Articles

IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO A SICK DOG

Operations, X-rays, transfusions — your dog can have them all in a modern pet hospital. And a flea-removing bath, besides

RAY GARDNER May 1 1949
Articles

IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO A SICK DOG

Operations, X-rays, transfusions — your dog can have them all in a modern pet hospital. And a flea-removing bath, besides

RAY GARDNER May 1 1949

IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO A SICK DOG

RAY GARDNER

ONE of the two men who sat smoking and chatting in the hospital reception room was sweating out an obvious but mild attack of the blessed-event jitters. While he fidgeted he fished for a comforting word or two from his more cool and collected companion.

“This is her first time. A Caesarean. I hope it goes well,” he offered as conversational bait.

“Oh, it probably will,” was the offhand reply. “Mine came through it fine.”

“What’s she in for now? Same thing?”

“No, she was hit by a truck this morning. Driver didn’t even stop. The doctor thinks maybe she has a broken pelvis.”

As they talked a brisk young woman in white was kept busy answering a stream of calls. “I’m sorry, the doctor is in surgery” . . . “Judy is coming along nicely. She’ll be ready to come home tomorrow” . . . “Feed him plenty of raw meat. Meat’s always the best thing for them. Especially raw meat.”

Eventually a door leading into the hospital wards swung open and a tall, auburn-haired and completely unruffled man in a white surgical gown appeared. The smell of ether hung heavily about him and he still wore a gauze operating mask which had been pulled down so that now it swung loosely from his neck and dangled across his chest. This was Dr. Alan Secord.

“It’s all over and it couldn’t have gone better,” he announced, smiling sympathetically at the man who toyed nervously with his hat. “There are six of them, all born perfectly normal. You’ve a fine litter of pups there.”

Then, turning to the second man, Dr. Secord informed him that X-ray examination had confirmed the original diagnosis of the injury to the man’s dog: the pelvis had been fractured.

Later, Dr. Secord set the fracture in a Stader splint, a modern bonesetting technique used on humans as well as on animals, though it was developed by a veterinarian, Dr. Otto Stader of Pennsylvania. Within a few weeks the fracture had mended and the dog was able to romp as friskily as ever.

It’s pointless to say these things shouldn’t happen to a dog. The fact is they do. But the happy part of it is that modern small animal hospitals, such as the one operated by Dr. Secord in Toronto, make available to the nation’s estimated two million dogs the kind of medical and surgical care comparable, in many respects, to that given humans.

As a result, though a dog’s life is still only a dog’s

Operations, X-rays, transfusions — your dog can have them all in a modern pet hospital. And a flea-removing bath, besides

life, it is now more likely to be a longer and more healthy one.

Dr. R. J. Devereux, a Toronto vet, puts it this way: “Before the development of the modern small animal hospital, the sick dog slunk off to t he woodshed and either got well by himself or died. If he broke a leg, he was usually destroyed. Today he goes to a hospital run especially for him and other animals, and there he is attended by a highly skilled physician and surgeon who uses the most advanced techniques, the most modern equipment and the most recently discovered drugs to treat him.”

What Ails Fido?

THE hospitals man has built for his best friend are, indeed, amazingly similar to those he has built for himself, as you would discover if your dog were to become seriously ill and, after your own home remedies have failed to effect a cure, you were to take him to a vet.

In the reception room, which may strike you as being not unlike your own doctor’s waiting room, though the chances are it will be larger and its decor far more elaborate, you’ll likely have company. In one corner a woman may rock back and forth in her chair, patting and soothing the small dog she has wrapped in a pink baby blanket and cradled in her arms. Bigger dogs may be straining on their leashes, the better to find out if that’s really a kitten the little boy has in the cardboard box.

You make known your presence and the purpose of your visit to the young lady at the admitting desk and eventually the doctor beckons you into the examination room. In this search for symptoms the veterinarian will ply you with questions as a

baby specialist might if he were examining your child. (The vet wishes your dog could talk.) You fell him that all you know is that for three or four days your dog hasn’t been able to keep a thing on his stomach; all he does is mope about the house as though he’d heard the government was going to uproot every last fire hydrant. The vet will probably test his heart with a stethoscope, take his temperature and examine his eyes, nose and throat.

He may suggest you leave the dog overnight for observation, urine and blood analyses, and, if necessary, X-ray examination. You consent, and while your dog is led away you return to the admitting desk to fill out a form similar to but less complex than the one you’d fill out if you were entering a hospital yourself. The vet is content to know your dog’s sex, breed, age, medical history and name (to help gain your dog’s confidence).

That finished, perhaps you’d like to inspect the hospital. All right. You’ll notice over there, on the door, it says, “Visiting Hours 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.” Dogs are much like children in the way they react to visitors, says Dr. Secord. ‘‘They brighten up considerably when they see their owners, then become upset and grieve when they’re left alone.”

