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.


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: 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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A Stylish Post-Op Look: The Elizabethan Collar

Elizabethan collar


It is large, cumbersome, creates bruises on the backs of your legs, and is affectionately known as the “cone of shame”. Despite its ungainliness, the Elizabethan collar is a vital part of your pet’s recovery after major surgery. Although owners may sometimes find the cones distressing, remember that the majority of pets tolerate these very well.

The classic E-collar (short for Elizabethan collar) is a firm clear plastic collar in the shape of a lampshade that is attached around the neck to prevent a pet from accessing an incision or wound. An E-collar may be threaded through a pet’s normal collar or it may be fastened on with a separate tie. The tie should be tight enough that it will not slip off, but you should be able to fit at least two fingers between the tie and the neck. Some patients excel at removing their collars, but there are various styles of collars available to help prevent your dog or cat from bothering his incision.  Some are inflatable, and others are made of a soft material.

Why is the Elizabethan collar important?

Contrary to popular myth, saliva is not beneficial for wounds. It can introduce infection, which inhibits healing or creates abscesses. A surgical incision should remain clean and dry to prevent infection and for proper healing. If pets remove their sutures too early, wounds can break down and fail to heal in a timely manner. The consequences of a pet’s ministrations can be severe, requiring additional surgical procedures to repair damage. For example, if your pet chews at her abdominal incision, she may remove all the sutures and chew through the body wall. This can cause the internal organs to fall through.

Not all surgeries require the use of an Elizabethan collar, depending on the pet, but there are some procedures for which E-collars are especially critical. These include orthopedic surgeries, in which hardware has been placed on the bone. In these cases, infection of the bone can necessitate removal of the plate. E-collars are also useful for ophthalmic surgeries, in which even a single paw swipe of the eye can cause serious damage. Some pets will chew any incision, and these pets should wear E-collars at all times while they heal. For incisions that are on the torso, T-shirts can sometimes work well to protect the incision.

How will my pet eat and sleep wearing her cone?

After a short adjustment period, most pets handle their E-collars very well. Pets can usually eat, drink, and sleep with no trouble while wearing their cones. To facilitate eating for your pet, make sure the bowl is smaller than the diameter of the collar. You may need to raise the dish if the collar is bumping against the floor as your pet reaches for the food bowl. Some pets may need assistance at first in navigating stairs. Be wary if you decide to remove an E-collar even for a short period of time. It takes only a few minutes for a pet to completely destroy an incision!

So make sure you keep that E-collar on as directed by your veterinarian until those sutures are out (usually 10-14 days) to prevent painful and costly complications.

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