Sometimes, working at a private zoo can be odd. The fact that the zoo is private means that there is a large house on the grounds. And in that house live people. Some of those people have pets.
And where zoo keeping and pet wrangling meet, communication trouble is sure to follow...
Take today for instance. I was calmly cleaning the squirrel monkey enclosure when I received an urgent message. Come quick, it said. One of the dogs is in trouble! Hurry, she needs to get to the vet right away! So of course I dropped everything and ran, clomping over the marble entry in my steel-toed rubber boots. The emergency? The pup is very fluffy and she had failed to adequately clean herself after her last trip outdoors. That's right, she had a poopy butt. The problem was quickly resolved with some wet paper towels. Okay, I'll admit that I had to use a pair of scissors too, but what she definitely didn't need was a trip to the vet.
But it made me think: lots of folks really don't know what constitutes an animal emergency. So here, for the canine good, is a list of things that really do require a trip to the doctor (as enumerated on about.com).
- Blue, white or very pale gums
- Labored breathing
- Collapse or loss of consciousness
- Dizziness, imbalance, or circling
- Inability to walk
- Extremely bloated abdomen
- Signs of acute severe pain (such as crying out very loudly and excessively)
- Body temperature over 104 or under 99 (normal is typically 100.5-102.5)
Of course there are many other reasons to consult a vet too, like vomiting that lasts for more than a day or two, lumps, wounds, snake bites, etc. Knowing your dog is key. If she is acting "off" it may be time to visit the doctor. But please, take it from an animal care professional. A dirty dog is not an emergency.
That said, my dog Camila would like me to add one more thing to the list. Apparently being forced to wear cute/comical headgear also constitutes a dog emergency. Treat it immediately with a dog cookie and a belly rub.