Tea for Two with FACE Success Story Achilles and a Little Friend.
We are often asked about the kinds of pet health emergencies that are seen by our veterinary partners and referred to FACE, so that we may help qualified pet owners pay for life-saving veterinary treatments for their companion animals. There are many common pet injuries and illnesses that we and our partners see on a monthly or even weekly basis. Here’s a list of the top pet health issues helped by FACE grants. Be sure to check out our website for more detailed information on each medical condition!
Broken bones are a very common pet injury that we see on an almost weekly basis. Fractures of a dog or cat’s long bones are like human arm or leg fractures. Some young or small pets can even sustain fractures from a jump off a couch or bed. The most common signs of fractures are lameness, as well as pain and swelling at the injury site. Be sure to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Falls from high places (or being hit by a car) can cause serious, life-threatening internal injuries besides broken bones, like internal bleeding and ruptured organs, so quick diagnosis and treatment are critical.
Most commonly seen in dogs, especially Dachshunds and other breeds with similar body types, IVDD occurs when the cushions between your dog’s spinal bones swell or rupture. This can damage the spinal cord and lead to lameness, loss of sensation, incontinence, and even paralysis. Mild IVDD can be treated with non-invasive measures, but a serious case requires surgery to decompress the spine. Sadly, vets may often recommend euthanasia if a ruptured disc is left untreated.
Dogs, cats, and other pets will often get into mischief and eat things they shouldn’t. A gastrointestinal obstruction occurs when the object is not vomited up or passed through the intestinal tract. Many common household items can cause an obstruction: toy pieces, strings, rubber bands, coins, pieces of bone, etc. An object stuck in the upper GI tract can be removed via endoscopy, but many stomach and intestinal obstructions require surgery. Untreated obstructions can be fatal.
A very common veterinary emergency, often seen in male cats, urinary obstructions occur when crystals or mucus form in the kidneys and enter the bladder and urethra. Mild obstructions can cause your cat discomfort and distress, but complete obstructions (and the inability to pass any urine) cause deadly toxins to build up in your cat’s body, leading to death if left untreated. Your cat’s urinary system will need to be flushed. Chronic obstructions often require surgery. Your vet will talk to you about dietary changes to prevent the formation of crystals in the future.
Besides leading to unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, leaving your female dog or cat unspayed can also lead to a life-threatening medical condition called pyometra. It is a bacterial infection of the uterus, occurring in one quarter of unspayed female pets. Signs include lethargy, vaginal discharge, and anorexia. A seriously infected uterus can be fatal, and the recommended treatment for pyometra is removal of the uterus and ovaries.
Here in San Diego, rattlesnake bites are a fairly common pet emergency that can happen year-round because of the warm climate. Dogs are 20 times more likely to be bitten by a snake than us humans, mostly due to their inquisitive nature when they are exploring the great outdoors. A bite from a venomous snake can be fatal to your pet, and immediate treatment with antivenom is crucial. Your pet will also require additional treatment for pain, infection, and inflammation.
Emergency Caesarian sections are sometimes required if your pet is experiencing distress during the birthing process. Certain dog breeds with large head/small body size (like some bulldogs and terriers) can be especially vulnerable to problems. It is critical to bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible if she is experiencing intense contractions with no sign of puppies.
Enucleation is the removal of an eye due to an injury or illness that causes your dog or cat discomfort. In pets, enucleation is often the best solution to relieve pain. Conditions that may require removal of the eye include glaucoma, cancer, severe infection, and trauma. Your vet will perform the operation to remove the eye under anesthesia, stitching the skin closed when done.
A laceration is a cut or tear in the skin, with severe lacerations often involving blood loss and damage to underlying structures like muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves. Surgery under general anesthesia is often required to repair significant lacerations. Lacerations should be treated as soon as possible to avoid infection of the wound.
