Lucerne Veterinary Hospital Blog

Holiday Hazards: Keep your pet safe this festive winter season

holiday hazards

Red and green lights twinkle on evergreen branches, gently intertwined with shimmering silver tinsel. The aroma of chocolate chip and gingerbread cookies wafts lazily through homes bustling with excited children. The holiday season is replete with colorful decorations and delicious foods, but it is important to remember that this time of year can present special hazards for pets. Follow these tips so you can enjoy the holiday at home with your loved ones instead of at the emergency room.


My Dog Ate My Stash: Marijuana Toxicity Revisited


Glassy-eyed, stumbling, and afflicted with a sudden case of the munchies: while this may describe your neighbor’s teenage son, this is also becoming an increasingly accurate description of the family Golden Retriever. With the recently-approved referendum to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in the state of Maine, we may soon see a sharp rise in the incidence of marijuana toxicity. In states which have previously legalized marijuana, the number of accidental exposures by pets has greatly increased. In light of the increased availability of these potentially mind-altering drugs, we will revisit a previous blog post discussing what you need to know about the effects of marijuana in pets.


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posted in:  Pet Emergencies  |  Pet Health  |  Toxins

Porcupine Quills: Myths and Facts

porcupine quills

You have just changed into your pajamas, and yawning, you open the door to let Ruby in after she has finished her eliminations for the night. You are horrified to discover, however, that your once sleek pointer is now sporting a new beard made of black and white spines. What should you do next?

As long as porcupines and dogs have been roaming this continent together, there have been many old wive’s tales surrounding quills. Test your quill knowledge and determine which of the following are true, and which are myths.


posted in:  Pet Emergencies  |  Pet Health

Saving a Life through Blood Donation

Illustration of dogs blood donation flat design concept with icons elements

Buddy is just another happy-go-lucky chocolate Labrador until one day he collapses on a hike. He is rushed to the hospital where a bleeding tumor on his spleen is discovered. Midnight is a tiny stray kitten who is very weak from blood loss due to a heavy flea burden. Duke is a young beagle who has just been struck by a car chasing a squirrel across the street.

What do all of these patients have in common?

They all have had their lives saved by blood donors.

Blood donation is a safe and universal procedure performed worldwide to save the lives of sick and injured pets. We are currently looking for a small number of dogs and cats from the community to join our blood donor program. Read on to see if your pet meets the qualifications to save a life. Continue…

Emergency First Aid Care: Part 2

emergency first aid

What can you do in the event of a pet emergency? This entry is a continuation from last week’s emergency first aid article. Last week we addressed traumatic injuries, toxins, and seizures.

Eye Injuries

If you notice your pet’s eye has been dislocated from its socket and the lids can no longer close over the eyeball (known as a proptosis), make sure to keep the eye moist by applying KY jelly or contact lens saline solution before bringing her to your veterinarian. This is an emergency that requires immediate surgery. If your pet has received an irritant in her eye, flush it for 15 minutes with contact lens solution or running water, and monitor closely for any persistent discomfort. Do not remove any foreign bodies that may be impaling the eye. Use an e-collar if you have one available to prevent your pet from traumatizing her eye. Be sure to bring your pet to your veterinarian right away, as the eye is a fragile organ. Severe ocular injuries may require care by a board-certified ophthalmologist.

Heat Stroke

Signs of heat stroke include excessive fatigue, panting, or collapse after spending time in a hot environment. If your pet is experiencing distress after exercise in hot weather or being confined in a very warm environment such as a car, immediately remove your pet from the hot surroundings to a cool, shaded area. Bring down your pet’s temperature with cool water and place a fan on her, then bring her to your veterinarian. Do not use ice water, as this can cause the superficial vessels in your pet’s body to constrict, thereby retaining heat and delaying cooling.

Allergic Reaction

It is not uncommon for a dog to experience an allergic reaction after, for example, having been stung by a bee or bitten by a spider. When this happens, you may observe your dog’s muzzle and face swelling up, or hives developing over her flanks. Benadryl can be very useful for these scenarios, but make sure to contact your veterinarian for dosages and guidance before administering medications to your pet.

Emergency First Aid: In Summary

  • Even before an emergency occurs, keep a list of facilities close to you that provide emergency services, along with directions.
  • If possible, it is also a good idea to set aside funds to be available should you ever be in this situation.
  • A first aid kit can also be invaluable (see our First Aid blog for recommendations)
  • Emergency first aid is important, but when an emergency occurs, the most important thing will be to transport your pet to an emergency facility as soon as possible. Despite how panicked you are, however, drive carefully– crashing your car will not help your pet receive care any sooner!

If you have any doubts as to what constitutes an emergency, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian or nearest emergency facility for guidance.  We will do everything we can to help you get the care your pet needs as quickly as possible.

Emergency First Aid: What to do before arriving at the hospital


It can be quite distressing to witness your pet experiencing an emergency. The most important thing you can do is to bring your dog or cat to your veterinarian as soon as possible to maximize the chance of recovery. In this article, we will discuss some actions that you can take for certain situations before you are able to transport your pet to the hospital.


