The A to Z Of First Aid and Emergency Care For Dogs and Cats, a BOOK Review

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I recently had a health scare with our greyhound, Seba.  As happens so often, once the stress was over, I wanted to share it with our readers…

She had been alternating between diarrhea and constipation for at least four hours, then that evening was pacing around the house, anxious and crying in obvious pain.  Greyhounds are a vocal breed, and Seba’s no exception.  But this was different.  Ironically, I’d just finished reading The A to Z Of First Aid and Emergency Care For Dogs and Cats by Aaron Glover.  One of the first things it says is, know your pet.  Well, this was just not Seba.

I knew it couldn’t be bloat, because she hadn’t been outside running around either before or after eating, but I felt along her abdomen anyway, to see if she would react.  She didn’t.  That was a good sign, but she still would not stop pacing and whining.  It was obvious she needed to go outside, and the telltale greyhound gas cloud was conspicuously absent.

But you see, the thing about Seba is: she’s terrified of the dark!  This has been the case since we rescued her.  At first, we thought it was a visual issue, but for her we concluded that something happened at the track to frighten her–perhaps the same reason she is afraid of brooms, who knows?  So of course, she had a diarrhea episode in the kitchen and then hid, because she was so ashamed.

I flipped back through the A to Z guide…but diarrhea was in the section on vomiting, with emphasis on the latter–and there was no vomiting!  In fact, Seba had gobbled up dinner and water as usual, then tried to mooch for more.  The crying started about an hour after.

Now I began to worry that she had a bowel obstruction.  She had enjoyed both a rawhide and a natural beef knuckle bone just a couple of days before–was it possible a small piece of either had broken off and was caught in her digestive system?  That could mean an expensive surgery was ahead.  Worst of all, greyhounds have been known to die from the simplest procedures requiring anesthetic, because they have so little fat on their bodies that the dosages have to be very delicate and precise.

Overnight, she got me out of bed several times, crying to let her outside. She would hover a long time near the open back door, then dash into the dark to go and I would wait by the door to let her right back in.  In the morning, she ate and drank as usual, but seemed exhausted and miserable from the night before…

I went into the office, and let my boss know right away that I would be going home for lunch to check on her condition and, depending on what I found, might not return that day.  Lucky for me, he and his wife have two dogs of their own, so he immediately understood my concerns.

When I got home for lunch, I was relieved to find no new accidents in the house.  But she did still have diarrhea in the yard.  So I called our vet’s office, and explained her symptoms.  Upon hearing that she was still eating and drinking, they felt it was unlikely to be a blockage, but instead some weird bacteria picked up in the yard. Apparently, this happens to a lot of dogs that like to experiment with eating things like grass, gnawing on downed tree branches and eating other animals’ poop.  Yum, right?  But they wanted me to bring her in for a stool sample, to be sure.

Once there, they felt around her abdomen just as I had, took the sample, then after testing it, prescribed an anti-biotic followed by a probiotic. Long story short: the anti-biotic worked almost immediately and she is feeling back to her old self. I’m so relieved!! (And not just because it was a $60 vet bill instead of $6,000).

Now, I told you that story to tell you this one: I’m not sure I would have taken the same steps with as much speed when this cropped up if I hadn’t been reading this book at the time…

Also, I discovered some interesting facts I didn’t know and you might not either.  For instance:

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Checking for Dehydration:

1) Check the skin by using the turgor test. (Pinch a small area of skin together in your fingers–at full hydration it should spring back almost faster than the eye can see, and more slowly if the pet is dehydrated).  If the skin does not return to normal, the animal is 10-12% dehydrated and likely in critical condition.

(I actually did this for Seba, since I didn’t know for sure how long she had been having the diarrhea.)

Bee Stings/Insect Bites:

1) Certain stings can cause your pet to faint!

2) Never put pressure on the venom sack of a stinger still in the wound.  It can cause it to inject more of the venom into the pet.

Eye injuries:

1) Any time the pet’s eyelid cannot fully close, you can use pure honey to keep it moist until it can be treated.  Honey also gives an anti-bacterial benefit.

There’s this and so much more inside–so we definitely recommend this book!



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Joy Jones is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio.  When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphyscial column called The Midwestern Buddhist as well as urban fantasy and humor.  You can e-mail her at as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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