Recently we've had two reminders of how easily puppies and kittens can become victims of misadventure. Having a completely indoor cat in a high rise apartment, Tiger's owners thought she'd be safe from the perils of an outdoor lifestyle. That was until they forgot to close the veranda door and Miss Curiosity explored the balcony. Animals cannot perceive how high up they are and somehow in her adventure Tiger fell from the balcony. Whether she slipped or misjudged a jump, we'll never know. Living 14 storeys up, her owners feared the worst when they discovered the door ajar and Tiger missing. A small blood splatter on the roof of the fourth floor confirmed their fears, but four month old Tiger could not be found until daylight the following morning.
They rushed her into our surgery first thing that morning. Miraculously Tiger's only injuries were a jaw broken in two places, shock and some bruising to her lungs. After being stabilised, Tiger went under anaesthetic to enable us to examine her and x-ray her jaw, chest, spine, abdomen and pelvis. Fortunately, there were no further broken bones.
Due to her broken jaw she had a feeding tube inserted and was transferred to a specialist hospital for ICU care and to see an orthopaedic surgeon. After complicated surgery to repair her jaw with special pins and wires, and after expenses that mounted up to a few thousand dollars, Tiger was able to return home, eat on her own again and was on the road to a full recovery.
Another case of juvenile curiosity that ended badly involved Chuck. Little Chuck, a three month old Staffie puppy, greeted his owner with a blue tongue one morning. He had a very sorry look on his face and blobs of vomit splattered the kitchen floor. His owners discovered that the night before Chuck had stolen a texta (or koki) pen that was now missing, assumed swallowed.
Chuck had a very uncomfortable belly and was decidedly nauseous. He was admitted to hospital, had blood tests, and was put on a drip to treat his dehydration and in case he had poisoning from the texta. Since plastic does not show up easily on x-rays, Chuck had to have a series of special x-rays called a barium study that would show if he had a blockage in his intestines. Luckily he didn't and the chewed up plastic pen was passed uneventfully in his stools. After treatment for his cramps and dehydration, Chuck was discharged the next day, fortunately not having been poisoned by the pen!
Both of these stories had a happy ending, but this is not always the case, and they are a timely reminder that young pets need extra supervision, just as young kids do! And even though heartache was avoided, both these owners had substantial vet bills, something they could have easily avoided if their pets had been insured. Pet health insurance is available from a number of providers and really is best taken out the day you get a new pet. You just
never know when you're going to need it.
Dr Kevin Cruickshank is a South African trained and qualified vet living and practicing at the Gold Coast Vet Surgery in Queensland. See www.sabona.com.au/kevincruickshank