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Day in the life of a Vet Tech – Dog Bite!

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Hello everyone, my name is David Grant, aka Lil David. I am a Veterinary Technician and one of the Veterinary Support team here at Goodna Vet that helps care for your pets. You'll usually find me on the front desk taking your calls or assisting with surgeries or procedures behind the scenes. Life as a Vet Tech is fun and challenging at times; however, today, I'd like to tell you about an incident that would be the reason why you haven't seen me around the clinic the last couple of weeks.

About 3 weeks ago, during a routine X-ray, I was bitten on my right elbow by a large breed dog that was under the effects of light anaesthetic sedation. I received 3 deep muscle puncture wounds and was rushed off to the hospital, where I was placed on intravenous antibiotics and received surgery to clean out and stitch up my injuries. Luckily the punctures didn't hit any major nerves or vessels and have completely regained the function of my right arm. The whole team of Goodna Vet have been absolute pillars of strength in my recovery and transition back to work, and I can never thank them enough. Although, they're still not letting me lift anything too heavy, and they've FORCED me to eat a whole bunch of recovery chocolates! I know, how awful!

I bring up this experience because I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about anaesthesia dysphoria as, although rare, it is a phenomenon that we have to deal with in the veterinary industry when administering anaesthetic drugs. Now for any living creature, dysphoria is a feeling of discomfort or unease and often occurs with the administration of certain drug types. Usually, dogs react in an excitatory manner, with increased breathing, vocalisation, and general inconsolable hyperactivity, of which they have no control over nor know what they are doing. Co-administration of other anaesthetics, pain or underlying behavioural issues can factor into the development of dysphoria. In most situations, the dysphoria is short, unremarkable and is resolved with little intervention. However, in very rare cases, high levels of anxiety, distress, or agitation can lead to aggressive behaviour or self-mutilation. The dog that bit me was a dog that I was familiar with and was generally a very happy, friendly animal who had no control over his actions at the time. I want to reiterate; it was not the dog's fault nor mine that this occurred as none of us could have known he would react in such an extreme and incredibly rare way.

This leads me to talk about muzzling. I know muzzling up our canine companions doesn't seem like the most pleasant thing to do for some. However, I hope that we can all understand that muzzling is an important part of animal care with stories like this. As even with friendly animals, unexpected reactions can occur, especially when using anaesthetics. Using a muzzle is a tool we can use to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of ourselves and pets that we treat, who are always our number one priority.

So next time you're down at the clinic, say hi, and if you want to see my gnarly scars, I'll be more than happy to show you!

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