by Melody Joy Cary
Caruso’s Story: Why Early Intervention Matters
In the veterinary world, a sadly common occurrence is owners bringing in their pets long after a problem develops. So long that there is little or nothing that can be done. This is one such story that outlines exactly why early intervention matters for our furry friends.
My first interaction with the little Maltese dog was to take him for a walk in the morning. He had been dropped off the night before and was at the top of the list for surgeries that day. The small dog was having stones removed from his bladder, a fairly common and routine surgical procedure.
He had originally been diagnosed with bladder stones several months earlier, but his owners didn’t have the money at the time for the surgery, so they waited to have it done. Even so, the procedure went well and Caruso went home that evening.
The following week, Caruso was brought back into the clinic. His owners reported that for several days, he had not been urinating, refused to sit or lay down, and appeared to be in pain. Sure enough, he stood absolutely rigid on the exam table, a look of pain clearly written across his face.
The vet worked quickly to figure out what was going on. He didn’t have an infection in the incision site, and the first set of x-rays indicated that there were no bladder stones. It also showed that his bladder was a normal size.
Suspecting the problem, the vet inserted a catheter and pushed saline into the dog’s bladder to fill it, then took another x-ray. Despite having been pumped with a large amount of saline, his bladder was the same size. Everything that was entering his bladder was ending up in his abdomen.
He was opened back up immediately, and the problem was discovered. In between the stitches, the thick muscular walls of the bladder had come open. The inflammation caused by the prolonged presence of the stones had caused the problem.
I assisted in Caruso’s second surgery, helping to pour bags and bags of warmed saline over his intestines that were also now inflamed because of the urine that they had been sitting in. Once everything had been thoroughly cleaned, the vet worked to carefully re-stitch the bladder, adding several layers of tiny stitches to ensure it stayed closed.
Fortunately for Caruso, when he came back for a follow-up, everything was back to normal.
Why Early Intervention Matters
Although Caruso had a happy ending, many other animals don’t. Here are some of the reasons why early intervention matters.
- You Could Save Your Pet’s Life
In many cases, a life-threatening problem can be taken care of when it’s still a small issue. In Caruso’s case, if the stones had been removed as soon as he was diagnosed, he likely wouldn’t have had any complications from surgery.
Caruso was lucky that his owners did bring him back when they did. If they had waited, he likely wouldn’t have made it much longer. Urine is extremely acidic and meant to stay inside the bladder for a reason.
- You’ll Save Money
This is something else that we can learn from Caruso’s story. If his owners had found a way to have his surgery done earlier, they would have saved themselves a lot of money since there wouldn’t have been a need for a second surgery.
Many times, a condition gets more complicated over time which also makes it more expensive to treat. Something as simple as an ear infection, for example, could end up spreading to other parts of the skin if you don’t get it taken care of right away. At that point, you’ll have to buy more medication and it will cost you more money.
- You’ll Save Time
If you’re like most people, you probably have something better you could be doing with your time instead of taking your pet to the vet. By making sure they get the early intervention they need, you can avoid multiple trips to the vet to solve the problem.
In Caruso’s case, his owners were so busy they had to drop him off the night before for the first surgery, yet ended up having to bring him back for another surgery and then another follow-up. So they essentially doubled the amount of time they needed to take care of one problem.
I wish Caruso was the only case I saw where an owner waited until the problem had become more complicated. Unfortunately, there are many owners that do the same, and many pets that suffer because of it.
For the sake of your pet and your own sake, intervene as soon as possible. Early intervention matters, and it makes a difference. It may even save your pet’s life.
Melody Joy Cary is a freelance writer who specializes in pets and animals. She has years of experience working at vet clinics and as a barn manager that she puts to good use now. Although she grew up in Michigan, she is now living in Nicaragua with her wonderful husband, sweet baby girl, and a crazy cat. If she had spare time, she would likely spend it reading or painting.
You can find her website here: melodyjoycary.com