The Pen Cap May Be Mightier than the Sword…

But it can’t beat a bronchoscope!

One thing I love about pets is their unpredictability. You just can never guess what they will do next. Here’s the story of Barcley, the French bulldog and the nearly fatal pen cap.

The beginning seemed innocent enough: a dog playing with a bright blue highlighter pen. Suddenly, he couldn’t breathe and his owners rushed him to The Animal Medical Center. Quick administration of oxygen and a sedative by the ER staff seemed to alleviate the breathing problem enough to allow a chest x-ray to be taken.

No one would have predicted the x-ray would show Barcley’s windpipe contained what looked like the cap of the bright blue highlighter!

The ER staff had to think quickly and cleverly. Barcley needed anesthesia and a bronchoscope to remove the highlighter pen cap, but the standard anesthetic plan of placing a breathing tube into the windpipe was out of the question; it was already full of the highlighter cap. To further complicate matters, Barcley is a brachycephalic (short nosed) dog, a type of dog known to have a greater risk of anesthetic complications.

Dr. Stacy Burdick of The AMC's Internal Medicine Service was called in at 1:30 am to perform the procedure which took 20 minutes, but seemed like a lifetime. She placed a small rubber tube in the windpipe to deliver oxygen and administered an injectable anesthetic agent into Barcley’s vein. Dr. Burdick cautiously advanced the bronchoscope down Barcley’s windpipe. She was worried the windpipe could have been damaged as the cap went down, or worse, the windpipe could tear when she pulled it back up.

On the right, you can see what Dr. Burdick saw when the cap came into view. The cap blocked the entire lumen of the windpipe. Knowing she had to work quickly to restore the delivery of oxygen to the lungs, she passed a special grabber device through the bronchoscope, grabbed the cap and gently pulled it gently out through the mouth as she pulled out the bronchoscope.

Barcley’s life was saved from the pen cap by the mighty bronchoscope and the skilled Dr. Burdick.

________________________________________________________

This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

Tricks of the Trade

Last week one of my senior patients had a bad week. He developed bloat and needed emergency surgery. The surgical team pulled him through, but now he isn’t eating very well AND he needs to take lots of pills. Every pet owner who has ever had a sick pet knows what a tribulation it is getting medications into a pet that is not eating. Every veterinarian has a few tricks up his or her sleeve to help jump start the appetite or disguise a pill for the reluctant eater. Here are the suggestions I made to the family to increase their dog’s appetite and to make pill administration easier, which they suggested I share the list with AMC’s blog readers:

Warm food is tastier than cold food. Even dry food benefits from a few seconds in the microwave. Warm food has a greater aroma and just a nice whiff of tasty food will encourage the reluctant eater to take a bite or two. Try making your pet’s regular food more appealing. Dress food up with a dash of garlic powder, not garlic salt since none of us need more salt in our diets. Mix a warm flavoring into the food – try canned beef broth, chicken broth or, if your cat likes, fish or clam juice or the water from a can of tuna. There are also commercially available flavoring sauces for pets, so check your favorite pet store. Pill popping is just another trial for the owner of a sick pet. I can’t take credit for coming up with these – my patients’ owners have let me in on their secrets. The main theme of the substances used successfully have a gummy texture. You need gummy to hold the pill while you pop it in your pet’s mouth. Foods to consider as camouflage for pills include: cream cheese, Velveeta cheese and peanut butter. If the pill is dull, not shiny, some pet owners lubricate the pill with olive oil or butter to make it slide down more easily. There are also commercially available pill pockets, which are gummy and have built in area to mask any hint of medication. No matter how you get the pill down their throat, give a drink of water afterwards to make sure the pill goes down all the way.

For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.