Vet Services Hawkes Bay Ltd

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When to bring your working dog in to see us…in less than 24 hrs please…

Over this busy time of year, it can be easy to overlook the working dog with the limp, or the dog that hadn’t eaten last night’s dinner. What can save you a lot of trouble, both in cost and lack of a worker, is knowing when your dog can wait to see us and when it needs to be seen as soon as possible.

It is the owner of the dog who is responsible for the dog’s welfare, and in the animal welfare code it is law and a MINIMUM standard that any dog observed to be in pain or distress, any serious injury or signs of rapidly deteriorating health, must seek IMMEDIATE attention from a vet.

The difficulty sometimes is identifying when a dog is painful and what constitutes a serious injury.

These guys are TOUGH, tougher than any of us, and that I can almost guarantee! They won’t whimper or stop working. If they have a painful leg, most will continue with the job on 3 legs – but that doesn’t mean that they should. After all, they may be tough, but their brains aren’t as big as ours (….almost a guarantee…) especially in regards to judging what is sensible and best for them.

If your dog is good as gold, then suddenly not weight bearing, the dog should be immediately stopped from working, and brought in as soon as you can. If the leg is obviously broken and floppy, then it’s easy to know it needs to be brought in as soon as possible, but if no obvious breaks can be seen and if the dog is still not weight bearing after being stopped from working for a few hours, then it is highly possible there is severe ligament or bone damage that may not be obvious without veterinary examination. These guys should be brought in the same day of injury.

We often see dogs that have been run over or hit by a vehicle or cattle beast a few days earlier, only to find out when they come to the vets that they actually have a fractured pelvis or dislocated hip. Obviously it is dependent on the severity of the trauma, but if your dog is not weight bearing evenly on all four limbs and not without weakness or wobbliness within 5 minutes of the injury, it should be brought in immediately. Because of the surrounding muscle of the pelvis, hip and spine, it is nearly impossible to exclude a fracture, and being as tough as they are, dogs will continue to try get from A to B so don’t perceive this as “just bruising”. They should be brought into the clinic as soon as you can – the sooner we can see them, the less chance of pelvic fractures moving causing further damage to nerves, also dislocated hips have a much higher risk of popping back out again if they are not replaced within the same day.

There are other injuries that may result from this sort of “impact” trauma to internal structures there may be internal bleeding and organ damage and lung contusions (bruising). If your dog is laboured in its breathing, has forced and obvious chest movements or becomes depressed and quiet after a traumatic incident, then these guys should be brought in as soon as possible.

If you get to the end of the day and the dog has had some trauma, but might just seem a bit subdued, check it is walking ok, is it a bit tucked up in the abdomen? Also check it eats its dinner. If it doesn’t eat its dinner, bring them in that night. This is a real danger red flag.

The other classic reason to bring these working dogs in as soon as possible are “GDV’s”. This stands for a gastric dilation and volvulus – meaning the stomach blows up with gas and twists so they can’t burp or fart the gas out. The stomach blows up like a balloon and if left the dog will die within 12 hours.

These dogs will try to vomit and retch but only bring up maybe some froth or saliva. They get quite distressed initially, then depressed and reluctant to move. You may see their stomach blow up just under and behind the rib cage, looking like a bloated cow, and they often have drool from the mouth.

You should stop what you are doing and bring these guys in right away. Any delay will significantly compromise their chance of survival. Surgery is the necessary procedure and the sooner these guys are seen to, the better.

There are a few other scenarios which should be seen sooner rather than later, in order for us to prevent more severe and harder to treat complications, for example;

-          Any wound over a joint.

-          A weepy or squinty eye should be left for no longer than 24hrs.

-          A swollen toe or joint.

The above scenarios are not all encompassing, more just the common things we see.

Remember ring us if you have any doubts or questions as to whether to bring an animal in or not. Just give us a call. Yes… we are likely to say bring it in… but it may be the difference between us recommending to do so NOW, versus something that might be ok to wait until you have time.


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