Rocco - Canine Pet of the Month, June 2020
Rocco had been coughing some during the first half of the day. Although he’s a dog, he sounded like a cat with a hairball. I mentioned to my husband that I would call Monday morning if he hadn’t stopped. We got called to the family farm up in Hiddenite, and the longer we were there walking around, the more Rocco coughed until all of a sudden he couldn’t stop and it struck me that he couldn’t breathe well. He literally went from 0 to 10 in a matter of minutes. I looked up the ER vet in Huntersville and it said we were 55 minutes away. We FLEW down 64/90 to I-40 to I-77, hitting speeds of 98 miles an hour when no one was in front of us with our hazards blinking and lights flashing. EVERY SINGLE PERSON in our path moved over for us, letting us get down the highway as quickly as possible. I honestly did not think Rocco would survive the trip down there. He literally could not breathe. We got to Carolina Veterinary Specialists (the ER vet in Huntersville) and I ran in with him in my arms saying over and over, He can’t breathe!” They immediately took him to the back and us to a room. It wasn’t very long before they sent someone in to ask us what had happened to him that morning. Ummm, he sat on the couch, went outside (on a leash) to use the bathroom, had a snack . . . that’s it. Nothing traumatic. Just a sweet, lazy dog. I mentioned the coughing. After a little more time, the doctor came in and said Rocco was stable, but had a collapsed lung from a spontaneous pneumothorax, which is a condition that occurs when air leaks into the space between the lungs and chest wall, usually as a result of injury or trauma. They inserted a needle and removed the air. He was fine overnight, but the next morning the air recurred. They tapped it again, but it came right back. This meant chest tubes. They did a CT scan and the top 2 lung lobes (one on the left and one on the right) looked abnormal. They thought maybe he had had some cysts develop and rupture, leaving a hole. This meant surgery. They cracked his little chest open (fourth day from onset) like they do bypass patients – sawed his sternum in half and everything – and removed those 2 lung lobes. But when he came out to talk to me, he had not found evidence of cysts or holes. He couldn’t promise me he had actually fixed the problem. Wait and see. Fast forward. Now he is about 7 weeks out. There have been a couple of scares, but no evidence of the pneumothorax recurring. His little chest has healed and he is pretty much back to himself. We followed doctors’ orders to the letter to give him the best possible chance and we don’t let him get overly stimulated because he can get winded. The official diagnosis from pathology is subpleural emphysema. It’s apparently very rare. The surgeon thinks the chance of recurrence is low, but that is said in the shadow of “it should not have happened to start with”. So now I try to take every day given to me with him as a gift and a blessing. We almost lost him. What the staff at CVS did for him was heroic and amazing. And if you’re taking the time to read this, you’re probably one of those fur-baby parents that knows they will mortgage the house if something happens because you love them THAT MUCH. Well, knowing that, I took one of the Trupanion brochures out of the counter display at one of our visits with Dr. Gaither. It wasn’t expensive so we signed up. They paid 90% of this surgery! My bill was pennies under a solid $10,000. All I did was submit the claim and within maybe a week I was told a check was in the mail. I didn’t have to argue with them. I didn’t have to convince them of anything. I didn’t have to worry about ALL of the money I paid up front for the surgery because it was coming back to me. And the couple of scares I mentioned – they required chest xrays – also covered as part of the original catastrophic illness. If you’ve thought about it, let me just tell you it’s worth it. Worth it, worth it, worth it. Blessings to you and your babies! Allison and Rocco
Max - Feline Pet of the Month, June 2020
Max is a three-year-old neutered male cat who lives both indoors and outdoors. He went missing for several days at the end of February and, when he returned, he displayed multiple wounds to the rear legs and pelvis. On presentation Max was stable but was directly treated for pain. Subsequent X-rays determined that Max had a fractured pelvis, tail, and rear leg. We started fluid therapy along with antibiotics in addition to managing his pain. All this was in anticipation of surgery.
Once rehydrated, Max was anesthetized for surgery. The tail damage resulted in nerve damage severe enough that it had to be amputated. The leg fracture was repaired with an intramedullary pin and wires. The pelvic fractures were allowed to heal on their own. Max recovered in the hospital for several days before being discharged for home care under the orders of strict confinement for 6 weeks. His pain management and antibiotics were continued.
Max slowly recovered. We removed the tail sutures after two weeks and it looked great! He was beginning to use the rear leg and ambulate fairly well. After two months, we again sedated Max to remove the IM pin. The wires were left in place. Max soon began using the limb again and getting around well. He quickly began jumping and has resumed all activities.
Max’s amazing recovery from serious orthopedic injuries were enough to make him AHS’s feline Pet of the Month.