Interesting Cases: Pippa's Ordeal

Pippa was presented in March at about 6 pm one evening. Pippa, a Border Collie, had been too fixated playing with a ball to watch where she was going and she'd run into a stick! Nick, her owner, had spent an incredibly difficult period rescuing her from bush at the back of her home.This injury was incredibly painful and Nick could see that she was bleeding excessively. She'd been deeply staked in the shoulder.

Due to the injury and the extreme discomfort, it was a miraculous job actually getting her to the surgery. Nick managed to do this  singled handedly. Nick did however required his own medical treatment after the rescue.

Pippa's biggest problems were a combination of pain and blood loss but managing her pain became the most  immediate priority. This pain made her very hard to examine and move, as Nick had discovered. Controlling her pain was essential so that we could examine her injuries fully. Luckily we had all "hands on deck", so with the help of 2 vets and 2 nurses we were able to relieve her pain and ultimately remove a thick 10cm stick lodged deep in her shoulder .  Pippa was settled overnight  with strong pain relief. By morning, it was clear that Pippa' ordeal was far from over.

The decision was made to give Pippa a general anaesthetic to more fully explore the damage under her front leg, shoulder and chest where the stick had penetrated. A smaller piece of stick was lodged in the area of her "brachial plexus", which is a minefield of blood vessels and nerves supplying the front leg. One of these blood vessels was bleeding which needed to be stopped immediately. The team did a tremendous effort stemming the flow, removing the remaining bit of stick and keeping her alive. As luck would have it, Lexie (our Practice Manager Cheryl's dog) had escorted her to work that day. Lexie very kindly donated blood to Pippa which proved life saving.

Amazingly, Pip was able to walk out of the clinic and go home the following day and has fully recovered.

Sticks can prove to be very dangerous to dogs as Pippa has shown. One of the worst type of injuries that can occur is when dogs chase  sticks. If they mistime grabbing the stick, the stick can pierce the back of the throat. These injuries can be very complicated or catastrophic. So we would always recommend that you choose other items to throw: eg balls, soft throw sticks/ safety sticks, frisbees.

Moving injured pets can also be difficult. Animals in pain and alarmed by their own injury may bite out of character when in pain or scared even if normally they are good natured. Using a large, thick blanket (or large, thick towel for cats) to swaddle the whole pet can offer your pet security as well as ensuring your own safety. Injured birds can also inflict serious injury so the same technique works well for them. If an animal is bleeding it is best to apply continuous firm pressure to the site and seek veterinary attention immediately. If possible phone ahead of time or when on your way so we are ready to deal with urgent cases promptly.


This is the large, offending stick that caused all the problems.

Pippa is enjoying some quality time at home, just working on growing that hair back under her shoulder for the cooler evenings of April and May. Pippa has made a full recovery and has even become less anxious about visiting the Vets after her huge ordeal.


Pippa, Nick and Jacqui at home 1 week later.

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