tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   10 March, 2013  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
A groomer cuts off a dog's tail  
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date:   10 March, 2013 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

1404. Sunday Mar 2, 2013's interesting cases - the inexperienced dog groomer cuts off a dog's tail

Sunday Mar 2, 2013

To reduce waiting time to less than 5 minutes, I work on Sundays from 9 am to 5pm while Dr Daniel arrives later. This Sunday, he had returned from Siem Reap at 12 midnight on Saturday, via Ho Chih Min. My wife and I picked him at the Terminal One Airport where Jet Star landed. On Sunday, he suffered 3 bouts of bloody diarrhoea gastroenteritis. I asked him to go home to rest but he shouldered on. Some vets would just take medical leave. It was a busy Sunday and some clients just wanted to consult him and no other vets.

Around 4 pm, a groomer phoned for an "emergency" as she had cut off the tip of a Maltese dog's tail. Apparently, the dog moved suddenly and the tail end was snipped off. Blood shot out and she applied tons of the purple potassium permanganate powder. The bleeding had stopped but the tail was full of purplish granules and discoloured.

"Are you sure that the owner has agreed to veterinary treatment by me?" I asked her a few times. "Some owners want their own vet to treat since you will be paying for the expenses." Groomers who are experienced will not have a proper contract as regards the choice of vets since they are paying. Otherwise, the owner may go to the most expensive vet in Singapore and the bill can come up to $1,000.

One dog owner told me that he had referred a friend to this expensive vet for a puppy vaccination The bill was $400. "Is vaccination of a puppy $400 but the market is around $40?" he asked me. "There may be other examinations e.g. X-rays, blood tests and so the bill is $400," I said. Pet owners talk about the total amount, not the breakdown. This owner said: "Do you know how to prevent your clients from asking for discount?"    

"I usually discuss the costs first," I replied.
"Just put up a notice like this most expensive vet in Singapore," he replied
"What notice?"
"A notice to display prominently at the counter with the words "PLEASE DON'T EMBARRASS YOURSELF BY ASKING FOR DISCOUNTS".
This was something new to me.

As for this groomer's dog tail bleeding, the groomer had said that the dog owner had given permission for the dog to be treated at Toa Payoh Vets. We sedated the dog after cleaning up the wound. The tail was spurting red blood and the coccygeal bone was visible. This tail had to be stitched up with a skin flap after shortening it a bit. 

The groomer left to attend to more outstanding grooming cases but her colleague left her mobile phone in the Surgery. It rang and the dog owner was asking about the location of Toa Payoh Vets. A couple in their late 40s and their pre-teen daughter came.

"I want my dog to be treated at XXX," the wife reiterated the name a few times as I took the couple to the operation room where the dog was sedated and given isoflurane gas. The husband asked a few questions. I told Dr Daniel to cease operations and hand over the dog. There would be much more problems if we persuaded the wife to let us complete the operation. "Give her the details of sedation and treatment given so that her vet would know what was given." I told Dr Daniel. The groomer came and apologised for the cut tail. "The dog moved suddenly while I was clipping," she explained.      

Despite being given the details, the receptionist of the wife's vet still phoned to ask for more info about some other matters. "This dog was being groomed and its tail end was accidentally cut off," I said. "I don't have more info." 

It was 5 pm on a Sunday. It was closing time. But for this inexperienced groomer, I quoted a discounted rate of $250 for anaesthesia, surgery of tail amputation and creating a flap, stitching, antibiotics and pain-killers. This was service charge at cost as my normal fees would be $400 - $500.

I know groomers have a hard time earning a living owing to high rentals and cost of manpower and so this discount applied to groomers only. Grooming a dog usually costs around $50 including transportation and vet fees cost more such that some groomers do not inform the owners when the dog's skin had been snipped during grooming.

I would say that the wife's vet bill would be at $800 (after-office hours Sunday emergencies) and if the wife had chosen the most expensive vet in Singapore, it would be at least $1,500. That is the reality of life. An experienced groomer would have limited the liability of veterinary payment for accidents and provide a list of his or her own vets to treat such cases. For this groomer, I met her the first time and I don't know whether she had encountered such common situations of nicking the skin during grooming or cutting off the tail end before. 

She would be around 30 years of age, a fair lady of medium height. She should have some years of experience although her handling of this case suggested that she had no prior experience in handling grooming injuries to dogs.

The correct way to control tail bleeding with the tail transected showing the tail bone would be to apply a piece of cotton wool and bandage up the tail before seeking vet treatment. The purple potassium permanganate powder is not to be used in profuse tail bleeding as the owner would never accept this staining powder all over the backside of her dog, even if tail bleeding could be controlled. There was no bleeding when the dog arrived but the whole length of the tail was swamped with gritty purple powder and it took some time to wash off this powder and clip the hairs till you see the image above. The tail end was still bleeding and the tail vertebra could be seen. Surgery was necessary in this case. 

I know of one experienced and organised puppy sale and grooming organisation that would mandate a grooming contract listing their approved veterinary practices for which they would pay for treatment. One of his clients took the dog to the most expensive vet in Singapore and he had to pay the v ery high fees as this is what that practice charges. It is sound business management.

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