We’ll go through that door into the hospital proper. In front of you there is the well-stocked dispensary. The vet uses a lot of penicillin and sulpha drugs and he has vitamin pills and tonics for dogs that have that run-down feeling.

Across the hall is surgery and, to the left, is the X-ray room. The equipment’s the same as they use on humans, though less elaborate than what you’ll find in a big hospital.

You’ve probably

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It Should Happen to a Sick Dog

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1 noticed that Dr. .Secord has adopted the terminology of the human hospital holus-bolus: surgery, X-ray, dispensary. Along here are the wards: observation, surgery, general, the cat ward and, up on the roof, there’s an isolation ward. No, no maternity. Expectant mothers are put in the surgery ward.

Maybe you weren’t aware of it, but you’ve lowered your voice to a hospital pitch and you’re walking on tiptoe. You’re acting as though you were in a place for sick people. The reason you don’t hear the dogs barking and the cats miaowing, incidentally, is because their wards are soundproof.

Through here is the room that serves as kitchen and bathroom. The meals they prepare here are mostly canned dog food, but they pep up its nutritional value by adding fats. The vet recommends you do the same at home. Canned dog food is good but some of it is deficient in fats.

That bath over there—-yes, it’s just like the tub at home except it’s raised off the ground—is where they dip the dogs in a solution of rotenone to kill fleas. Later they are put in a cage to dry. Hot air blows up through openings in the floor. It’s a waste of time, incidentally, to have your dog dipped for fleas unless you spray DDT around the house while your dog’s in hospital. Fleas spend only half their time on the dog.

This is a kind of beauty parlor in here, too. If your dog—you say his name is Carlo?—well, if Carlo were one of those fancy poodles instead of a cocker they’d fix him up here, if you wished, with what they call a personality hair trim.

Now, you’d like to see your dog. He’s in here, in observation. Sure he’s in a cage. You didn’t expect to find him in bed! That’s one thing the vet finds disconcerting, too. But let Dr. J. G. MacKay, of Toronto’s Eglrnton Veterinary Hospital, tell it: “The fact that we can’t immobilize the patient, or couldn’t expect to be obeyed if we told a dog to walk around with one foot off the ground, is one of the big sticklers in healing fractures.”

To avoid exciting him you should leave your dog now. You may phone tomorrow between 11 and 1 in the morning or 7.30'and 8.30 in the evening for a progress report.

When you do phone the following day Dr. Secord informs you they have located the trouble. The blood and urine analyses produced no clue. Neither did an examination of your dog’s saliva under the microscope. But the X-ray turned the trick. He’s swallowed something. There’s a foreign body lodged in his stomach. They’ll have to operate to remove it, but first your dog’s resistance will have to be built up by intravenous feeding.

Has the doctor your permission to operate? Yes, certainly, you say. (Perhaps because of your concern you haven’t noted the way in which the doctor refers to your dog. It may please you to know that he has called him “Carlo,” “he,” or, if you phase, “the patient,” but never once “it.”)

You are not going to see the actual operation, but you may as well know that Carlo is going to experience just about the same things you experienced when you had your appendix out that time. Only Carlo is not going to go around bragging about it later. He’ll leave it to you to tell the boys at the next poker session.

Because it is a major operation the time for it will be set in the early

morning or in the evening when the doctor can depend on the maximum degree of quietness. Don’t forget, they took your appendix out in the morning.

The operating room is superbly equipped. The instruments, which glisten in the glass surgical cabinet, are, with one or two exceptions, identical with those your doctor used to snip out your appendix. The operating table is a little different; it’s designed specially for veterinary work, but to a layman such as you it’s substantially the same.

What Dogs Swallow

Every precaution will be taken to guard against infection. The instruments will all be sterilized in a gadget called an autoclave. You’ve seen one -—it looks like a pressure cooker resting on its side—in your own doctor’s office. The doctor and his assistants will all wear sterilized gowns, gloves and masks.

As for Carlo, once they place that cup over his nose and give him a whiff of ether he’ll be out of this world. They’ll cover him with a shroud and there will be an opening in it just over the spot where Dr. Secord intends to make his incision.

What happens then is pretty technical. Roughly, they’ll open him up and remove whatever it is he has in his stomach, sew him up and return him to his cage in the surgery ward. When he comes out of the ether he’ll suffer nausea, as does a human.

You’ll probably never guess what it was that gave Carlo the misery. By the way, you are a plumber, aren’t you? Dr. Secord thought as much. Well, your dog swallowed the handle off a water tap.

