How to deal with top companion animal emergencies

Posted on August 02, 2017 by Dan Lewis

You’ve just finished morning consults and are about to sit down with a well-earned cup of tea when your nurse hands you the blood results for the springer you admitted earlier: a PCV of 14% - that can’t be good…As you start to ponder your next move, the receptionist rushes through to tell you that 2 clients are bringing their animals down – one a dog hit by a car and the other a cat that hasn’t urinated for the last 24 hours. They also let you know that the Doberman you spayed yesterday can’t stand and the owner wants a call back…a wave of despair floods over you – you can’t deal with all that at once!

The perfect storm

Whether in mixed or small animal practice, whether you use an out-of-hours provider or do your own on-call, you will have to deal with small animal emergencies, often at the least convenient time. The combination of a distressed owner, an acutely deteriorating animal and a badly prepared veterinary team leads to high stress levels that result in poor outcomes for patients, and for vets and vet nurses.

Improving your knowledge on how to deal with common small animal emergencies will help you deal with such stressful situations, allow you to channel the adrenaline that comes from working with emergency patients, and make you realise that, far from being something to dread, successfully treating the critically ill emergency animal can be one of the most rewarding fields of veterinary practice to be in.

Knowing the pattern

Despite their unexpected nature, true emergencies tend to fall into certain patterns, and no matter what the situation, having a solid appreciation of how to interpret and stabilise major body system abnormalities will go a long way. Following on from this foundation, common emergency problems can be more easily understood and you can create a setting where you and your team can deal with your patients in order of seriousness and move them past the point of crisis. Standard approaches can then often be made to these common emergencies, easing the problems of decision making in time-dependent cases.

Join us in Manchester on Tuesday 5 September 2017 for a full day covering approaches to the most common small animal emergencies, from triage to toxicology, with a practical dry lab session included. You can even have that well-earned cup of tea!

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Dan Lewis

Written by Dan Lewis


Following graduation in 1995 from Cambridge, Dan worked in mixed practice for 5 years, where he gained the RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Anaesthesia. In 2000, he moved to Petmedics, a large hospital-based emergency clinic in Manchester, where he remained for 8 years. In 2008, Dan embarked upon a residency at the RVC, obtaining his American Diploma in Emergency & Critical Care in 2011. Since then he has been in charge of the ICU at Bristol Vet School before another period at Petmedics.

Dan joined Vets Now Referrals at Glasgow in January 2015 and contributes to the 24 hour Emergency & Critical Care referral service available there.