by Kerry E. McKinney, DVM, ER Team Leader

pet-care-1080410_640When you bring your pet to our Emergency Service, injured or ill, we understand some of the distress because we’ve often been in the same position with a loved furry family member. Recently, Emergency and Critical Care veterinarians and staff at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital have experienced the following misadventures and emergencies:

Just pulling your leg

Richter, a 7 year old, 80 lb mixed breed dog belonging to an LVT, had been lame and it looked like he’d injured his cranial cruciate ligament. It’s not an uncommon injury to the stifle, or knee joint, in large breed active dogs. Injury or loss of the cranial cruciate ligament results in an unstable knee joint and eventually degenerative joint disease, so surgical repair is often elected.

Richter’s initial x-rays showed some hip arthritis and a fairly normal looking stifle joint so what was supposed to be a routine orthopedic surgery was scheduled. Despite a bit of a limp and efforts at keeping him rested and quiet, Richter continued to run and play at every opportunity. So it was especially surprising when x-rays taken the day of surgery showed the dramatic deterioration of his stifle and surrounding bone that signified a diagnosis of bone cancer.

Richter had osteosarcoma, and the surgical plan quickly changed to amputation and follow-up chemotherapy. The good news thus far is that he was up and chasing a squirrel the next week and is almost ready to start his chemotherapy, which goes to support the adage that dogs and cats are three-legged animals with a spare!

She ate what?!

You know that phone call you get at work that starts out, “Uh…” and you just know it’s not going to be good news? 
So it was for the same technician mentioned above when her Lola developed a taste for electronics— as in HDMI cables and computer and television cords.

Despite being of an age when you might think she’d know better, Lola managed to eat enough wires and computer parts to require emergency surgical removal to prevent a life-threatening intestinal obstruction. (The wires and assorted end pieces are visible on her x-ray.) Lola’s doing well, and household computer security has been stepped up.


Dr. Bentley’s English Setter, Maeberry, sustained a minor injury during a recent romp in the field. Despite being an internship-trained veterinarian experienced in critical care and emergency medicine, Dr. Bentley requested that Dr. Smith tend to the wound, which goes to show that when it’s your own ‘pup’ who’s in trouble, you want the reassurance of another professional.

Respiratory distress

Dr. Smith was traveling out of town this summer when Tag, her senior Belgian Malinois who’d been left in the care of a sitter, became anxious and over-heated and developed respiratory distress. Due to decreased laryngeal function, Tag was unable to effectively cool himself by panting. The more he tried, the more distressed he became, which led to worsening respiratory function. After an evening trip to the ER, he responded well to supportive care which included oxygen supplementation and anti-inflammatory medications.

dog-918625_640If we haven’t had it happen ourselves, we’ve probably seen it

As we conclude the holiday season, I’d like to thank those of you who have visited us with your furry loved ones and let you know we understand—we’ve often faced the same illnesses, injuries, and behavioral and social challenges. We appreciate your trust and we’ll do our best to help. We’ve often ‘been there’ too and we know how special those four paws are to you.

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.