Darwin Animal Doctors


Archive: Nov 2016

  1. Kira and her customized cast

    Kira is a four month old puppy who came into the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic after being hit by a car. The accident had resulted in damage to Kira’s left hind leg with significant swelling on the lower part of the leg, halfway down the tibia. The Doctors were not able to feel for a broken bone as the level of swelling to Kira’s leg made such an examination impossible. The team requested that the family take the pup to the local human x-ray clinic (the only x-ray available on the island) in order to get accurate imagery of her leg. Unfortunately, as the x-ray is not free, the family was not able to do this. The Doctors were faced with a very difficult, but not so unfamiliar situation… They would not have the usual diagnostic tools required to treat such a patient, and would have to do the best they could do with the limited information available to them. So, the team developed a plan. They wrapped and bandaged Kira’s leg, gave the pup pain killers and sent her home with her family with clear instructions to come back five days later, once the swelling had reduced. They also had to ensure that Kira was not active during this intermediary time.

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    Kira and her family returned to the clinic as requested, five days later. Her swelling had reduced enough by this stage that the Doctors were able to feel what they suspected to be a fracture in the damaged tibia. So the team knew that Kira would need her leg to be completely immobilized. Kira was sedated and the Doctors carefully build her a customized cast. The four month old pup will have to come back every week for a recheck, and remain in a cast for the next six weeks. The Doctors believe her outlook to be very positive, so check back in with us to see how she’s going!

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  2. Afrika’s Story

    Afrika is an 8 month old Pitbull who had severely irritated skin with a significant amount of hair loss over her face and much of her body. Her owners were worried about the poor pup and took her to a vet on the island who applied a treatment to her skin. Unfortunately, this treatment gave Afrika an allergic reaction and her condition worsened, with the skin on her face and body swelling and becoming very red. Afrika was scratching and chewing at the irritation and itchiness caused by the skin issue, which only worsened her condition further. The family was unsure what to do for their beloved dog and sought help from another vet. This second vet gave Afrika an injection just below the skin and told the family that they could only wait.

    But Afrika did not improve.

    The poor pup continued to scratch away, extremely irritated by her red inflamed skin. Afrika then developed a terrible infection in her skin and skin lesions and she became quite ill. Unfortunately for Afrika, the second vet saw no options for her improvement and advised the family to euthanize her.

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    While every else seemed to give up, the family would not. They took Afrika to the Darwin Animal Doctors, searching for any other possible options for treatment. The Doctors quickly saw how dire the condition of Afrika was and tested her skin to be sure of any diagnosis. The Doctors discovered Demodex, in all stages of life – the poor pup was terribly infected by it! Demodex is an infestation of a dog’s skin with tiny mites which live in the hair follicle and oil glands of the skin. Almost all dogs have some number of the mites, but most dogs are healthy enough to be able to “fight” the mites and keep their levels down. For some dogs who are weaker, or have environmental or nutritional stresses impact their health, however, the mites become too overpowering and start to cause a lot of damage; like skin lesions, hair loss, and excessive itchiness.

    With their diagnosis, the Doctors gave Afrika the appropriate treatment. They also gave her an E-collar (a plastic cone around her neck) to stop her itching and damaging herself any further while her skin was improving.

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    One week later, Afrika came back to the clinic for a recheck. She already looked significantly better and was much happier, evidently not nearly as irritated by her skin. Afrika will come back for regular checkups, but her rapid improvement says that she will heal just fine and will not have to be put down! What a relief for Afrika and her family! And another success for the Darwin Animal Doctors!

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  3. Necropsy of a Sea Turtle

    Darwin Animal Doctors aims to work together with a community in order to support and develop perceptions of animal welfare, and education of that community. This is done with the intention to eventually be able to pass the clinic, the education programs and the community development over to the community itself. Down in the Galapagos, the clinic has been taking leaps and bounds forward in its work alongside the community.