Rounding out the list of the most common pet health issues we assist with is a relatively new addition…severe dental work. Serious periodontal disease in dogs, cats, and other pets can lead to life-threatening health conditions. Left untreated, diseased teeth and gums can lead to loss of tissue and bone in the mouth and the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, leading to bone infection and organ damage. Talk to your vet about prevention strategies like home tooth brushing.
Meet Cece, a beautiful Siamese cat who escaped from home a few months back. Cece was struck by a car and suffered a fractured back. The surgery to save her life was more than her family could afford, but they applied for a FACE grant and Cece was able to have her surgery. We’re happy to report she’s doing great now! Check out this VIDEO about Cece and her family on the San Diego Union Tribune website.
Accompanying the video is an ARTICLE about Cece and the work that we do to save pets in need of critical veterinary care in the San Diego area. With the cost of diagnostic services and specialty treatments for unexpected pet illnesses and injuries often running thousands of dollars, FACE provides hope for pet owners faced with the sad reality of economic euthanasia.
Thank you San Diego Union Tribune, for the wonderful profile of Cece and FACE!
Recently FACE received a wonderful thank you letter from a truly special grantee. Meet Kenneth and his service dog Sampson. FACE provides financial assistance for emergency veterinary care to qualified pet owners…and some of these pets happen to be service dogs like Sampson! Ken receives life-saving support from Sampson. Ken has multiple health challenges, and Sampson provides comfort and assistance on many levels. Not only is Sampson a diabetic alert dog, he also helps Ken get around in his motorized wheel chair and provides emotional support too. Ken is hard of hearing and taught Sampson American Sign Language, so Sampson alerts Ken to the phone and doorbell as well.
Meet a few more FACE success stories who also happen to be very special assistance animals like Sampson!
Bella Amia is a registered service dog for her disabled owner. Bella developed a cancerous tumor and the cost of surgery was more than her owner could afford on a fixed income. FACE stepped in to help Bella…thanks to generous pet cancer grant funding from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo.
Pete provides emotional support to a young girl who has cerebral palsy. After he broke his leg, Pete’s owner, a single mom, needed some financial assistance for his surgery. With a FACE grant, Pete was able to get his surgery, much to the relief of his loving family.
Rascull is an emotional support dog for a disabled senior who struggles with some mental health issues. Rascull swallowed something he shouldn’t have and needed surgery his owner couldn’t afford. Knowing how important Rascull was to his mom, his vet called FACE and we were able to provide assistance to save his life.
The FACE Foundation Board recently returned from a strategic planning retreat, hosted by the Best Friends Animal Society at their Sanctuary, which is in beautiful Kanab, Utah. Best Friends operates the largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals in the U.S. Best Friends was founded thirty years ago by a small group of dedicated animal advocates who united together in the mission to save abused and abandoned companion animals, and end the euthanasia of these animals in our nation’s shelters. They serve as a testament to what can be accomplished when people work together for a greater cause, and are a great inspiration to the members of the FACE team.
This strategic planning retreat was completely underwritten by the Board so no FACE funds were used. These sessions are generally held every 3-5 years, so there are always plenty of important topics to discuss. They revisited FACE’s mission and vision, and friends of FACE can expect to see a fine-tuning of our vision statement soon. The Board also discussed a revamping of our marketing and fundraising strategies.
Other exciting news to come out of the strategic planning retreat? We plan to revisit our granting process to put more trust in our valued veterinary partners when it comes to determining how FACE grants will be distributed to pet owners facing financial hardship due to emergency and critical care veterinary services.
We also are very interested in finding ways to help cases that might not be “immediately life-threatening” but the animals’ quality of life would be drastically and negatively impacted without veterinary care. This would potentially broaden our criteria for determining what kinds of cases we can help…with the ultimate goal of saving more lives! At FACE, we remain united in the belief that no beloved family pet should be euthanized because of lack of funds to pay for critical veterinary care. Thanks to all of our friends and supporters, we are working hard to make this goal a reality.