This isn’t as unusual as you may think. Dr. Secord has removed rubber balls, imitation rubber bones, corncobs, beer-bottle tops, nylon stockings, flashlight batteries and a wide assortment of other bric-a-brac from the insides of dogs. One dog, a retriever, swallowed six stones. “He rattled like dice in a cup,” says the doctor. Once he recovered 24 poker chips from another retriever who a few nights previously had attended his master’s stag party. “That helped settle an argument,” Dr. Secord recalls. The record corncob catch is generally credited to Dr. Claude Keeley of Ottawa, who removed 14 cobs from a pup’s stomach.

Just in passing, if you have a child in your home keep his small toys away from the dog (especially rubber balls) and also watch he doesn’t put an elastic band around your dog’s leg. Lots of kids do that and then forget about it. The band works in under the skin, the skin grows over it and a nasty and dangerous abscess forms. There’s hardly a vet who hasn’t run across a case like that.

But you’re more concerned about your dog and thè treatment he’s going to get now the operation is over. If he should need it, they’ll give him a blood transfusion or even administer oxygen. In Toronto blood transfusions have become so common the vets are getting together to set up a central blood bank.

It has probably occurred to you that the vet has that professional, confident manner which Is typical of your own doctor. The vet is no “horse doctor” in the derogatory sense of the term. (He is capable of caring for horses, however.) He’s a universitytrained professional.

In Canada he may go to one of two veterinary colleges, one at Guelph, Ont., and the other at St. Hyacinthe, Que., where the instruction is in French. At the Ontario Veterinary

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College at Guelph, which is a department of the University of Toronto, the course has recently been extended from four to five years. The degree of doctor of veterinary medicine is conferred on graduates.

The veterinarian serves an internship and often does postgraduate work. Dr. Secord, for instance, is a doctor of veterinary science and has a master of science degree from Ohio State University.

The vet makes a specialty of orthopedic surgery—bonesetting. Many of the bonesetting techniques developed by the veterinary profession have later been adapted to human use.

Conversely, when the surgeon comes up with something new in human bonesetting the vet wastes little time in trying to make use of it in his practice. One method the vets picked up recently is called intramedullary pinning. It was developed by a German doctor during the war. The idea is to drive a metal rod lengthwise through the centre of the bone. In that way the rod unites the two parts of the broken bone, serving as a splint. One reason the vets like pinning is because it allows the dog to hobble around without too much trouble and the set bone stays pretty well in place. Dogs chew off plaster casts and wooden splints.

In Canada one of the first vets to use pinning was Dr. J. G. MacKay of Toronto. Dr. MacKay heard about the method from Canadian soldiers who had had fractures set in German prison hospitals. He tried it first on a tiny kitten that was brought to him with a broken pelvis. The kitten was too small for the use of any ordinary type of splint, so Dr. MacKay experimented and was successful. The woman who owned the kitten was glad he did. Otherwise the animal would have had to be destroyed.

They Love Dogs

Caesarean operations are performed on female dogs when a normal birth is impossible. It may be necessary, for instance, when the dog has a broken pelvis. But most often, Caesareans are performed on Boston bulls. That’s because the Boston has such a large head and unusually small hips. Or it may be necessary to operate when the pups are known to be the mongrel progeny of an extraordinarily small female and a large male. Of course, some people bring their dogs to hospital when a birth is impending simply to avoid bothering with it themselves.

Dogs usually pick the doggondest hours at which to have pups. “Usually two in the morning,” according to Dr. Audrey Fyvie, of Toronto. She knows because she’s the one who rolls out of bed to officiate.

When people visit their dogs in hospital they often bring them specially prepared foods, such as boneless chicken, and occasionally they bring flowers and ice cream. Some send getwell cards.

The vets understands your concern for your dog for, almost invariably, he is a dog lover himself with a dog of his own.

Dr. Secord will tell you this himself: “People shouldn’t be ashamed or sheepish about disclosing the affection they hold for their pets. Dogs are wonderful, truly man’s best friend.”

Dr. Secord recalls when a dog owned by a member of the Ontario Legislature lay hovering between life and death in his hospital. The M.P.P. simply couldn’t stay away from his pet. One evening Dr. Secord surprised him in the ward as he knelt by the dog’s cage, imploring the animal in baby talk to please get well. The man flushed and

got quickly to his feet on noticing the doctor and stammered, “I guess you think I’m a fool.” “Not at all,” Dr. Secord replied. Then the man unfolded the whole story of his affection for the dog. “You know,” the doctor recalls, “he used to read his speeches to that dog.”

There is a surgeon—not a vet—in Toronto who often calls in a veterinary doctor to have a look at his two cocker spaniels. When the vet arrives the surgeon is invariably pacing back and forth with one of the dogs in his arms. While he paces he recites nursery rhymes to it.

