We had been busy that fall afternoon. The temperatures were cooler, but it still wasn’t getting dark until a bit later. People and their pets were out and about and unfortunately encountering challenging circumstances. Some emergency cases call before coming in, but this particular there was no prior warning. What came left us in complete surprise.
The emergency page was sounded over the hospital intercom system and one of our fourth year veterinary students went up to the reception area to begin the evaluation process. She quickly returned with a very shocked look on her face.
“Dr. Rainey! There is a dog up there with some kind of metal around its neck!” She was so flustered by what her eyes had beheld that she could barely speak.
“What is around its neck,” I asked while writing ICU orders for a recently admitted patient.
“I don’t know what to call it, but I think I should bring the dog back here. It’s just too heavy for me to carry on my own,” she replied. Now I was even more curious. The exchange between us had piqued the interest of everyone in the ICU. One of the male students currently helping in the ICU volunteered to retrieve the dog and the mysterious metal object.
A few minutes later a collective gasp could be heard throughout the room when a small, Miniature Pinscher mix named Lucy arrived with a metal tire rim adorning her neck like an out of proportion collar. Apparently the little dog had stuck its head through the tire rim while investigating out in the yard, but was then unable to remove herself. I noticed that her neck was coated in a greasy substance, which I was soon to find out was a combination of butter, olive oil and lotion that the owners had placed in an effort to ease the passage of the dog’s head. The poor little thing was so anxious from the predicament that we had a hard time touching her. We quickly performed an examination the best we could and requested permission from the owners to sedate her for the attempted removal process.
We gave Lucy a short acting sedative into one of the muscles of her back leg and waited as she grew quiet. Then we placed an intravenous catheter and administered another agent to help her relax further. We were all a bit tense and nervous, not knowing if we would be able to slip the tire rim off easily or not. If it would not come off by gently manipulating her head through the opening, we weren’t really sure what the next step would be. Thankfully, once the medication had reached its full effect, we were able to easily slip Lucy’s head backwards through the round hole and liberate her from the tire rim. Her neck appeared fine, with no wounds or swelling, although she was covered in the slippery lubricate her owners had concocted. She recovered over a few hours from her sedation and went home with her family and we all hoped her curiosity was quelled for the time being!
(Dr. Amanda Rainey, DVM, is a clinical assistant professor in the small animal clinical sciences department at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center in Knoxville.)