Emergency Vet Hospital: Our First Visit

In all the years my family had a dog, I had never been to an emergency vet clinic until last night. And, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

First off, every emergency vet clinic should have a vending machine in the waiting room filled with Xanax, or some other human anti-anxiety medication, because I think I would’ve been able to make better educated decisions while medicated than in a frantic, complete state of panic.

A very long story short, while out to dinner I got a call saying Toby wasn’t putting his leg down and was yelping. After several more phone calls and a long debate over feeling bad about ruining everyone’s night, (thanks Amy and Lynette for being so amazingly understanding!) I went home to find Toby in extreme pain, unable to put weight on his back right leg and hopping around whining.

[Enter complete panic/worse case scenario thinking]

We had been through similar things before, because Toby has luxating patella in both his back knees. But, this time it was way different. He had a blank look on his face, almost like he was in a different world, would let out a loud yelp when I touched his foot and wouldn’t even let me hold him. Something was definitely wrong. 

I had some leftover rimadyl from last time he hurts his leg and while researching how long the medication is good for (ours was over two years old) I found some information that said a dog could go into shock if they broke or sprained their leg. That was when I decided it was time to go to the emergency room.

Wrapped in a blue blanket and me almost in tears, Toby and I headed to our first emergency vet visit. Now, you have to understand, Toby’s vet has been used by my family for as long I can remember, and vets from his practice also work at the emergency hospital.

That said, the first question out of my mouth probably shouldn’t have been, “Is Dr. O’Neil or Dr. Lewis here tonight by any chance?” followed later on by, “Do you think I can wait till morning for x-rays since I would really feel more comfortable with Ira?”

[Note to self: Don’t piss off the vets who are taking care of your dog at 1 a.m.]

Now already after 2 a.m., I trusted my gut and decided it was better to wait till morning and go to my regular vet. They gave him two shots, and we went home.Toby had to stay crated and warm, so I put out a futon cushion on the floor and slept next to the crate to make sure he was OK. We woke up to call from my vet’s office asking what time I could bring him in.

My vet came to the conclusion Toby had an anterior cruciate rupture. He walked me through all my options and what the next steps were, as well as showed me photos of what it should look like and what a ruptured one looks like. When I walked out of the office to put him in the car, the receptionist ask if he was OK? I said, “kinda.” She followed up with, “Are you OK?” Didn’t even have to think, “No.” And, she smiled.

Toby still isn’t using his injured leg, but is on rimadyl and confined to his crate. He did finally start barking again, and doesn’t have the spaced out look in his eyes like he had when we left the vet hospital. Monday morning we go back to see my vet, and if Toby is still in pain they will do x-rays and depending on the results, will operate on him.

Why did I write this? When I started writing this website, I knew that by sharing with our pals all the good and fun things, that someday there would be upsetting situations that would happen, and I made a promise to myself I would write about them, too because you don’t know who has gone though something similar and can share a tip, or if your information can help someone else.

10 thoughts on “Emergency Vet Hospital: Our First Visit

  1. We've spent a handful of nights in the veterinary ER and it's always a gut-wrenching experience. I would so love Xanax in the vending machine! I've also been through an ACL reconstruction years ago with my Shar-pei. I hope Toby is feeling better and if there is anything I can do, please let me know.

  2. Standard procedure for check in should include a choice of stiff drink or a Valium. I've been everything from the girl crying uncontrollably to the one breaking into inappropriate fits of giggles. In both those situations I would have given anything for SOMETHING to calm me down and let me focus. Hope Toby has a quick recovery!

  3. Sending good thoughts for Toby and you. Hope he will soon be on his feet again. Thank you for sharing this story, I understand how you feel. We had to visit the emergency clinic once and I can relate to the state of panic and also your relunctancy to take advice from a "strange" vet. But I think you made the right decision by letting them only do what was absolutely necessary and taking "the rest" up with your regular vet the next day.

  4. Your vending machine idea brought a smile to a post about a very scary time; we've had emergency vet visits with our dogs and cats and those are definitely stressful times! I hope Toby's feeling better this morning…he is one lucky pup to have such a loving and conscientious mom!

  5. Thank you everyone. Toby and I really appreciate the sweet thoughts. He seems to be doing a little better today in terms of acting more like himself, but he is still having a rough time walking.

  6. Hi! Totally agree with the Xanax vending machines!

    So sorry about Toby's leg! So sorry his cruciate gave him so much pain. Jasmine had both ACLs ruptured, she limped heavily but never cried.

    If it indeed is a torn ligament, he is not likely to start using his leg until it is fixed. There are many treatment options for torn cruciate ligament from conservative management to variety of surgical repairs.

    If you want you can contact me about this.

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