Pet Care: Benefits of Spaying Dogs, Safety of Anesthesia, Cats with Extra Toes

Myths and benefits of spaying dogs, the safety of anesthetics for pets, and cats with extra toes.

| October/November 1993

I was on emergency duty recently and responded to a client who came running through our doors, bathed in tears and desperately clutching her 14-year-old hyperthyroid cat in a red towel. Boo-Boo, a gentle yet antiquated calico, had somehow struggled up underneath the hood of the neighbor's car, straddled the fan belt, and nearly met her death the next morning when the engine turned over.

The owner, Ms. X, was frantic, and with good reason. Boo-Boo was a disaster. In shock and dehydrated, she had a severe heart murmur—worsened by her hyperthyroid condition and two large gashes on her hind legs and chest from the nasty fan belt. The night was already late. The financial situation of the owner was grim at best. I couldn't help but wonder why only my emergency nights seemed plagued by "full-moon" near-fatalities such as this one.

I sent Ms. X home with the notion that somehow we'd devise a payment plan if and when the little cat made it through the night. She unwillingly left, still crying, clutching her purse, and mumbling to herself something about nine lives.

I wandered back to the intensive-care unit to commence the massive cleanup effort of Boo-Boo's wounds, started her on intravenous-fluid therapy, and stabilized her heart condition. It wasn't until 1 A.M. that the last of 47 sutures was placed in her legs, the anesthesia was turned off, and I left to get a few hours of sleep.

At 7 A.M. the next morning, much to everyone's satisfaction, Boo-Boo was bright and alert, though still a bit shocked and pained. She had made it through the worst part of the trauma.

Over the next three days, her condition improved enough so that she was able to return home under strict house confinement, medication, and tender loving care. Her owner was ecstatic, and I ended up waiving the emergency fee and surgery cost, charging only for hospital boarding. I'm not sure if this was due to the good Samaritan in me or the fact that I had forgotten to log the fees in the computer due to late-night drowsiness. Either way, it was one more happy ending.

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