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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lawnmower 1, Dog 0

There are certain things in life that tend to be "givens".  The sun rises in the east, taxes are always painful to pay, people will normally call while you're taking a shower, etc.  Another given is that rapidly spinning hunks of metal will always win when put in opposition to an animal's appendage.

This past Saturday a client called with an emergency.  Apparently his dog was playing around while he was mowing his lawn, and was jumping over the mower.  One of the times she did so, her foot slipped underneath the mower.  I don't think I need to spell out what happened next and why he was rushing his dog in.  Remember, it's a given that lawnmower blades will win out over a boxer's paw.

When she came in she was a bit shocky, likely due to the pain, but stable.  The only injury was the right rear paw, and this was pretty bad.  A couple of toes were missing, a couple were hanging on by strands of skin, and the bones in the paw (metatarsals) were easily visible.  There was comparatively mild bleeding, and certainly nothing requiring a transfusion.  However, the end of the dog's paw was pretty much gone with bones and tissue being traumatically mangled (not that there's a way to atraumatically mangle something).

There was no way to save the paw, but he came in just a couple of hours before closing so it was too late to be able to do surgery on her at our practice, even though I could certainly handle something like this.  I gave her some potent pain medication right away, gently bandaged the paw, and sent her to the local emergency clinic.  He couldn't afford surgery there, so ended up looking around for a couple of days before finally having surgery done yesterday.  There were no other injuries, so the dog is likely going to heal well and do okay, even if she's missing part of her paw.  But I can't imagine her having a mangled foot and having to wait two days before the owner could find someone to do the surgery at a price he could afford.

Here's a rather simple lesson.  If you're running a lawnmower, realize that the blade can chop through bone and skin just as easily as through twigs and grass.  And don't let your dog play anywhere near the mower!