By Megan Palsa
Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
For Klause—a 2-year-old red dachshund with an infectious personality—the road to recovery seemed out of sight after a mauling by an unknown animal left him almost unrecognizable.
But thanks to the work of a team of doctors at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH), Klause has returned home and is expected to make a full recovery.
Klause’s owner Cheryl Chadwick had let Klause and his sibling Chloe out one last time before bed at around 10:30 p.m., when she heard a loud noise and raced outside to find the two. Seeing the extent of Klause’s injuries, Chadwick called her local veterinarian, who told her she had two choices—leave Klause with him overnight, or bring him to Texas A&M.
When Klause arrived at the Small Animal Hospital (SAH), emergency room doctors found puncture wounds in his abdomen and a hole in his lung. Part of his liver also had been torn and was displaced in his abdomen.
Dr. Laurie Torkildsen, a third-year critical care resident at the SAH, said that Klause ranks in the top-5 most severe trauma cases of her career thus far.
Although the hospital deals with mauling incidents quite frequently, Torkildsen explained that the penetrating wounds to both Klause’s chest and abdominal cavity, as well as the damage to his lung, made this a rare and more severe case.
A Guarded Prognosis
“Anytime we have any penetrating wounds into a body cavity, we flush it out so an infection doesn’t brew. Then we went into his chest. He was very critical under anesthesia and we almost lost him a few times,” Torkildsen said. “We were able to partially tie off his lung to try and stop the leaking, but he was not doing well enough for us to completely stop it.”
To complete the surgery, Torildsen performed a rare procedure called a pleurodesis, which requires taking blood and putting it in into the chest cavity.
“The hope is that all of the things that make your blood clot will cause the hole to plug,” she said. “I actually used my own personal dog, took his blood and gave it to Klause. After the second procedure, it worked, and we were able to stop the leaking lung.”
Even after receiving a guarded prognosis and waiting through several difficult procedures, Chadwick said she never lost faith that her sweet Klause would return home.
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