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Assessment and management of the severely polytraumatized small animal patient


  • Dennis T. (Tim) Crowe Jr. DVM, DACVS, DACVECC, EMT-II, GCFF

    1. From the Veterinary Surgery, Emergency, and Critical Care Consulting, Bogart, GA, the All Pets Emergency and Referral Center, Inc., Alpharetta, GA, the Institute of Critical Care Medicine, Rancho Mirage, CA, the Integrated Health Technologies, Inc., Carson City, NV, Oconee County Fire Department, Station 7, Bogart, GA, the Oconee County First Responder Medical Rescue Unit, Watkinsville, GA.
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to:
Dr. Dennis T. (Tim) Crowe, Jr., DVM, 2435 Clotfelter Road, Bogart, GA 30622.


Objective: To review the current recommendations for the care of the seriously injured polytraumatized small animal patient, including team organization and facility readiness; scene assessment and care; transport; and hospital assessment and care.

Data sources: Original research articles, scientific reviews, book chapters, and clinical experience.

Human data synthesis: The care of the seriously injured patient is demanding and requires adequate preparation, rapid access to organized resources and equipment, and skilled personnel. Second in urgency only to stabilization of the airway and breathing is shock. In many, surgical intervention to provide improved and continued stability is required. Evidence is provided by data published comparing survival for humans with high injury scores being cared for at level I trauma centers compared with small rural hospitals. Personal experience as a member of an emergency medical team in the care of multiple injured human patients in both level I trauma centers and small hospitals is also used in this review.

Veterinary data synthesis: Publications reporting large clinical series of seriously injured dogs and cats are minimal. Experimental animal models of shock caused by blood loss and the study of various organ injuries and their management are numerous. These and 35 years of the author's experience in managing severely injured dogs and cats (estimated to be >750) is also used in this review for generation of guidelines.

Conclusions: Guidelines for care of severe multiple injury patients are presented and are recommended to be used in clinical veterinary medical practice to improve outcome.