a problem that many pet owners have when they are going out of town. That is, what to do with the pets?


In my house at the moment, Juliet and I have a number of cats, each of which is some type of rescue or other. My nephew, who was the recent groom, has a cat and a dog, each of which needed care while he and his new wife went on their honeymoon.


So I thought that discussing the options for pet care when you leave may be helpful....


In general, healthy pet options are Boarding or Pet Sitters.


There are professional pet sitters who will visit your house and care for your pets an agreed-upon number of times per day for a set fee. In some cases, especially with cats, it makes a lot of sense to have a person come to the pets so they need not have to be moved. The benefit is that the pet is in its own environment and maybe less stressed. The down side is that the pet is all alone for several hours per day and unsupervised. For cats and some smaller dogs, this could be a good approach to out-of-town care.


Another pet care option is boarding. You may select a veterinary clinic or a commercial boarding facility. The benefit of the veterinary clinic having a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) hand should any illness occur. A commercial facility that does boarding as their main business offers maybe more play time and possibly a more home-like environment. There are 3 such facilities in out area, all of which are good. If an illness occurs, these facilities are really good about seeking veterinary care when appropriate.


In my case, one of our ER staff members agreed to stay in our house for the 2 nights, and my pets did not have to be moved. In my nephew's case, his cat went to stay with his bride's parents, and his dog stayed with his, traveling by car to Lake Charles.


So, you see, logistics for a pet owner can be difficult. Still, they are very do-able if you just plan ahead. Minimizing stress for your pet when you go out of town helps minimize ER visits.



You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on November 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


Recently, I have treated a few pets that were in becaiuse the owners were seeing worms in the stool.


So I thought I would give you a review of worms that you can see in the stool of a dog or a cat.


There are generally 2 types of worms you will see in the stool, These are the roundworm (looks like spaghetti) and the tapeworm (looks like a rice granule.) [If you ever study pathology, you will see that so many conditions are described in terms of what food the condition looks like]


The roundworm is a very common worm in puppies, and you may see it in the stool. The good news is that roundworms are not generally deadly. The bad news is that , where there are roundworms, there are often more severe worms. So, if your small puppy's stool is showing roundworms and the pet looks sick in the least, get it in to handle. These are usually easily handled and the prognosis is good.


The tapeworm that you see is usually a single segment of a worm with a head and dozens of segments (the segments look like an old fashioned measuring tape- hence the name). Tapeworms are not usually very dangerous and they are acquired by swallowing a flea. They are not hard to treat, but you most treat them specifically, since most general dewormers will not get them.


Both tapeworms and roundworms are what we call zoonotic diseases. That is, they are diseases that can potentially affect a human. So a few precautions are in order as follows:


Remove pet feces from the yard, since roundworms are acquired in humans by swallowing the eggs.

Have everybody wash hands before eating for the above reason.

(You will NOT get roundworms from playing with an infected pet, since the eggs must sit on the ground for some time before becoming infective)


Treat fleas on your pet and in your home to avoid tapeworms. For a human to get the tapeworms, the human must swallow a flea, just like the pet. This actually occasionally happens with babies, who are dewormed almost exactly as a pet would be.


See your home DVM regularly for preventive care and testing


There are lots of possible worms, and lots of possible zoonotic diseases, but the above describes 2 worms that people often SEE in the pet.



You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on November 3, 2014 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


I am still amazed by just what a pet may put in its mouth and eat. It seems that, for many pets, the more disgusting, the better.


Usually, these "nasties" just pass with little fanfare or problem. But, sometimes, big problems occur.


What can you do to prevent a huge source of pet problems (and therefore ER visits) ?




I recently treated a pet who had never done this before, but on that one day, had ingested some very rotten material from the trash and become very ill.


So, a good idea is to dispose of old food or other rotten materials safely out of the house( or anywhere else that the pet may get them.)


Be mindful of your pet in the house and the lengths the pet may go to to get a "treat."


My sister had a wonderful large yellow Labrador who she loved dearly. But this dog, though not very athletic, became a true "mountain climber" when items he wanted were on the countertop.


On one fine Halloween, the large, sedentary dog climbed the countertops and procured a large amount of chocolate, which is, of course, toxic to dogs. All it took to make things better was a several hundred dollar ER visit, IV fluids, drugs, etc etc. [By the way, Buck never did really learn, and pulled the stunt again later, but was luckily caught before real damage occured.]


