Darwin Animal Doctors


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  1. Max’s Intoxication

    We met Max when he was brought into the clinic. He was having trouble breathing and his gums were turning blue. When we first examined him he was struggling so much that we were afraid we were going to lose him.

    We spoke with his owners and learned that Max had ingested an organophosphate poison that is common on the island. His owners were desperate to save him so attempted a home treatment they heard about: forcing Max to swallow oil and soap. Unfortunately this treatment is a myth and does not treat the poison. Unknown to the owners, by forcing Max to swallow the oil and soap, he got aspiration pneumonia which is why he was struggling to breathe so much.

    We gave Max the antidote for the poison and treated him with oxygen and antibiotics for his aspiration pneumonia. He responded well to therapy and was up wagging his tail the next day!

    ***If you believe your animal has injested poison, bring them directly to your local veterinarian. Your vet will have an injectable antidote. Home remedies are at times misleading and can cause harm to your animals. Symptoms of intoxication include excessive salivation, difficulty walking, and muscle tremors.***

    This case shows why we show up to the clinic every day: to save sick patients and to provide humane education to the community about when to seek veterinary care so we can keep patients like Max as healthy as possible! Please consider contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors, so we can continue our work.

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  2. Importance of Sterilization

    For years, pet owners have questioned whether to spay or neuter their pets. However, history and research show that there are many pros to having your pets spayed or neutered.

    What is Sterilization?

    “Spaying” is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs of female animals. “Neutering” is the surgical removal of male animal’s testicles. Both surgeries occur while the animals are under anesthesia. The veterinarian may keep your pet under observation for a couple hours to several days, depending on the animal’s age, size, health, and reaction to the anesthesia.

    Why should I sterilize my animals?

    Sterilization has many benefits, including improving the health of your animals, reducing undesirable behaviors, and preventing unwanted animals.

    First and foremost, sterilizing your pet will help them live a longer and healthier life. Spaying and neutering reduces, or can even eliminate, a number of health problems that are difficult and/or expensive to treat. By neutering your male animals, you help prevent testicular cancer and prostate problems. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors in your female animals.

    Sterilization can help change unwanted behavior from your animals. For example, some aggression problems in male animals can be avoided by early neutering. Your male dog will be less likely to roam away from your home, preventing potential accidents from cars or fights with other males. Unneutered dogs and cats will be less likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. They may be less likely to mount other dogs, people, and objects.

    By spaying your female animals, they will no longer go into heat. This will help stop a number of undesirable behavior in both males and female animals. In females, it is common for them to urinate more frequently in attempt to attract males. They often will get blood on your furniture, exhibit nervous behavior, and attract unwanted males to your home. Males are capable of doing almost anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways of to escape from the house, or enter the area where the female is in heat.

    It should be noted that neutering your male dogs does not guarantee to resolve all behavioral problems. There is a correlation between testosterone levels and certain undesirable behaviors, such as aggression. However, the surgery only reduces the amount of testosterone in your dog’s system; it does not eliminate the hormone completely. Further, neutering will not reduce or eliminate learned or habitual behaviors. The impact of the sterilization largely depends on your animal’s individual personality, history, and physiology.

    Finally, the impact of sterilizing your pets goes much further than your home. Spaying and neutering your individual pets helps your community by preventing the birth of unwanted animals. Communities and animal shelters spend millions of dollars to control unwanted dogs. Shelters are overburdened with animals, and some shelters euthanize their dogs after a certain time period to allow for more. Stray dogs and cats can cause issues in your neighborhood by getting into trash, spreading diseases, and displaying potentially aggressive behavior.

    The cost of your pet’s sterilization surgery is a lot less than having to care for a litter. Sterilization also costs much less than the cost of potential treatments from health complications in the future!

    Consider this: One pair of un-sterilized cats, together with their offspring, can result in 420,000 kittens in seven years. One pair of un-sterilized dogs, with their offspring, can result in 4,372 puppies in the same time frame.

    When should I spay/neuter my pets?

