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Posts Tagged ‘field medicine’

I love walking outdoors, and my dogs love to work. And those are two of the major reasons I like hunt tests and hunting. They are all excuses to be outdoors, watching my dogs do the thing they love.

As much as the dogs and I love working outdoors, it’s not always safe for the dogs. And I’m not talking about the big dramatic things, like getting lost, falling down a bank, or running into a trap. And I’m not talking about the annoying but not dangerous collection of burrs and twigs in the coat. I’m talking about little insidious things. Like seeds. Like grass awns. Like splinters of cactus spines.

Before today, we already knew a little something about this. You might remember that Cooper got a seed trapped under a third eyelid while doing a summertime hunting demonstration, causing the whole area around the eye to swell, grow painful, and become inflamed and weepy. When he got home that day, we’d done the best job we could, carefully searching out and removing all the seeds we could find from his eyes, ears, feet, and anus. But even with our best efforts, Cooper still had to go to the vet for treatment.

Today Carlin joined the ranks of dogs who go to the vet after hunting.

We’re not sure what the nasty small thing that got Carlin was because, whatever it was, it was either already gone or too small to see. But it was something sharp and nasty, like a grass awn or a cactus splinter, something he would have encountered in California at the hunt test or Colorado while hunting. It burrowed its way into the skin between two toes, and then, based on what the vet saw, it traveled halfway up the paw and then straight down, stopping just short of coming out between two pads at the bottom of his foot.

The vet opened the track left by the debris, and flushed it out several times. Now Carlin is home, recuperating. We’re in for a week of foot soaks, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory meds, but that’s OK.

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See? I have an owie, but the vet cleaned it up really nice

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Getting my foot soaked is not so bad. I get lots of treats!

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I am being a very good boy. I lick my foot just a little bit. The vet says that’s OK because it keeps the wound open. Good vet!

Carlin doesn’t seem too unhappy. He’d been sedated, so he was a bit loopy when he came home. But he’s not licking the wound excessively, he’s not limping, and he’ll let me touch it, so I think maybe we’re going to be OK.

My friend Sharon advised me to make some changes to my grooming routine when I go hunting in dry areas, where grass awns and seeds abound. She suggested I trim the fur out from between his toes. Apparently, grass awns and other debris hook onto the fur, and that gives them the traction they need to propel themselves into the skin. If I’m very careful, she says, if I use a very small scissors, I can trim the coat from just between the toes and still leave enough coat on the top of the toes to keep him decent looking enough for a conformation dog show.

I’ll give it a try, but I wonder — maybe Carlin doesn’t want to be a show dog. First he gets a series of skin infections that makes him drop his fur. Then, after that has finally grown out again into a beautiful show-worthy coat, he rolls himself in a field of burrs in Montana in October, requiring a very, very short all-over clip to get them all out. And now, just when I think he might be barely presentable in January, he gets into something sharp and nasty, requiring a foot shave.

I guess I could stop taking him hunting… Nah!

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Some years ago, our friend and sometime hunting partner, Rod, told us to always check our dogs’ eyes when we come in from hunting. The reason? To find and remove any seeds that may have worked their way in under the eyelids.

Our IWS regularly come in from hunting covered with debris — seeds, twigs, burrs, grass — so checking the eyes has become a regular part of the post-hunt, post-field training, coming-home-and-cleaning-up process. In fact, last Saturday, while driving home from a day of hunting with a debris-covered Cooper, Russ joked to his buddy that the first thing out of my mouth when they arrived at the house would be, “Oh my God, did you check his eyes?”

And of course, Russ had checked his eyes, several times out in the field and just before coming home. I checked his eyes when they got home. We found seeds, and got out everything we could find.

By the time Sunday afternoon came around, Cooper’s eyes were red, swollen, and weepy, particularly the left eye. We first thought it was allergies from all the grasses, and so gave him Benedryl. But on Monday morning, the swelling hadn’t gone down. In fact, it had gotten worse.

We got him into the vet at their earliest appointment, where they examined his eyes, pulling the upper, lower, and “third” (nictitating membrane) eyelids away from the eyeball with forceps. Then they put a yellow dye in his eyes and looked at them using ultraviolet light.

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Despite all our efforts, the vet found a seed under the third eyelid (the brown inner lid in the lower inside corner of the eye). They also found that the seed had scratched the cornea (which shows up as green on the outside corner of the eyeball).

They also checked his feet, which had gotten uncomfortably chafed by the grasses and cat tails, and small cuts on his nose. These injuries are annoying and uncomfortable, but not dangerous.

For his eyes, they prescribed a 2x/day ointment, which I think also soothes his eyes. And for his feet, we were told to simply clean them and apply antibiotic ointment to the chafed areas.

It’s been 4 days now since the vet appointment, and his eyes have returned to their normal shape and have lost their red weepiness. His feet are healing up nicely, and the little nicks on his nose and also just about closed and healed.

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