Point two: Your errant pet probably will NOT "learn" from these misadventures. (see above) So just prevent it every time for best success.


So that's it. Avoiding problems is almost always better than treating them.


You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on October 24, 2014 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


Recently, I treated 2 dogs in the same night that had ingested the correct dose of a popular flea product and began showing symptoms of illness. We did blood testing on both of these pets (looked ok,) treated both with IV fluids and anti-nausea, and both got better. I believe that these situations were at least suspicious of an adverse reaction to this drug. Could I prove it? No. Too many other possibilities. But I still made the recommendation that these owners find an alternate flea treatment in order to totally avoid the chance that this could be a real issue.


This type of report is what is called anecdotal, meaning that this incident occured, a doctor believed that it was related to the drug, and it was suggested that the drug be avoided in that particular pet because of it. Again, it is definitely not proven. The recommendation was made out of caution.


But the above are the types of anecdotal reports that wind up on websites decrying certain very useful drugs. Emotion and innuendo, along with very little hard data, comprises such websites. As an example, the drug Trifexis, a combination flea and heartworm product that is very popular, is one such drug that is under attack by such a website. Yet, millions and millions of doses have been dispensed with very few problems.


So what am I saying? Take ANY information you get from anywhere, especially an internet search, with a grain of salt. It may very well have an agenda behind it. Find out for yourself what the truth is. Hint: your own local DVM is your pet's advocate. Chances are good that you can get TRUE info from him or her.


And if something is true for YOU, it is true. Do not deny what you know.


If, for example, you see that for your pet, a drug such as Trifexis or any other, causes illness, subtle or otherwise, USE ANOTHER DRUG. It does not matter just how great the safety studies show it to be if it is not safe for your pet.


In this age of endless information, it becomes even harder to sift the true from the not-so-true. Take the time and your pet's life will benefit.


You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on October 17, 2014 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)


Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


We are rapidly approaching the Halloween season, a time of candy, costumes, spooky ghosts, and pet vomiting and diarrhea. At Pet ER, we are stocking up now on medications to assist vomiting and diarrhea symptoms.


Though I know that we all tend to get caught up in the silliness that is this day, remember that your pets do not need candy or even ANY treats.


Here are a few tips on helping your pets survive the Halloween events....(If you use these, you may cause me to have overstocked on intestinal medicine- GOOD!)

1) Keep your pets IN on that day. You hear about black cats being kidnapped, but any pet could be targeted by the wrong person. Avoid the problem by enclosing your pet safely.


2) Avoid giving your pets candy or ANY treats at this time. Even supposedly safe pet treats may sometimes be toxic or at best cause an upset stomach.


3) Be sure that your pet is fed its normal diet and properly cared for, since everyone is distracted at this time.


If your pet becomes ill on or near the Halloween holiday, get it to your DVM during business hours, or to Pet Emergency Clinic if it occurs on a night, weekend, or holiday. Best not to wait. Early handling usually results in faster and cheaper recoveries.



You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic


Posted by petemergencyclinic on October 12, 2014 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (8)

Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,


This week, I am out of town attending annual recurrent aviation training, and the thought occurred to me that professional aviation and medicine have many similarities.


This seems to be even more true for emergency medicine. For example, both doctors and pilots are responsible for others' lives, perform complex procedures with high levels of precision, and have to follow exact prescribed procedures to get life-threatening situations handled. Most importantly, both have to exercise judgement in sometimes bending those exact procedures when it is necessary due to whatever unusual circumstances occur.


It is that required judgement that makes having robots as doctors or pilots extremely unlikely. When that "simple" surgery goes wrong, or when that crazy emergency in the airplane occurs, you really need the greatest computer ever made, the human mind, on the job. A cookbook probably will NOT work.


Both doctors and pilots are usually passionate about their professions, and take great pride in their ability to proficiently do their jobs and help others.


So, it is good to know that your professional veterinarian has those desirable skills mentioned above. And if your pet needs help out of hours, your PetER veterinarian has years of professional experience and can exercise that wonderful attribute, judgement, that separates man from robot.


When your pet has a problem after hours that the book does not necessarily address, it is good to know that these professionals are there ready to help.


337-562-0400 nights, weekends, and holidays.


You CAN do something about pet illness.


That is all.



Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic