EMERGENCY & CRITICAL CARE
Our small animal emergency service sees emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We welcome both referral and walk-in veterinary emergencies of any kind. No appointment is needed for your pet to visit the emergency service – you can show up any time. If either you or your veterinarian would like to discuss your pet’s care with the veterinary emergency team prior to coming in, please call our emergency 225-578-9600. Even if LSU is officially closed for holidays or disasters like hurricanes, our hospital remains open to provide emergency care for animals.
Pets and Small Exotics
For emergencies involving horses and livestock, please contact our Large Animal Desk at 225-578-9500.
Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Care
The need to seek emergency care for your pet is often clear, as was the case with
who had been hit by a car, and Oliver, who had been bitten by a snake. Both dogs are
doing well after treatment in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Small Animal
Emergency and Critical Care unit.
However, sometimes the decision to get emergency care is less evident. Here
are some potentially life-saving guidelines:
- Difficulty breathing: If a dog or a cat has an increased breathing rate, or an increased
respiratory effort, they should be brought to a veterinarian immediately. There are a lot of
different life-threatening conditions that are associated with an increase in respiratory rate
and/or effort, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, heartworm, severe anemia or
pleural space disease (effusion, pneumothorax).
- Active bleeding: any active bleeding should always be investigated. It can be a result of a traumatic injury and require surgical treatment but could also indicate an abnormal clotting ability or other systemic disease.
- Seizures: Pets can have focal or generalized seizures. Seizures can present in a variety of form depending on their severity. Focal seizures usually affect one part of the brain and can be associated with clinical signs such as facial twitching and flee biting. Grand Mal seizures are associated with a loss of consciousness from the pet, involuntary movements (like paddling) and possible urination, salivation, and defecation. Seizures always originate from the brain, but they can have extracranial or intracranial causes. Extracranial causes, such as hypoglycemia, portosystemic shunt or toxins, are linked to a derangement elsewhere in the body that secondarily affect the brain. Intracranial causes can vary from infectious/inflammatory causes to traumatic or neoplastic disease.
- Collapse, syncopal episodes: Immediate care should always be sought if a pet loses consciousness. Collapsing or syncopal episodes are usually related to a cardiac or a neurologic problem.
- Distended abdomen: An acute distension of the abdomen of a dog or a cat should always be investigated immediately. It could be associated with a food bloat but could also be seen in patients with a large amount of abdominal effusion or gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). Large breed dogs are especially at risk for GDV. Dogs presenting with GDV can be restless, painful, retching but unable to vomit. If left untreated, these dogs’ cardiovascular function will be affected and without immediate treatment, these dogs will die.
- Known toxin ingestion: If the pet is observed eating or chewing on any potential toxins (human medications, plants, cleaning products, human foods such as chocolate or raisins), we recommend contacting Pet Poison Helpline, a 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center, or ASPCA. They are two resources available for owners to call and they will be able to determine if the patient is at risk for complication and needs to seek immediate treatment. Early decontamination (including induction of emesis or treatment with activated charcoal) are most of the time, the key to prevent any complications associated to the toxin. If patients already present with clinical signs, they may require, depending on the toxin, extended critical care treatment. Some toxins (sago palm, rat poison, ethylene glycol) can be fatal if left untreated.
- Unable to stand or walk: If a pet is unable to stand or walk, immediate care should be sought. Multiple conditions are associated with the loss of ambulation, and could include neurologic conditions (spinal cord, brain or nerve diseases), cardiovascular conditions (acute blood loss, heart failure) or metabolic conditions (severe anemia, hypoglycemia).
- Severe vomiting/diarrhea: It is important to investigate severe vomiting and diarrhea episodes in our pets. They are unspecific clinical signs that can be caused by dysfunction of many different organ system, (gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, urogenital system, liver). Severe vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to severe dehydration in our pets if left untreated.
- Hit by car, known trauma: When a pet undergoes a significant trauma, rapid veterinary assessment of his traumatic injuries is extremely important. Many internal injuries, such as bleeding into the abdomen or chest, pneumothorax, lung contusions, bladder rupture or fractures, will not be obvious to a pet owner but can be life-threatening injuries if left untreated.
