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Dog Peritonitis from Rectal Tear
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Dog Peritonitis from Rectal Tear

Sometime in the early morning hours yesterday, our 4 year old dog, Maggie had a horrible accident.  She jumped up on the fence and landed on a 3 foot bamboo plant stake.  It went into her anus and up under her ribcage.  About 10 inches was inside her body with another 3" sticking out her rear.

We didn't discover the injury until about 6:30 a.m. when she woke me up with her heavy panting.  She was already in shock - high fever, white gums, fast thready pulse.  Surgery #1 resulted in removal of the stick, but the vet couldn't get to the rectal tear.  We took Maggie to Gulf Coast Veterinary Interns where they did another surgery.  They were able to repair the slightly-larger-than 1 centimeter hole in the rectum.  Miraculously, there was no other damage, and blood loss and fecal leakage was minimal.

Surgeon #2 said Maggie had a "mild to moderate" case of peritonitis going.  She is in ICU with a drain, IV plasma and ABX, and went outside this morning and urinated.  So far, belly is soft, but of course, proteins are increasing.  Surgeon expects the rectal repair will hold since it was actually a pretty small injury to start with.

Do you know what the survival rate is with peritonitis in dogs?  I know the next couple of days are critical as to whether Maggie will respond or not, but I just can't find any stats on the internet.  Have you ever seen an injury like this in your own practice?  If so, how did you treat it?
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First let me say that I am very sorry about Maggie's tragic accident, and I am very glad that she has survived thus far.

However, I do not have a crystal ball so I really don't know if I can definitively answer your question.  I really think that the only one who could answer that question is Maggie's attending veterinarian.  He or She could monitior blood daily for the best prognosis.  It sounds as if your surgeon/vet is doing every thing right, and Maggie is in good hands.

You probably won't be able to find statistics on the internet or in veterinary journals/texts, etc. because each case must be evaluated individually.  Maggie may actually get worse before she gets better, but unless she goes septic I believe she has a good chance, but it will probably be a long haul.  Your veterinarian can evaluate sepsis issues by blood cultures (with sensitivities for the appropriate antibiotic) and blood work, hydration status, etc.

As for my own practice, I had a very bad case that involved a loser in a dog fight.  This was a bait dog in a dog fighting ring.  A timely subject with the Michael Vick case coming up.  

He was (and is) a very large pit bull, with a loving personality.  He was brought in by a good samaritan.  He had puncture wounds all over his body, a ruptured spleen from a severe bite through the abdomen, one testicle torn off, his nose hanging by a thread, and one eye dangling out of his head with a severed optic nerve.  

He was in the hospital for 2 weeks, needed multiple surgeries, lost the eye, and had 4 blood transfusions.  He had severe peritonitis.  He survived and is still doing great after 3 years.  The good samaritan adopted him.  The only lingering difference besides the loss of an eye is that after I sutured his nose back on, the color of his nose changed from black to white after healing!

Good luck!  Please let me know how she does!
4 Comments
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I know these things can change one moment to the next, but this morning Maggie is still hanging in.  Vitals are all normal, not even a fever.  A little less drainage from the abdomen, and even had a bowel movement.  Still not eating so we're going to bring in some of her regular food today to see if we can't get some interest going.  She even wagged her tail for the doc this morning for the first time.  Doc is still cautionary, but says everything is going in the right direction so far.  Do we dare hope now?
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YES!!!
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Whoo hoooooo!!!  Just got a call from Dr. Hunter, and Maggie ate nearly a full cup of yogurt this morning.  The drainage is under 400 cc and contains only a few bacteria that are all dead or dying.  IF Maggie continues to eat well today, the doc MIGHT consider pulling the drain and sending her home tomorrow.  I'm not holding my breath on that, but just the fact that it's a possibility only 4 days after such a horrific accident is a miracle.  Everyone at Gulf Coast is just in awe that Maggie broke the rule book on an injury of this kind.  

Your post yesterday about that poor little pit bull's injuries and survival really helped keep my attitude on the positive side.  Thank you so much for sharing that.  Where there's life, there's hope.  :-)
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I don't believe it!  Maggie is coming home today!  I know she was in the very best hands available in Houston to get her through the surgery, so now my concern is making sure she has everything possible to continue healing.  I have access to various Chinese groceries here in Houston, so is there anything you might recommend food and herb-wise for a dog healing from such a horrible injury?  Also, I usually put vitamin E gel on my own surgical incisions - will that help on Maggie's staples or should we wait until the staples are out?  I'm just a grinning lunatic this morning.  :-D
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234713_tn?1283530259
Aleda M Cheng, D.V.M., C.V.ABlank
American Animal Hospital
Randolph, NJ
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