Darwin Animal Doctors


Archive: Jan 2017

  1. Rainy

    This gorgeous puppy is only four months old, and has already had a hard run of life. At such a young age, little Rainy had bladder stones – something normally only older adult dogs get. The Doctor had to conduct a surgery on the little pup in order to remove the stones and investigate the cause. During the surgery, they discovered that Rainy’s bladder was in very bad condition. Unable to do much to the bladder, the Doctor removed the stones and reconstructed the urethra, basically forming another hole from which the pup could pee. The surgery was a complicated one, and the results would be uncertain for the coming days. For that reason, it was necessary for Rainy to stay in the clinic for a while to remain under observation.

    For the next week this little bundle of joy ran around the clinic, as if he did not care whatsoever about the fact that he was previously very ill. His tale was always wagging as the playful pup would attack passing pant legs, lick at people’s ankles and sniff and investigate every corner of the clinic. Rainy made everyone smile with his happy, care-free nature, and playful attitude.


    At the end of the week, one of the clinic workers came to the Doctors and reported that Rainy had started to have some red in his urine. Everyone was worried for the poor little pup. The Doctors sedated Rainy and passed a catheter to ensure that there were no new stones and to help stop the risk of infection. Thankfully, the catheter went in successfully, and it seemed there were no complications.


    A few days later the Doctors were able to remove the catheter and Rainy was able to go home. This little pup narrowly escaped death – with a smile on his face, and somehow filled with happy enthusiasm the entire time. While not totally in the clear, Rainy is improving rapidly and will continue returning to the clinic for check ups.


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  2. Pedro, a three-legged super hero

    Pedro was no match for an oncoming car… and the impact resulted in the poor cat being left with a broken tibia and fibula. Unfortunately, the breaks were terribly bad and would not be able to heal. The Doctors were left with no option but to remove the painful hind leg.

    While the surgery itself would be a difficult one, what may have been even more difficult was to deliver the news to the family. As Carmen talked with the owners, the father understood her reasoning and agreed to the amputation, however, his two young daughters were having a very hard time accepting it. Dr Carmen appreciated how tough this was for the girls to deal with and sat with them for a while  to help them understand. She explained how Pedro was in a lot of pain now, and why the Doctors cannot cast the leg. She told the girls about how special it is to have a cat with three legs, and how other animals have had this surgery and have lived to be very happy, healthy pets.

    Dr Carmen then went and collected a copy of “A Piggy’s Tale”, a comic used in our humane education curriculum about a three-legged super hero dog which is based on a true story. Dr Carmen sat with the girls and read the comic with them, showing them that there are other three legged animals out there that are doing very well. After shedding a few tears, the girls went home, taking Piggy’s story with them.

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    The family returned the next day and agreed to the surgery, the girls much happier, with a better understanding. The Doctors went ahead with the amputation, with Dr Majella assisting Dr Giacomo . The surgery was a great success, with no complications.

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    Pedro woke up a little confused and stayed in the clinic a few days so that the Doctors could monitor him closely. He recovered very quickly, and by the day after the surgery was already walking around and seeking attention from the team of Doctors. He was extremely affectionate, cuddling up to all of the volunteers, who instantly fell in love with the sweet cat. Even the neighbor who saw Pedro running around on his three legs, fell for him, and came to visit the cat every day. Pedro went home with his family a few days later, a true three legged hero.

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  3. Malandrin: A dog in need of fluids

    One afternoon in the Galapagos clinic, a young dog named Malandrin was carried in by his owner, barely responsive and lethargically hanging in his owner’s arms.

    The Doctors immediately came to the aid of the four month old pup. After a quick examination and a few questions from the owner, they determined that Malandrin had been vomiting for three straight days and had terrible diarrhea. Coupled with the extreme heat of the Galapagos Islands, it was clear that Maladrin was severely dehydrated. As for the cause of the symptoms, the Doctors suspected that Maladrin was infected with Parvo virus.

    Parvo is a life threatening virus which typically affects a dog’s digestive tract causing loss of appetite and severe vomiting and diarrhea. In these conditions, a dog can lose so much nutrition and water through vomiting and diarrhea that even two days without treatment can result in the death of the dog.

    Maladrin was clearly badly affected and would have to follow an intensive treatment plan; He would come into the clinic every morning and every evening for intravenous (IV) fluids, as well as antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and glucoses. The treatment plan is labour intensive, as a veterinarian must be available in the clinic every 12 hours to spend the time required to slowly deliver enough fluids to the patient.

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    Malandrin was a very thankful patient, as if he knew exactly what was being done for him.  Twice a day, he gently lay on the table and surrendered himself to the Doctors’ care – and within a few days the progress was already becoming clear. Malandrin changed from a lethargic and dehydrated dog into a playful and healthy puppy. The improvement was fantastic, and the Doctors were able to change Maladrin over to oral antibiotics once he was well on his way to recovery.


