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Dog that ‘Felt Like Bubble Wrap’ Fights for Every Breath

Mon 18th Jun 2018

Our clinic in Blantyre, rural Malawi sees a range of cases desperately needing veterinary treatment every week. Mosho was just one of our recent patients. Dr Dagmar Mayer, our Africa Veterinary Manager, shares her story…  

Mosho was brought in last week after she was attacked by a large dog two days earlier. She had stopped eating and was not behaving as her usual self at all, despite a lack of external wounds. Worryingly, she also seemed to be getting bigger from hour to hour! 

Even though Mosho only weighed 5kg she appeared to be much bigger and felt 'like bubble wrap' because she suffered from a massive subcutaneous emphysema, which develops after a chest trauma when air gets trapped underneath the skin as it escapes from the lungs or neck. The vets couldn't find any wounds on her besides some bruising on her neck, but her condition meant that her internal airways were damaged by the dog fight. At first, we were hoping that the leak would close by itself but Mosho just got bigger and bigger and it was obvious that air was escaping with every breath she took.

We opted for surgery and detected a large tear in the trachea (windpipe), half way between her larynx and the inlet to the thorax. It was a tricky surgery but our vet managed to repair the tear and drain a lot of the air from underneath her skin. The pressure of the air under her skin was very uncomfortable for Mosho, so it was imperative that the pressure was relieved as much as possible.  

Just 24 hours after the surgery, Mosho was in a much better condition. She started eating, wagged her tail again and was able to be released back home a few days later. 

She came for a check-up to the clinic a week later and our vets were pleased with Mosho’s initial progress. There was still a little air under her skin but it was no longer building up and she seemed to be improving with each day. Mosho will make a full recovery, thanks to the expert skills of our vets and the quick treatment she received at the clinic!  

If you would like to help our teams save more dogs just like Mosho and respond quickly to whatever injuries they are faced with, please donate today. Your support could mean the difference between life and death for a dog like Mosho.