Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bad, bad choices

Few things irk me as much as people making repeatedly stupid choices when it comes to the medical care of their pets.

I was transferred a case recently that was terribly sad because it was SO avoidable. A mastiff bitch was seen at her veterinarian and underwent a c-section. 8 puppies all told were present, 5 alive, 3 dead.

The dog (Lizzy) had started passing thick, dark, foul-smelling and bloody fluid from her vulva on Thursday morning. Thursday night, she had a puppy. It was very dead. Nothing else happened for 12 more hours. Friday morning, she had another puppy, also dead. The owners still did nothing. Saturday morning, she was very lethargic and had passed no further puppies. The owners gave her a shot of "something" provided to them by a friend. It was supposed to induce labor, but the owners had no idea what the medication was called.

Late Saturday, still no puppies and a progressively more lethargic dog. Finally, the owners decided a trip to the veterinarian was in order.

A c-section was conducted on Lizzy. After surgery, she was not recovering very well. The veterinarian did some testing and discovered that Lizzy was likely suffering septicemia (systemic infection). This is not an uncommon sequelae to prolonged dystocia. He transferred the patient to me for continued care.

Unfortunately, it became apparent at presentation that the owners had spent all of their finances on the surgery. They applied for CareCredit and were granted an increase of $1200. Unfortunately, care for Lizzy for only 1 night would run in the $700-800 range.

It was time to have a frank discussion with the owners. Lizzy was likely going to need 2-5 days of hospitalization, her prognosis was very guarded, and the bill would likely become expensive rapidly. We discussed the finances involved. The owners really had the extra $1200 AT MOST and that was stretching it for them.

After much soul-searching, they decided euthanasia was the best option. When I knelt beside Lizzy, she lifted her head and looked at me, then sighed and rested her head on my knee. This was the first sign of responsiveness we'd really seen since she presented. My heart hurt a little. Her predicament was utterly preventable.

First, the owners shouldn't have bred her if they weren't prepared financially to deal with the possible ramifications, and secondly, had they taken Lizzy to see her veterinarian when the first problems were noted, the sepsis would very likely have been avoided. Now, the only one really suffering from the owner's terrible decision making was Lizzy herself.

I felt terrible euthanizing her. Hopefully, she is somewhere running through a field of green grass with puppies that have gone on before her.


Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

I feel like I did my time in the trenches and am glad I am no longer in the front line of clinical medicine - I really struggle with stories like these- I can relate to the lack of money - but the cruelty and ignorance just cut me off a the knees. I suppose there will be no vet clinics eventually and people will still want pets and just let them suffer. It all feels so hopeless.

Ruth said...

are they prepared to tube feed those pups or are they going to be your next patients.

You know, people keep asking me if I'm going to breed my Tibetan Mastiff. He's male, and intact for a variety of reasons (among them for confirmation showing possiblities). And frankly all I can do is look at them in horror. Even if it all goes perfectly thats ALOT of things to watch and keep track of, and the number of things that could go wrong.....never mind that trying to keep up with him by himself as a pup was exhausting, I can't imagine trying to keep up with a whole litter. If when we're showing someone see's him and wants him for stud I'll talk, but I have no intention of breeding!

Anonymous said...

That is so sad. I could never do it - I'd end with with 347 animals and no money at all. Poor girl.
I bred one litter. From champions, all health checks, homes booked ahead, did it right. And the bitch and a c-section, couldn't nurse, and I had to bottle feed 14 puppies. I never slept and thought I was going to die, but they all lived. People who think breeding is just fun and cute and profitable have no idea.

katydogcrazy said...

Run free at The Bridge good Lizzy.