    Recently, the National Park requested for Carmen, the Darwin Animal Doctors head vet in the Galapagos, and for the Darwin Animal Doctors team to assist the National Park vet in a necropsy of a deceased Sea Turtle. A strong demonstration of team work, the two head vets worked side by side during the procedure. After full measurements and analysis of the turtle as a whole were completed, the team began their investigation. They were able to discover a wealth of knowledge about Sea Turtles first hand, with in depth analysis of the breastplate, cardiovascular system, digestive system, respiratory system, flippers, spine and more.

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    While very sad for the Galapagos to have lost another Sea Turtle, the necropsy was an incredible experience for the Darwin Animal Doctors, who were able to gain knowledge that could save many lives in the future.

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  4. Conny

    Conny was brought into the Darwin Animal Doctors Galapagos clinic after she had supposedly just collapsed. The 5 month old puppy was very unwell. She was exceptionally underweight, had diarrhea, was very dehydrated, covered in fleas and appeared to have severe anemia. The Doctors ran a blood test and discovered that she was indeed extremely anemic. She was in desperate need of help, and the Doctors knew that the only way to save Conny was to do a blood transfusion. The team turned to Yara, a very loved dog of Rene (one of the organization’s members) who has found herself being a volunteer for blood transfusions more than once in her life…

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    The Doctors prepared the ever compliant Yara, and collected enough blood so that Conny could receive a healthy and life-saving donation. After the blood transfusion, Conny also was treated with antibiotics and a deparasite treatment. Thanks to the treatment, little Conny began to improve quite rapidly and was even able to go home that evening. The next days will still be critical for her, and so she will return to the Doctors for continuing care over the coming weeks.

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    A big thank you to Yara for donating blood this time, and every other time that she has been called on! What a hero!

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  5. Tick infestation!

    This six month old dog came into the Galapagos Clinic for a regular sterilization appointment. However, on arrival, the Doctors very quickly saw that Blacky had an exceptionally bad tick infestation. The problem was so bad that while Blacky had a wonderful demeanor, he had to be sedated in order to remove all the excessive number of ticks! And so the team cleaned Blacky from ears to tail; removing ticks from every inch of his body. Non-surprisingly, he also tested positive for Ehrliclia; a common tick borne disease on the Islands. Blacky had to be sent home with antibiotics, a future appointment for sterilization and strict instructions on tick removal!

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    Unfortunately, Blacky did not return for his appointment, but returned a few weeks later… once again infested with ticks! As it turns out, Blacky’s owner works on a tourist boat and often goes away for weeks at a time. He leaves Blacky with a friend in the highlands where the young dog runs free and manages to get himself covered with ticks again. Luckily, Blacky’s owner cares a lot about him and, as soon as he returned and saw the state of the pup, he brought him straight back to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic. The Doctors set to and, once again, removed all ticks from Blacky. They also gave Blacky a tablet that kills ticks and fleas rapidly and, as further prevention, gave him a long acting tick collar. The owner was sent home with a tick hook in order to remove any remaining (or new) ticks and, once again, a future appointment for castration.

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    A week later, Blacky returned for his appointment – with almost no ticks! The Doctors were very happy to see Black in such good condition! Blacky was successfully castrated and is now a happy and healthy, tick-free dog!

    Remember to check your dog regularly for ticks and carefully remove them when found. Ticks especially tend to favour in between the toes and inside the ears, so don’t forget to check there!

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  6. Parvo Outbreak

    Parvo virus is a highly contagious viral disease that is, unfortunately, very present in the Galapagos Islands. The virus is life threatening, typically affecting a dog’s digestional tract, and in some strains, also cardiac muscle. The virus causes loss of appetite and severe vomiting and diarrhea which, in turn, leads to extreme dehydration and lethargy/weakness. The virus is spread through fecal matter and most commonly effects puppies, but can also affect adult dogs. Due to vaccination programs, this disease is quite well controlled in other areas of the world. However, as vaccinations are not yet legal in the Galapagos, and as dogs still freely roam the streets (coming in contact with fecal matter from other dogs), the virus can (and does) spread like wildfire.

