If your pet was hit by a car, this is considered a “RED” – a true emergency – on our Fast Track Triage chart. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!
- Administer basic first aid. If there is bleeding or an open wound, cover it with a clean cloth or bandage.
- Use caution when transporting your pet. Animals in pain may bite, even if they are normally very gentle.
Mid-summer and Milo, a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was looking forward to a trip with his family up to the cabin. He couldn’t wait but before he could leave, he had to visit his favorite mailbox real quick!
Unfortunately, this decision would put a crashing end to the family’s summer plans. As Milo’s Mom tossed her bag in the car, she glimpsed Milo barreling into the street, and a truck cruising down the road towards her dog.
In the next second, the truck hit Milo and rolled over his rear legs. Milo’s family rushed into action and drove him to the nearest emergency veterinary facility.
The code “Hit By Car” (HBC) is one with which every veterinary medicine professional is all too familiar. Injuries from this trauma can vary greatly both in type and severity. For Milo, the severity of his injuries and the outcome of his ill-timed trip to the mailbox were looking grim.
Milo was bleeding badly and breathing heavily. The first veterinary emergency hospital he went to treated him for shock and took x-rays. After assessing the extent of Milo’s injuries, the facility decided Milo needed more intensive care than what they could provide, so they referred Milo and his family to us at Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota.
On July 22nd, Milo arrived at our Oakdale ER. Thanks to the treatments he received at the first ER, he appeared to be more comfortable and stable upon his arrival. But we soon discovered that Milo’s injuries were more extensive than previously thought. Milo’s injuries included the following:
- Multiple fractures in his pelvis, right tarsus (heel), and right metatarsal bones (the bones just above the paw)
- Tendon injuries in his left and right tarsus leading to instability in both hocks
- Dislocated left hip
- Crushed toe on the left rear paw
- Severe soft tissue injuries to his left back leg and right groin region
- A loud heart murmur (unknown at the time if this was pre-existing or related to his injuries)
Making Difficult Decisions
After examining Milo’s case, Dr. Anderson, one of our board-certified veterinary surgeons, presented Milo’s family with three options:
Milo’s injuries were reparable – but the severity and complexity of the injuries meant that the road ahead would be long and costly.
To remove the worst of the damage, Milo’s left back leg could be amputated.
Given the severity of Milo’s wounds and his grave condition, euthanasia was also a medically reasonable choice.
After being educated on each option and weighing the decision, Milo’s humans chose to proceed with surgery in an attempt to restore their happy little dog to his best quality of life. With all recommendations approved and the decision finalized, our team set out to work a miracle for Milo.
Milo’s loud heart murmur made a pre-surgical consultation with our Cardiology Service a must. They needed to determine if it would even be safe for Milo to go under anesthesia. He saw Dr. Rose, one of our board-certified cardiologists, for an echocardiogram and assessment of heart function. On top of everything, poor Milo was diagnosed with Stage B1 Chronic Degenerative Valve Disease – not uncommon in Cavaliers. Fortunately, there was some good news though – the condition was not severe enough to require medication or treatment. Dr. Rose approved Milo for anesthesia & surgery!
Next, Milo had a CT scan done by our Radiology Service, in conjunction with Surgery and Critical Care, to better assess his orthopedic injuries and look for signs of internal injuries.
On July 25th, Dr. Anderson performed surgery to repair Milo’s dislocated hip, stabilize his left tarsus, and amputate the crushed toe. His right rear leg was splinted to stabilize the metatarsal fractures. His skin wounds were addressed and bandaged – the wounds were too extensive to be sutured, but Milo’s family understood the process of bandage changes and evaluations that were in their future as the wounds healed on their own.
Not Out of the Woods Yet
Surgery was only one hurdle for Milo to get through. Although surgery went well, Milo’s red blood cell count dropped steadily afterwards. The decline was not unexpected in a small dog who had undergone so much trauma and blood loss, but it required that Milo receive a blood transfusion the next day.
Milo recovered better than anyone had dared to hope! This sweet boy’s resilience and will to fight were amazing to witness. He battled through some up-and-down days post-surgery, but he always steadily improved. His care team fell in love with him as they got to know him through his intensive nursing care needs: a urinary catheter, wound drains, splint management, and daily bandage changes. Milo worked hard to walk again and within days, he was able to get around for short distances with the assistance of two helpers. He was all set to go home on July 29th, but his humans opted to keep him at AERC for additional nursing care.
Video of Milo’s family visiting him in-hospital.
Finally, on August 15th, Milo was ready to go home! He went home with splints on both legs. When he was discharged, our entire team was cheering as he left the treatment area. Every single one of our team members was so proud to see Milo reach this monumental step in his recovery.
Milo is now walking well on his own, if a little wobbly. His wounds are nearly healed, but his recovery continues. He’s still visiting AERC for bandage changes and progress checks.
Throughout Milo’s journey, his family has kept their community of support updated via social media. He continues to have many people, both within and outside AERC, rooting for him. Milo’s family is thrilled to have him back home, and we have enjoyed keeping in touch with them. They have been so kind to share photos and videos of Milo with us so we can continue being part of his cheer squad.
At AERC, Milo will forever be “The Miracle Dog” – and this sweet pup will always have a second family here that loves him.
Our “Fur-tunately: Stories of Animal Survival” series features real pets treated by our team at Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota. All images and information have been shared with the owner’s permission.
Case content provided by Kathy Rausch, DVM.