Halloween Horrors

Halloween is approaching and soon children will be dressed as spooky skeletons and gory ghouls. But in the veterinary industry we don’t get scared off by skeletons and blood and guts… in fact, we find all that stuff quite interesting! If you really want to give our vets and vet nurses a fright, continue reading to see what really scares us.

A foreign body is an object that has been ingested by an animal that doesn’t form a part of their normal diet. Loose parts or stuffing from damaged toys as well as chewed tennis balls and bottle caps are likely candidates. Foreign bodies can get stuck in your dog’s bowell and cause all sorts of harm.  In the worst case scenario the gut wall may rupture and bacteria enters the abdomen causing severe pain, infection, shock and possible death. Pretty scary stuff!

String is equally terrifying if swallowed. It can cause the intestines to bunch up and can even cut through them! So if you want to give your veterinary team the heebie jeebies, show them the broken toys, tennis balls and bits of string that pets can play with and swallow. These nightmarish scenes can be avoided by using good quality toys that are appropriate for your pet’s size. Regularly check toys for any damage or potential hazards and please don’t give your cat a ball of wool to play with unless you want to scare us half to death!

Now, if you really want to freak out your vet, tell them you don’t want to have your pet desexed. Keeping your pet “entire” because you are a responsible registered breeder is not what scares us. What does scare us is when you choose not to desex your dog or cat without having a valid reason. Aside from the issues associated with unwanted pregnancies, increased likelihood of certain cancers and behavioural concerns (as if that wasn’t enough), there’s an extra thought that gives us goose bumps. Once a female dog or cat has had a heat cycle and not become pregnant, hormonal changes in the reproductive tract make it susceptible to an infection called Pyometra. It literally means “ Pus filled Uterus” and it is life threatening. So when you say you’re not going to have your pet desexed, we get flashbacks to life-and-death pyometra surgeries that are much scarier than any of your Halloween monsters.

Something we hear that gives us a fright, worse than a scary clown jumping out from behind a corner, is hearing the words, “I dabbed a bit of Dettol on it”! Nooooooo! That’s a terrifying way to deal with your pet’s cuts and scratches. Dettol can cause serious chemical burns if not diluted appropriately causing more damage than good. Furthermore, Dettol and other cleaning products containing Phenol are toxic, particularly to cats as they cannot excrete it from their system. Not only do you risk burning their skin, but poisoning them if they lick at the wound.  Instead, gently flush wounds with tepid fresh or saline water (1teaspoon in 1Litre). If the wound is bad enough that you are considering using an antiseptic, it is bad enough to contact us for advice. Don’t “dab a bit of Dettol on it” unless you’re working on some sort of veterinary first aid horror film.

Chemical burns, poisoning, intestinal walls that have ruptured and pus filled uteruses are pretty gross and suitably Halloween-like in nature, but that’s not what scares us the most. It’s that each of those things is entirely preventable. Preventable injuries and illnesses are the boogie men that we fear are hiding just around the corner, waiting to get us. So please, keep your vet safe from the boogie man, and your pets safe from preventable disasters this Halloween.


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