    Recently, the Galapagos clinic faced another outbreak of Parvo, and the Doctors were brought literally boxes of affected puppies. With a high demand of care for each individual case, the Doctors knew they were in for some long weeks. For the best chance of survival, each affected dog must be treated on strict 12 hourly appointments with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Each dog has his own 12 hourly schedule, requiring the team to come into the clinic to treat patients around the clock. With such a high number of cases, the Doctors were desperately trying to keep up with the demand of IV fluids and medication. Running between every pharmacy on the Island, the team bought up everything in stock, and then carefully distributed the medication to ensure each and every animal could be treated. Back in the clinic, the Doctors were on high alert, disinfecting the work area after every patient seen in order to ensure that the spread of the virus would not come from the clinic itself.

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    After weeks of long hours and hard work, it seemed that the outbreak was over. And with an incredible result; all of these lucky puppies survived this Parvo outbreak! A massive thank you to the whole team for such commitment to lead to such a wonderful result!!!

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  7. Solomon

    Solomon was brought into the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic in a terrible state. The owners had found him on the weekend, hiding underneath the couch, covered in wounds. They suspected that he had been involved in a dog fight, however, due to degree of damage done to his entire body, the Doctors believed that he was likely hit by a car.

    Unfortunately, the poor pup had previously received very inadequate care. He was badly stitched up and sprayed with a type of silver spray, meant to kill bacteria. He was given incorrect and ineffective antibiotics and was not given an E-collar (the plastic cones for around the head) and so was scratching and licking his wounds, worsening his infections. By the time that he was brought into the Darwin Animal Doctors, Solomon had suffered an extensive amount of tissue death, and was extremely unwell.

    The team had their work cut out for them. Solomon would require a complete reconstructive surgery, with two veterinarians required to work simultaneously on the dog in order to get the massive amount of work done in a safe amount of time. Coming in at the end of a long morning, the surgery would also have to be done during the hottest time of day and during the team’s only break. Two volunteer veterinarians, Eva and Tracy, after spending an hour shaving and preparing Solomon’s wounds for surgery, were not swayed by the challenge ahead and readily offered to undertake the job.

    The two veterinarians begun the difficult task, with Carmen on hand, ready to jump in if required. They removed a large amount of dead tissue and cleaned the massive areas of wounds covering Solomon’s face and hind legs. The skilled veterinarians loosened skin on the side of Solomon’s face in order to cover the massive wound covering the right side of his jaw. As there is not a large amount of excess skin on the legs, there was no option to do the same there. The veterinarians worked under the pressure of time as Solomon’s temperature began to drop due to the length of the surgery. Cutting away a large amount of dead tissue and stitching together what was possible, the veterinarians worked for three hours, keeping Solomon at a stable temperature. At the end of the surgery, the team dressed his wounds and rewarmed the dog to a regular body temperature. As the wounds were too extensive and severe to be able to close them fully, Solomon needed to be in bandages for the next few weeks, returning daily for a bandage change and antibiotics. Solomon would have a long road to recovery.


    The owners reliably brought Solomon back into the clinic every day, as the veterinarians gave him close attention. The first bandage change was terrible, so smelly from all the exude, but they seemed to be improving. However, late Sunday night the vets were called back into the clinic as Solomon’s condition had declined significantly. He had a fever, wasn’t eating and was depressed. His wounds didn’t look too bad, but the infection had clearly spread to his blood – called a sepsis. The team gave him a third type of antibiotics (he was on two already), medical treatment for the fever, and told the owners to come back the next morning.

    The owners did, dutifully come back in the morning. But without Solomon. He had died during the night.

    The veterinarians and the owners had done everything possible to save Solomon. However, proper care in the initial stages of any necessary treatment is essential, and unfortunately this is something Solomon did not receive.

    Please, take this as a warning; Always seek high quality care for your pets from the moment something is wrong. These stages are the most important in being able to best treat your animal.


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