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posted in:  FIrst Aid  |  Pet Emergencies  |  Pet Injury Treatment  |  Toxins

Preparing for the Worst: Putting Together an Effective First Aid Kit for Your Pet

first aid kit

A stomachache from a large box of Valentine’s Day dark chocolates. Bleeding bite wounds from a tussle with another dog over a rawhide. Swollen red eyes from an unfortunate skunk encounter. A swollen muzzle from a bee sting outside. Sometimes it may seem like your mischievous Labrador Retriever has a never-ending penchant for finding misfortune. Putting together a first aid kit ahead of time can help you prepare for these emergencies and aid in your pet’s recovery from his misadventures. You can buy a premade kit from various retailers, or you can assemble one yourself with the following items:

Medical records and phone numbers: Many emergencies will require the attention of a professional, so make sure you always keep your veterinarian’s number and address handy. Additionally, many emergencies seem to take place at night or on the weekends when your veterinarian’s office is closed, so be sure to familiarize yourself with your local emergency hospital’s phone number and address. Keep a copy of your pet’s rabies certificate and pertinent medical records, especially if her medical history is complex and she is on multiple medications. It is also useful to keep a pet poison control number on hand in case of toxicities. Two such services are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435), and the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661). Both have fees associated with consultations, but are invaluable in their offerings of vast databases of toxins and knowledgeable experts.

Bandaging materials: A romp through the woods can quickly result in a bleeding paw. Bandaging materials such as self-adherent material (“Vetwrap”), nonstick sterile pads, adhesive tape, and cast padding can help keep a wound clean until you reach your veterinarian’s office.

Towels/ Blankets: These are useful to include in your first aid kit for a variety of reasons. They may be used to apply pressure on wounds, used as a sling to support your pet if he is having trouble walking, or used as a stretcher to move a non-ambulatory patient.

Medications: 3% hydrogen peroxide is always useful to keep on hand in case your pet ingests a toxin or foreign material and you need to induce vomiting. Always consult a veterinarian before making your pet vomit. Some things are harmful if vomited up, and too much hydrogen peroxide can cause serious esophageal and stomach injury.

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is another medication that can be very useful. It can be used in case of allergic reactions. Always make sure you obtain the correct dose from your veterinarian before administering. If your pet has a history of life-threatening allergic reactions, you may wish to have an EpiPen on hand.

Karo syrup is a high-sugar product that is valuable for pets experiencing life-threatening drops in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It is especially important to have available if your pet has a condition in which low blood sugar may be a problem (such as diabetes).

Oral syringe or turkey baster: Useful for administering oral medications and flushing wounds.

Thermometer: Used to check rectal temperature (lubricated with petroleum jelly). Normal is generally between 100- 102.5 F.

Muzzle or cloth strips to act as a muzzle: These are useful for very painful, panicked dogs (such as those that have been struck by a vehicle) that you may need to handle for transportation for treatment.

Kwikstop or corn starch: for nail bleeds.

Dish detergent: to clean off chemicals from the coat and skin.

E-collar: to prevent pets from licking wounds or pawing at injured eyes.

Gauze squares, cotton balls

Leash/ cat carrier

Latex gloves

Blunt-tipped scissors

Saline for flushing wounds, ophthalmic solution for flushing eyes

Needlenose pliers or hemostats

Tweezers or other apparatus to remove ticks

Antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes

Veterinary first aid book

There are several items you should not include in your pet’s first aid kit. Refrain from administering any over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. Dogs, and especially cats, are very sensitive to the harmful side effects of these medications, and in addition, they may interfere with pain medications your veterinarian wishes to prescribe. Use of these drugs can cause ulceration or even perforation of the gastrointestinal tract, and liver or kidney failure.

Remember, a good first aid kit is a very useful start to addressing your pet’s mishaps, but does not necessarily act as a substitute for professional care. Be sure to contact your veterinarian’s office in the event of an emergency so that the staff can advise you appropriately.

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Rodenticides: Deadly Not Just to Rats


Scruffy, a rambunctious two-year-old terrier, was at his summer cabin when he found a special treat under the cabinet—a tray of delicious green pellets. His family found the evidence later that evening, and monitored him over the next few days for any signs of illness. His stool was green for a day or two, but otherwise he seemed fine, and his owners breathed a sigh of relief. The following week, however, it was evident that something was seriously wrong. Scruffy started throwing up blood, developing dark diarrhea, and had difficulty breathing. At this point, he was rushed to the animal hospital, where tests showed severe clotting abnormalities. Fortunately, after several days of intensive care, Scruffy was eventually discharged.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence, and not all patients are so lucky. This story highlights the need to address rodenticide exposures as early as possible. There are several types of rat poisons on the market, and some may have delayed effects. It is vital to call your veterinarian as soon as possible so that decontamination and treatment measures can be initiated and the toxicity mitigated.


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Are You Prepared for a Pet Emergency?

Lucerne_iStock_000022610052_LargeMost of us have known someone whose pet has experienced an emergency. Indeed, you may have had to respond to such a frightening and serious situation with your own pet. In these cases, we are almost always caught off guard and sometimes do not know how to act on our pet’s behalf.

We often hear that medical emergencies are best dealt with through quick thinking, remaining calm, and applying our emergency preparedness tools and first-aid skills. This is also true for pet emergencies.

Unfortunately, our pets cannot directly tell us what is wrong, and symptoms can sometimes be subtle. That’s why it is even more important to have a solid understand of what constitutes a pet emergency and how to intervene. Continue…

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