    In countries in which regular and routine veterinary care is standard, a dog would be vaccinated at six, nine, and twelve weeks after birth and yearly for Parvo, Distemper, and Leptospirosis viruses.  Unfortunately, vaccinations are prohibited in Galapagos because the vaccine itself is a disease and Galapagos authorities do not permit bringing any diseases to the island. As a result, in the Galapagos, dog and cat owners and the veterinarians that attend them must be especially attentive to diarrhea and changes in the animal’s drinking and food consumption.  Early detection and treatment can reduce the severity of the disease and significantly improve the animal’s chance of survival.

    Lucky for Maladrin, and many other dogs in his situation, the Darwin Animal Doctors are there for when this terrible virus strikes.

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  4. Moucho’s skin condition

    Moucho is a four year old male cat who has been a regular in the Galapagos Clinic due to his skin issues. It has not yet been possible to diagnose Moucho with any certain disease, but the Doctors believe it to have an auto-immune component. He has been receiving immune-suppressive medication over the past months which has been keeping the issue under control. Recently, however, poor Moucho had another flare up and the owner waited a very long time to come into the clinic for treatment.

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    By the time Moucho came into the Darwin Animal Doctors Galapagos clinic, he had big, crusty, infected wounds on his face. The wounds were bad enough that Moucho had to be sedated in order for Dr Majella to be able to clean them properly. After the cleaning process, Moucho received antibiotic treatment for the secondary bacterial infection, and an anti-fungal treatment, just in case. Moucho was also fitted with an e-collar to stop him scratching away at the wounds.

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    Moucho will return in a few weeks for another check up, but had left the clinic looking much better, albeit with the “cone of shame”…

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  5. Charo’s Friday Night C-Section

    On a Friday night, after a long hard week, the Darwin Animal Doctors closed the clinic and sat down to share dinner together. However, unlike many of us, veterinarians cannot just decide when a work day, or week is done.

    As soon as the team had finished their meal, and looked to heading home, there was a knock at the clinic gate. A family stood at the clinic entrance, holding a pug, saying that their dog needed help. The pug was in labor, but had something called “dystocia” or “obstructed labor”. An emergency situation, the Doctors were straight back to work.

    As the Doctors inspected Charo, they could feel a puppy in her birth canal, and her cervix was open. However, the little pug was not pushing. As it was still theoretically possible for the puppy to come out, and Charo to give birth normally, the Doctors gave Charo an injection of oxytocin to make her push. Then, they had to wait.

    Forty-five minutes later, Charo had still not given birth.

    The Doctors knew that there was now no choice but to give Charo a C-section. The surgery was a difficult one, and would take all five members of the team. Dr Carmen and Dr Majella teamed up to conduct the surgery, with Dr Giacomo managing the anesthetics and Annemette and Karina taking care of the puppies. As the team worked steadily, there was a frightful moment as Charo’s heart slowed, putting her in a very vulnerable state. Thankfully, Dr Giacomo calmly and carefully responded, and returned Charo’s heart beat to a normal rate, saving her life.

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    Charo ended up giving birth to three healthy puppies, and Mumma and bubs were all able to go home with the anxiously waiting family.

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    Finally, at midnight, the Doctors were able to call it a week and go home themselves.

    Thank you to the dedicated team down in the Galapagos clinic who will always go above and beyond in order to care for an animal – even in the middle of the night.


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  6. Surgery Day Number 1.

    Thursday marked the first day of spay/neuter surgeries and Dr Jochem’s second day in the Belize Clinic. The morning ran perfectly, with multiple spay and neuter surgeries conducted without issue. That is, of course, apart from a pair of forceps breaking mid surgery and the discovery that we may need some new surgery kits in the clinic…


    After a quick break for lunch, we returned to the clinic for the afternoon surgeries. And it was then that the day became very interesting…

    The second spay surgery of the afternoon was a very strange case. Diabla, a beautiful Pitbull, had two mysterious masses on the right and left side of her abdominal cavity. With further inspection, the Doctor realised that the pup had an abnormally large spleen which ran almost the whole back half of her abdominal cavity on the left side. But the question still remained, what was the mass on her right side? With further inspection, this was also determined to be spleen. And as the inspection continued, there was more spleen to be found to the back of her abdominal cavity, towards the spine…

    To put this in perspective, a spleen in a dog this size is normally around the size of an adult hand. Diabla’s was approximately six times that size.

    Not only an extremely rare case, this fact changed the surgery from a regular spay surgery, to a very risky one. As the spleen is such a delicate organ, any tiny scrape puts the dog in a life threatening situation, where she may bleed to death. Coupled with tick fever, which basically every dog on the island has, Diabla’s risk of a bleed out was extremely high.

    Dr Jochem had an extremely difficult and dangerous task. Somewhere in that spleen filled abdomen were the ovaries, which needed to be found and removed for this dog to be spayed. The Doctor was not able to insert any surgical tools into the abdominal cavity at the risk of damaging the mass of spleen and having the dog bleed to death. What complicated the surgery even further, was that the owner was not 100% sure if it was Diabla, or his other dog who was not spayed. As tattooing or marking of any kind to indicate that a dog is spayed is not yet standard on the island, it is hard to tell for certain who is and isn’t spayed. As Diabla had no surgical scar, it seemed most likely that she was the dog who was not spayed… but of course, we cannot be certain.


