Darwin Animal Doctors



Late one evening, after the Belize clinic was shut and the team were home, Dr Jochem received a call on his phone – “There is an emergency at the clinic!” right as Michelle received a similar message on her phone “Emergency in the clinic – come quick!” The two headed straight over, and were at the clinic within minutes. They were met there by the clinic technician, and a very concerned woman waiting in a taxi with a large Boevier.

“He can’t walk. I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden he just can’t walk”.

As Dr Jochem unlocked the clinic and set up the examination room, Michelle and the owner supported Henrik’s weight as the weak and confused dog tried to walk his way into the clinic. As soon as he entered the examination room, he collapsed.

Dr Jochem quickly began assessing  Henrik as he asked about what had happened. The concerned owner told the Doctor that Henrik had not wanted to eat or drink water throughout the day, but that otherwise he had seemed completely normal. At 5pm, when he normally goes for a walk, Henrik waited at the door – ready for his afternoon beach stroll. His owner had taken him for a very short walk, but upon his return home, Henrik became very weak and collapsed. A little later he started to have spasms; what the owner described as something like an epileptic fit. Dr Jochem suspected a poisoning and started administering IV fluids and activated charcoal.

Poor Henrik kept trying to get up but continued to lose balance and stumble, falling back down again. He swayed his head in strange patterns and his eyes continued to dart about. He was definitely not in a good way.

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The Doctor continued his assessment, noticing that Henrik had a rapid heart and breathing rate and his pupils were dilating nonsensically. All the signs pointed to a poisoning – but Henrik’s owner was adamant that he had not eaten anything abnormal. The family didn’t use fertilizers, all cleaners are kept in cupboards high off the ground, no foods are ever left out and Henrik does not leave the house unless on a leash.

Something did not add up.

And then Henrik started to do something strange. As he tried to get up, he began to walk in circles to the right. As Dr Jochem and the owner were running over everything that had occurred up until his first spasm, Henrik turned in these circles about three times. And that gave Dr Jochem had an idea. As he checked Henrik’s ears, the Doctor asked the owner if Henrik has a history of ear infections. As he received the confirmatory “yes”, he also saw the likely culprit – the right ear was infected.

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It is rare, but every so often an inner ear infection can be bad enough that it can cause neurological symptoms such as Henrik’s. Dr Jochem cleaned the ear and gave Henrik some medicated ear drops. He made sure Henrik had some more fluids and a general antibiotic as well, and sent the owner home with ear medication and clear instructions to call if anything got worse. Henrik was to return to the clinic in two days, so the Doctor could check his progress.

A few days later, a happy Boevier walked into the clinic and greeted Dr Jochem with a smile. Henrik’s ear infection was clearing up nicely and his neurological symptoms had all subsided. Henrik was back to normal. An interesting and rare case, Henrik has since returned a few times to the clinic to greet Dr Jochem, now one of his favourite patients.

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