Spinal Trauma Patient

spine

Spinal Trauma Patient

Moving a Canine spinal trauma patient
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A spinal injury can occur in all sorts of ways from a very unfortunate accident during normal play, to an awkward fall or perhaps a road traffic accident.  Although he may have a loss of sensation, it is to be expected that most dogs who have experienced spinal trauma will be frightened and in pain so ALWAYS muzzle them as they may bite as you try to move them.
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Signs that your dog may have experienced a spinal injury include:
Crying/Yelping
Swelling of the area
Wound/Deformity/Bulging of the area
Heat at the site of the injury
Paralysis (partial or complete)
Incontinence (bladder and/or bowel)
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As well as the physical clues that would indicate a spinal injury, we must also consider what is known as the “mechanism of the injury” (sometimes you don’t need to be a vet to know that the accident you’ve just seen will have caused a serious injury to the animal’s spine due to the way the dog was hit or the way he landed).
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Should we move the dog?
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We must consider where the accident happened.  If it is safe to leave the dog where you find him, then keep him calm, warm and still exactly where he is call the vet IMMEDIATELY.  If it is NOT safe to keep him lying where he is (ie if he has been knocked down by a car and is currently lying in the middle of a road) then it is essential to get him to safety as quickly as possible.  It might actually be safer to try to alert any on-coming traffic BEFORE you try to move him so that the procedure can be performed without rushing and without fear of being hit by a car yourself.
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If you do have to move him, limit movement as much as possible, ideally by using a board strong enough to take his weight to keep him as still and straight as you can.
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(Perhaps if there was a car involved, you may be able to use the parcel shelf from their car as a stretcher).
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Because he will feel very cold due to the shock of the accident and the fact that he may “roll” during the lift, wrap a blanket or towel around him AND the board to secure him to it and stop the rolling effect. If you have no board, in an emergency, 2 people can hold the 4 corners of a blanket or jacket to make an impromptu stretcher.  Try to keep the dog as flat/straight as possible as you put him onto the board or blanket.  Calm and reassure the dog as much as possible throughout the lift – minimizing movement and any possible further trauma to the spine is essential.
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If he becomes unconscious, gently extend his neck to make sure his airway remains open and pull his tongue forward.  Ensure he is kept warm throughout and monitor his breathing/heart rate just in case you need to step in and perform artificial respiration or CPR.
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Take the animal to the vet ASAP. Remember to ‘phone ahead of your arrival so that there is a qualified vet available to meet you. There is little or no point turning up unannounced as the vet may be out on another call when you arrive, or the surgery may even be closed.
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