    So now, Dr Jochem had to search for a potentially already removed reproductive system, in an abdomen filled with dangerously sensitive spleen… With limited time, due to the dangers of a dog being anesthetised for too long, the pressure was on. The Doctor calmly and carefully conducted the search, with extreme care and precision. At the point when he was about to have to call the end of the surgery, he found what he was looking for. Dr Jochem was able to complete the spay surgery, with absolutely no complications.


    Diabla was closed up and given treatment for tick fever, and will now be able to live a happy, healthy life. As for Dr Jochem, there was no time to rest, as he was onto the next surgery.

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  7. Princessa’s Car Troubles

    One afternoon, a young boy was sitting in his house when he heard a car hit the brakes on the street just outside, screeching to a stop. Unsure what had happened, he rushed outside to see what the commotion was. As the boy looked, he saw a poor little pup lying in the middle of the road, clearly injured.

    The boy thought quickly and scooped the pup up, running to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic with her in his arms. As he arrived, the Doctors quickly took the dog inside and examined her closely. Luckily, the boy brought the little pup to the clinic so quickly, that she was not yet in shock and was stable. However, the car accident had not been without its damage. She was left with a broken hind leg; a broken tibia and a fractured fibia. The end of her tail was also broken in the collision. It was clearly a very painful event for the poor pup.

    The Doctors believed that the fracture would be able to heal, given the right amount of rest and time to repair. So the team sedated the pup and built her a special cast so as to immobilize the fracture and give it the necessary time to heal. Unfortunately there was not much the Doctors could do for the pup’s tail, and she may never regain full use of it. She was given strong pain killers in order to make her a little more comfortable and she was ready to go home. The team then looked to the young boy and asked him if he would be able to care for the little dog.

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    The young boy’s answer made the Doctors smile; He named the lucky pup Princessa, and promised to take good care of her. The boy dutifully took Princessa home, to return for her check up in two weeks.

    The Darwin Animal Doctors are well known for reminding people to not let their dogs roam the streets – including walking their dogs on a lead and keeping them in a fenced yard when at home. We might start to sound like broken records, but remember – we don’t do it without good reason. Please be careful, and don’t let your dog wander around streets.

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  8. Wolf’s run in with “home remedies”

    Working in the veterinary profession, you see a wide variety of cases, and an even wider variety of obscure “home remedies” for each case. Unfortunately, more often than not, those “home remedies” are not helpful, and at times are even harmful to the animals. Here is the story of one such experience…

    As regularly occurs in the Galapagos Islands, an owner leaves to the mainland for a period of time, leaving their pet in the care of someone else. In the case of Wolf, his owner left the Galapagos for four months, leaving him in the care of a friend. Wolf’s owner expected him to be well taken care of – how could anyone not look after a beautiful, kind dog like Wolf?

    When the owner returned, however, she was horrified to see the condition her beloved pup was in. Poor Wolf had a severe skin infection and he was covered with parasites. In what was assumed to be a last minute attempt to present as though they were looking after the dog, the temporary carers had used one of these so-called “home remedies” and covered Wolf in floor cleaner. As opposed to treating the infection, Wolf had just been smothered in chemicals… When Wolf’s owner found the poor pup in such a condition she quickly rushed him to the Darwin Animal Doctors.

    The Doctors noticed straight away that the dog smelled terrible, almost like gasoline, and wondered how anyone could think that this could be good for a dog… Dr Carmen gave Wolf a thorough wash straight away, making sure to remove all of the terrible chemicals on his skin. After his bath, the Doctors put Wolf on the proper antibiotics and deparasite treatment in order to clear up his skin problems.

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    Wolf was clearly feeling better already, and made sure to give Carmen a big, grateful kiss before heading home. Wolf and his owner will return in two weeks for a checkup, but left the clinic smiling, feeling much better and knowing Wolf was well on his way to a full recovery.

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    Please, take Wolf’s story as a warning, and always make sure to check any “home remedies” with your local veterinarian. Not all are helpful, and many can be harmful to your pets.

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  9. Luna’s unfortunate fishing adventure

    On a Saturday morning, the Darwin Animal Doctors were called into the clinic for an emergency. Rushing to work, the Doctors were greeted by Luna, a beautiful Pitbull mix who had found herself with a fish hook stuck through her upper lip. A painful and nasty experience for any dog, the Doctors were glad the owner came so quickly to have the situation taken care of. As you can probably imagine, a fish hook cannot just be pulled back through, due to the nasty barb which sticks out the side of the hook at the end.

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    The Doctors had to sedate Luna, and figure out how to remove the hook without giving the pup an unwanted lip piercing! Dr Carmen was able to make a small incision over the hook so as to slowly and carefully remove it without further damaging the poor pup. The procedure was a success, and Luna was given a reversal of the anesthesia and went home happily, once again able to eat and enjoy her day.

    …And the Doctors were able to return to their weekend!

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