In recent months, the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) has seen an increase in cases of pets with matted coats—many of which have necessitated surgical procedures, and in severe cases, amputations. One such case involved Chia, a one-year-old female Shih Tzu who was surrendered to the ASPCA last November.
When ASPCA staff opened Chia’s carrier for the first time, they found that she was encased in a severely matted coat. They were unable to even locate Chia’s ears or neck in order to place a lead around her. In order to help Chia, a licensed veterinary technician at AAH began to shave off her coat. Her matting was so severe—and coated with feces, urine, and foreign debris—that the vet tech was able to remove the majority of the matting in one large, intact piece, which weighed more than one pound.
Beneath the matted coat was a gentle, loving 12-lb. dog. After receiving treatment for some skin issues and undergoing a spay procedure, Chia was adopted and is now a cherished family member.
We’re so glad we got to Chia in time to help. According to ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Julie Horton, matted hair can lead to severe medical problems for pets:
Even very mild hair mats can cause skin irritation and progress to infected lesions. A wound left unattended can accumulate maggots.
Fleas and ticks can live deep in the hair mat—out of the owner’s sight—and infest the animal.
Mats around the hind end can cause an accumulation of feces and in severe cases impede defecation.
More severe hair mats can cause strangulating wounds, most often seen on an animal’s limb. The mat can grow around the leg in a circumferential fashion causing blood supply to be cut off. In severe but reversible cases, the mat cuts into and sometimes through the skin which can be surgically and medically treated over a long period of time typically weeks to months. In severe but irreversible cases, the mat can cut down to the bone and /or become so tight that blood supply is cut off on that limb requiring amputation.
Dr. Horton provides the following tips for preventing your pet’s hair from matting:
In general, mats are extremely uncomfortable for your pet and should be avoided. Owners should be aware of grooming needs based on hair type and breed of the animal. Pets with medium-to-long hair require frequent brushing, some even once daily. Speak with your groomer or veterinarian regarding appropriate brush types for your pet’s hair. Early mild mats can be brushed out. Mats which have progressed require clipping the hair.
If you notice a mat which cannot be easily brushed out, your pet should visit a groomer or veterinarian. They can safely clip the mats out and provide instant relief. If a pet is severely matted he may require sedation and full body clipping.
NEVER cut mats out with scissors. Your pet can unexpectedly move or jerk resulting in a severe laceration or puncture.
Two adult dogs and three puppies are under the care of the ASPCA following cruelty arrests by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in the Bronx. The officers were responding to a call reporting a domestic dispute, and when they arrived at the apartment, they noticed that the five pit bull mixes appeared malnourished and sick. The officers noted an absence of water dishes or food for the dogs within the apartment. Both residents were arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
The ASPCA is caring for the dogs at our Animal Hospital and at one of our partner veterinary facilities, where they’re receiving medical treatment for malnourishment. It is too soon to discuss eventual adoption options.
"This case clearly illustrates the impact that the NYPD-ASPCA partnership is having on the city's most vulnerable animals," said Howard Lawrence, Senior Director, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group. "While in the course of their normal duties, the Bronx officers were able to identify and stop animal suffering that might otherwise have never been reported."
Last week, the ASPCA assisted the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in removing several Yorkshire Terrier puppies from a building in Lower Manhattan.
The puppies are currently receiving medical care at the ASPCA Hospital, and as this is still an open case with the NYPD, we cannot provide further details at this time.
“This is another example of the partnership between the NYPD and the ASPCA working to rescue animals in New York City,” says Howard Lawrence, Senior Director, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group. “Fortunately, these puppies are now getting expert care from ASPCA veterinary staff. We are hopeful that they will be healthy enough to find homes this spring.”
Update: Coconut has been adopted! Head over to aspca.org/adopt to meet more animals in need of a loving home.
A yelp in the dark. A howl. A bark. No one knows for certain how Coconut reacted when he was hit by a car on a cold December night, but what we do know is that what happened afterward is nothing short of a miracle.
A Good Samaritan found Coconut on the road after the accident in Westchester County, New York. The driver who hit him had long since left the scene, and the pint-sized Maltese mix was in severe distress. He had no tags or microchip and no one seemed to be looking for him.
Coconut was rushed to a nearby 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital, where doctors stabilized him just as he began to lose oxygen and turn blue. After taking radiographs, the extent of his injuries became clear: His diaphragm (the muscle between the chest cavity and abdomen) was ruptured, pushing the dog’s intestines up into his chest cavity. Radiographs also showed a shattered pelvis and a dislocated left hip.
Despite his pain, Coconut radiated a will to live and a loving soul. Once he was strong enough, he was transferred to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) for further evaluation and surgery.
“He was our Christmas present,” said Dr. J’mai Gayle, Director of Surgery at AAH. In a single operation, Dr. Gayle popped Coconut’s hip back into its socket and repaired torn ligaments and fractures. Coconut was also treated for skin wounds, road rash and bruising—painful reminders of his encounter with the automobile. For two weeks he remained at AAH, during which time he befriended every veterinarian, animal care technician and staff member who glanced into his soulful brown eyes. In January, he was placed into a foster home.
“He’s the most phenomenal dog,” said his foster mom, Dr. Jennifer Lander, a veterinarian who works in the ASPCA’s Adoption and Spay/Neuter departments. “Through his arrival, surgery, post-surgery, physical therapy and fostering, he accepted all handling, which is really amazing. It’s hard to imagine how awful he must have felt.”
Dr. Lander conducted physical therapy on Coconut’s right knee and left hip. She noted that he likes to sleep with her oldest son, is housebroken, rarely barks, and prefers the company of one person over many. On February 11, Coconut was X-rayed again and received a glowing report. He is now available for adoption and is eager to find his forever home.
Please help us spread the word about this amazing dog. If you are interested in adopting Coconut, contact the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 3800. To learn more about Coconut, please visit his profile page.
After receiving reports on Monday of a dog wandering on New York City’s Grand Central Parkway in Queens, NY, two New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers responded and found an injured pit bull puppy sitting in the middle lane of the busy roadway. The officers carried the 6-month-old pup, first called “Rocky” and now named “Huxley,” to safety, and transported him first to the ASPCA’s office in Queens, and then to the ASPCA Animal Hospital in Manhattan.
ASPCA veterinarians performed surgery on Huxley’s broken leg, and he is expected to make a full recovery. We’d like to ask anyone who has information about Huxley to please come forward. Thanks to the NYPD officers who rescued this brave dog!