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Severe blunt trauma in dogs: 235 cases (1997–2003)


  • Partial data presented as a poster at the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium 2006.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Stephen A. Simpson, DVM, Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital, 1371 Reynolds Avenue, Irvine, CA 92614, USA. Email:


Objective – To evaluate population characteristics, injuries, emergency diagnostic testing, and outcome of dogs with blunt trauma requiring intensive care in an urban hospital.

Design – Retrospective study 1997–2003.

Setting – All data obtained from the University of Pennsylvania – Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital.

Animals – Dogs admitted to the intensive care unit for treatment following blunt trauma.

Interventions – None.

Measurements and Main results – Of the 235 dogs that met inclusion criteria, 206 (88%) survived and 29 (12%) did not survive. Blunt vehicular trauma accounted for 91.1% of cases. Mild hyperglycemia and hyperlactatemia was common in both survivors and nonsurvivors. The chest was the most common region traumatized and the prevalence of polytrauma was 72.3%. Initial weight, vital signs, PCV, total plasma protein, BUN, glucose, lactate, acid-base status, and electrolytes did not differ between survivors and nonsurvivors. Nonsurvivors were significantly more likely to have had head trauma (P=0.008), cranium fractures (P<0.001), recumbency at admission (P<0.001), development of hematochezia (P<0.001), clinical suspicion of acute respiratory distress syndrome (P<0.001), disseminated intravascular coagulation (P<0.001), multiorgan dysfunction syndrome (P<0.001), development of pneumonia (P<0.001), positive-pressure ventilation (P<0.001), vasopressor use (P<0.001), and cardiopulmonary arrest (P<0.001).

Conclusions – Outcome of severe blunt trauma in dogs treated with intensive care is very good. Despite the high survival rate, several features associated with poor outcome were identified. Neither admission lactate nor glucose was able to predict outcome.