The veterinary emergency service is equipped to deal with any pet emergency from trauma to severe infection. Typical conditions that are seen by the emergency service include:
- Animals who have been hit by a car
- Severe bleeding
- Bloat (GDV)
- Wounds or lacerations
- Acute kidney disease
- Acute vomiting or diarrhea
- Complications of veterinary medical conditions such as diabetes
- Breathing difficulties
- Heart failure or severe arrhythmias
- Abdominal pain
Once your pet is seen by the veterinary emergency service, they will either be treated and sent home if they are recovered or hospitalized in our small animal intensive care unit or with the appropriate other veterinary specialist services in the hospital such as internal medicine, cardiology, oncology or surgery.
You will get regular updates about your pet’s condition and will be closely involved in decision making regarding tests and treatment options. Your primary care veterinarian will also be kept updated on test results and your pet's progress.
Intensive Care Unit
The Small Animal Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is dedicated to providing the highest quality care to critically ill small animal patients. Our ICU unit is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by a team of trained veterinary nurses working closely with faculty veterinarians, veterinary residents, interns, and students. The care and well-being of your pet is assessed constantly by members of the ICU team.
Each patient admitted to the ICU has a team of caregivers that works closely with other specialty services in the hospital, such as surgery, internal medicine, cardiology, and oncology to provide the highest possible level of care to each patient and to access a wide range of expertise from across the hospital.
Severely ill or injured patients have been admitted to the ICU because of a life-threatening disease or condition and/or due to special needs (such as advanced pain management or complex fluid or drug therapy).
Patients include those with complex and multisystemic diseases processes such as:
- Acute renal failure
- Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy
- Multi-trauma patients
- Respiratory failure
- Snake bite
- Congestive heart disease and severe cardiac rhythm disturbances
- Recovery from major surgery
The Small Animal ICU provides state-of-the-art critical care monitoring and therapy. We specialize in advanced monitoring such as:
- Direct and indirect arterial and central venous pressure monitoring
- Lithium dilution cardiac output measurements
- Renal clearances
- Arterial and venous blood gas analysis
- Pulse oximetry
- End-tidal capnography and measurement of lung mechanics
- Urinary output monitoring via closed urinary collection systems and
- Bedside monitoring of blood gases, hematocrit, hemoglobin, electrolytes and colloid osmotic pressure.
Our veterinary technicians and doctors are trained and skilled in providing advanced therapies including:
- Fluid and colloid therapy
- Blood and plasma transfusion
- Hemodialysis for renal failure or certain toxicities
- Charcoal hemoperfusion in acute toxicities
- Cardiopulmonary cerebral resuscitation
- Oxygen supplementation
- Advanced pain management
- Mechanical ventilation
- Nutritional support
- Wound care
What to Expect
- While our focus is emergency and critical care, our patients have access to all of the specialty services and equipment that our Veterinary Teaching Hospital has to offer, and we will share information with your primary care veterinarian about your pet’s status, conditions, and treatment.
- Our most critical cases are treated in the small animal intensive care unit, which
also serves as an anesthesia and surgery recovery area for the veterinary teaching
- 52-patient capacity, including runs for large dogs
- Oxygen cages to provide oxygen supplementation/therapy in a safe and non-invasive manner.
- Continuous ECG, blood pressure, and body temperature monitoring equipment
- Programmable intravenous fluid pumps to deliver precise amounts of medication and fluid therapy
Faculty and Staff
Interns and Residents
Karla Fraga, DVM
Tomoe Kadowaki, DVM
Adam Moreno, DVM
Emergency & Critical Care/Zoological Medicine Intern
Ashok Padmanabhan, DVM (LSU 2006)
Emily Schlake, DVM
Emergency & Critical Care/Zoological Medicine Intern
Shelby Beavers, ICU
Ashley Behringer, ICU
Lauren Broussard, ICU
Lydia Chambers, ICU
Beth Courville, ICU
Emily Gibson, ICU
Mia Hoffpauir, ICU
Jose Juarez, ICU
Sara Moock, ICU
Jade Naquin, ICU
Beth Peterson, Emergency & Critical Care
Tessa Reeves, ICU
Katelyn Szekely, ICU
Stacy Tanner, ICU
Francis Wheat, ICU
Asia Williams, ICU
Ashley Wilson, Emergency & Critical Care