    For dogs: Typically, owners sterilize their pups between six to nine months. However, puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they are healthy. Dogs can be sterilized as adults as well, although there may be more risk for post-operative complications in older dogs.

    For cats: It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered. It is advisable to sterilize your cats before they are five months old, but adult cats can also undergo the surgery.

    Consult with your veterinarian about the best time to spay or neuter your pet. Each animal is different and will require a specific treatment plan.  Your veterinarian will be glad to answer any questions you may have about spay or neuter procedures, as well as help you determine the best age at which you should sterilize your dog.

    We hope this makes your decision whether or not to spay or neuter your pets much easier!

    Help us provide free spay and neuter surgeries around the world by contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors.

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  3. Negro’s Nine Lives

    Negro, a young black cat, went missing for 4 days. When he returned home, his owwners were so happy to see him, but immediately worried when noticed that Negro was dragging his front leg. They thought that he might have broken it on his great adventure, so they brought Negro into the clinic for an evaluation.

    Upon examination, we could feel that the bones were not broken but instead Negro’s neurological function to the front leg was severely damaged. This is due to traumatic stretching and tearing of a large bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus that supply the front leg. Luckily, this injury does not require surgery and with rest alone, Negro could regain some, if not all of the function back in his front leg.

    Unfortunately, Negro did not completely avoid surgery. During the exam, we also found a large bulge on his side. The traumatic event that damaged his leg also caused a rip in his body wall so that his intestines were sitting under his skin! Dr. Carmen performed surgery and put the intestines back into his abdomen and sutured the hole closed.

    Negro needed another surgery that night. His jaw was fractured at the very front, called a mandibular symphysis fracture. Dr. Carmen wired the jaw back together to stabilize it for healing.

    The wire will be removed in 6 weeks and then Negro will be ready for adventures again, but from now on he should stay in the house to keep out of trouble! He only has six lives left!

     Consider contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors so we can continue to treat animals such as Negro.

    Read about more stories on our blog!

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  4. Copito’s Fishy Diet

    Copito, a little 6-month old black and white kitten, was brought in to the Galapagos clinic for a fractured femur. On physical exam we found that several other bones were not forming correctly. We asked his owners about his diet, and they told us that he was being fed mainly fish and meat at home. Although a diet of meat and fish is what we typically think of as ideal for a cat, it is lacking nutrients and a balanced diet is necessary for a healthy development.

    Copito was suffering from a disease called nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. This is a disease that cats develop when they are only fed meat or fish without a good calcium source. The resulting nutritional imbalance leads to weak bones which in this case lead to a fracture.

    This case highlights the importance of feeding your pet an appropriate and complete diet and why we advise owners all over the world to feed their pets commercial cat or dog food or consult with a veterinarian about how to balance a home cooked diet. Copito’s owners were not aware of the dangers of only feeding a growing kitten only meat and fish and immediately started little Copito on a diet of cat food.

    Volunteer Natalie with Copito

    Did you enjoy reading about Copito’s Story? Consider contributing to Darwin Animal Doctor’s and check out more of our stories on our blog.  


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  5. Chicken is Better Cooked

    Last Saturday, tiny little Damster decided he was in the mood for some chicken. Upon report by his owner, Damster chased three chicklets and swallowed them one by one. Damster was so quick, his owner was unable to interfere. Damster started feeling the consequences right away. He stopped eating, started vomiting, and felt a lot of pain in his abdomen. His owner rushed him into the clinic.

    With a situation such as Damster’s, the vets first had to check if there was an obstruction. No obstruction was found, although he was in pain. Upon arrival at the clinic, he started to have diarrhea. This meant Damster did not need an operation, but rather treatment.

    A therapy was started, consisting of antibiotics, anti-emetics, and painkillers. Damster gave us one more scare with a hypoglycemic attack, however after his behavior improved daily. Damster started eating, moving around, and even crying out for attention!!! That was the sign we were looking for to send Damster home to his family.

    Hopefully in the future, the owners can keep a better eye on Damster and Damster will think twice before eating strange things (especially alive ones!)

    Please consider making a small donation, so we can continue to treat our furry friends like Damster!

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