Canine calamities

Traumatic injuries are among the most common health problems affecting working dogs. Most of these are caused by stock, motorbikes or fences. Many of these conditions are treatable and many are also preventable.

Dislocated hocks and hips

These usually occur whilst working cattle or from getting hung up on fences.  Bring your dog in promptly - pain relief and prompt treatment are paramount. The sooner we replace the dislocation (provided there are no fractures), the better the likelihood of a full return to work.

Broken bones

Options for fixing fractures depend on the bone broken, which part of the bone is affected, the severity of the break and the age of the dog. If you have a dog with a broken bone, we will discuss the full treatment options with you.

Broken bones, sudden onset lameness and major lacerations are emergencies. The sooner they are attended to, the better the chance of success and smaller the chance of costly complications.

For any significant bleeding, compress the area with a clean towel and call Totally Vets in Feilding as soon as possible. Minor cuts and grazes are best cleaned with salty water when they first occur. This will decrease the bacterial contamination and help prevent infection. Avoid using trough water to clean wounds as this often is not very clean. If possible take the dog home on the bike or trailer, even if it is a small wound. Running home fills the wound with grass seed and contamination.

Prevention

A few suggestions that may help to prevent accidents from occurring:

  • Tie dogs onto the back of the ute - keep the chain short so they cannot jump off the side and hang themselves
  • Use a bike tray protector, even if it is a bit of ply wired on. Providing grip can help - a dog slipping off is likely to end in disaster. Be especially careful if there is a rail around the edge of the bike or trailer - catching feet under a rail as they jump off results in some of the nastiest fractures we see
  • Make sure the horizontal bar at the back is covered - many dogs get their shin stuck in here when jumping off and break it
  • Teach the dogs to stay behind the bike and well away from the wheels
  • Minimise barbed wire - we see numerous nasty cuts from jumps over this
  • Try to teach dogs to go through the fence, or to only use gates - less chance of getting hung up
  • Ensure dog clips are fully functioning. If they lose the sliding catch, they can get caught up on fences, which can be fatal if electric

If your dog has any major injury, e.g. broken bone or torn ligaments, anticipate that it will take a while to heal and that a 100% return to previous work is not guaranteed. The better the post-operative care (when we say "lead walks only", we mean it), the greater the chance of a speedy recovery. It takes time for a dog's fitness to build up again. Don't expect a day of brilliant runs after 6 weeks off - how would you cope?