Objective: To describe the presenting problems for paediatric dogs and cats presented to emergency clinics, and to determine what factors influence mortality.
Background: There is a lack of published literature available on canine and feline paediatric emergencies, their survival rates and factors that contribute to mortality. Experience and opinion largely replace evidence-based medicine when treating this subset of the emergency population.
Evidentiary value: Evidentiary value for primary and emergency care practitioners is strong as the data is based on a large primary emergency care database. The paediatric population analysed consisted of 3142 paediatric canine and feline patients.
Methods: A retrospective review of canine and feline emergency admissions to emergency out-of-hours clinics (May 2012-January 2014) was conducted. Data recorded included age, nature of complaint, euthanasia/death during treatment, and survival to discharge. Survival to discharge included all patients who presented to the clinic for examination, received treatment and were subsequently discharged; this includes those patients who were discharged home or to their primary vets care. Patients were divided into four groups: canine patients ≤ 3 months of age and 3-6 months and feline patients ≤ 3 months of age and 3-6 months.
Results: Paediatric patients represented around 3% of the emergency cases identified in the database. Survival to discharge in patients ≤3 months of age was significantly reduced in comparison to patients between 3-6 months of age, in both species. Feline paediatric patients had reduced survival to discharge compared to their canine counterparts.
Conclusion: Paediatric patients have a low survival rate, indiscriminate of species and reason for presentation, with lower survival in younger animals; with a significant difference in survival between canine and feline patients.
Application: The results of this study are important to small animal veterinarians in both emergency and non-emergency practice.