Naturally some people carry this sort of thing too far. Take the case of the two women, a dowager and her daughter, who brought an ageing poodle to a Toronto hospital where it died of old age. It was 15, which is about 90 years by human standards. When the poodle died the two women upbraided the vet. The daughter, in tears, wailed, “I’d rather it had been my father.” That was too much for the vet. He told them to get out.

Like Dog, Like Owner

Not many veterinarians could match the weird experience which befell Dr. Claude Keeley, of Ottawa, when he attended a sick dog at the home of an eccentric old maid. “After I’d taken care of the dog,” Dr. Keeley recalls, with a shiver, “the woman invited me upstairs to see her other dogs. ‘Upstairs’ proved to be a cobwebby old attic. And the dogs turned out to be dead, stuffed and mounted. I got out of there fast.”

The vet says that he can usually discern the character and personality of the dog’s master by observing the dog. Dogs possess an individuality of temperament, have personalities of their own, but they also assume many' of their owner’s traits and are influenced by home environment.

Nine times out of 10, for instance, an old maid’s dog will be crotchety, says Dr. Keeley.

One of the nastier bits of dog flesh that was ever brought to him for treatment was a dog that lived in a home where the man and wife fought —yes, like a dog and cat. But a few months later, when the dog again appeared at his hospital, Dr. Keeley could hardly believe it was the same dog. He was so friendly. The man and wife had separated and the dog was taken to stay with the wife’s sister, who led a peaceful, happy life.

Dogs can become neurotic. People who tease their dogs by making them beg for food, make them wear coats and jackets (Scotties, who are most often seen in tartan blankets, are one type of dog that does not need a blanket to keep warm), and talk baby talk to them make their dogs nervous and irritable.

Generally the cocker spaniel is considered to be the most neurotic dog, partly because of constant inbreeding. Says Dr. Devereux, of Toronto: “Cockers are very high-strung and they haven’t the resistance most dogs have. When they get sick they very often can’t throw it off.”

Dr. Secord doesn’t agree. He claims that you can’t type dogs according to breed any more than you can type humans according to race. Each individual dog is different. Probably the reason the cocker has got his bad name is because, at present, there are far more cockers in Canada than there are dogs of any other breed so, naturally, he says, they outnumber other dogs in hospital. Other favorites with Canadians (though not necessarily in order of popularity) are collie, Boston terrier,

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boxer, springer spaniel, Labrador retriever, dachshund and the Pekingese. The Lassie pictures have helped popularize the collie. Dr. Secord comments.

Distemper is the most common and most deadly of all dog diseases rampant in Canada. (Rabieshydrophobia is prevalent in many parts of the United States but has been kept out of Canada by the mandatory inoculation of all dogs coming into the country.) Veterinarians are putting stress on preventive medicine, as is your own doctor, and have developed two highly effective methods of inoculation against distemper. They are not lOOfy effective, however.

The veterinarian advises early inoculation. Dogs most often contract distemper between the ages of three months and a year, though it is possible for older dogs to come down with it. One bout with distemper leaves a dog immune.

The complications of distemper are particularly bad. Pneumonia, epileptic convulsions and St. Vitus dance are quite common results. The vet fights some complications with penicillin and sulpha drugs, but he hasn’t found a sure cure for distemper itself.

Dogs also get cancer, tonsillitis, skin diseases (notably eczema and ringworm), kidney stones, dysentery and often have to have their appendix removed to cure whipworm or have their teeth extracted because of a bscesses.

Seldom do they suffer from tooth decay. The dog bolts his food without

chewing, only uses his teeth to tear. Sometimes a dog will break a tooth and then the vet will call in a dentist to help him cap it with a gold crown, but this kind of work is rare. Dr. Secord and a dentist friend crowned a show dog’s tooth with gold and, from then on, whenever he was exhibited, the dog curled his lip to show it off. Perhaps he hoped to influence the judges.

The vets’ charges vary a great deal, almost as much as do the medical doctors’. A spaying operation which, incidentally, is one of the most common operations in the vet’s book— it renders female dogs sterile may cost anywhere from $5 to $15. A Caesarean is likely to run as high as $50, when X-ray and hospital charges are included. A difficult surgery case may cost as much as $200.

The vet does not collect all of his bills and sometimes does not importune people when he has a feeling they can’t afford to pay.

Dr. Secord says this: “Nearly all of us do some charity work. No vet w'ould turn away a small boy with his sick mongrel mutt because the boy couldn’t pay.” On the other hand people often pick up a strange dog they have seen hit by a car, bring it to the hospital and tell the vet they will be responsible for the bill if the owner is not located.

The vet doesn’t care whether your dog is a lowly mongrel or an aristocrat with a pedigree as long as a dachshund's body. The vet makes no class distinctions and doesn’t discriminate in regard to color or breed. The dog hospital is open to all. if