CKC: Elephant Nature Park Part 1 – dogs!

Our third project takes place at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai,  Thailand. As the name suggests, ENP is home to over 60 rescued elephants from across Thailand. However, since the Bangkok Flood of 2011, it has also opened a separate clinic for rescued dogs. Initially, the ENP staff traveled to Bangkok with the mission to rescue elephants from the flood. However,  they quickly realized that many dogs were also left homeless when their owners evacuated the area. As such, the ENP dogs division was formed and they were able to rescue 155 dogs. Through their dedication and hard work,  ENP staff were able to return almost all the dogs to their respectful owners.  Since then, ENP Dogs has grown to become home to over 450 dogs.

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This week we worked alongside 6 other volunteers at the dog and cat shelter. Adam and Sabrina, the volunteer coordinators, guided us through our daily activities including cleaning kennels, bathing, feeding and walking dogs. After completion of the morning duties, we had the opportunity to work with Dr. Toy and her veterinary assistants, Ben and Arm. We assisted in daily treatments such as wound cleaning, eye checkups and administering fluids to older patients with kidney failure. In particular, one of our most important tasks was to nebulize dogs that had been recently diagnosed with lung infections. A nebulizer is an instrument that vapourizes liquid antibiotic so it can be inhaled into the lungs of the patient. During the treatment, the animal is placed in an enclosed space with the nebulizer and breathe in the vapourized antibiotic air for a set time of 20 minutes. We are currently awaiting transtracheal wash results to determine the root cause of the infections.

A pup getting his daily nebulizer treatment. The cage is enclosed so that the antibiotic  air is breathed into the lungs of the patient.
A pup getting his daily nebulizer treatment. The cage is enclosed so that the antibiotic air is breathed into the lungs of the patient.

During our first days at the clinic,  a few patients were suspected to have ringworm since there were already two confirmed cases. After performing a culture on the skin lesions from the suspected dogs, we were relieved to find that they were negative for ringworm. Contrary to its name, ringworm does not involve worms at all, but is in fact a fungal skin infection that is highly contagious to both humans and animals.  As such, the two confirmed cases are currently in isolation and receiving treatment, and a sanitation protocol is in place to help contain the infection. We are hopeful that this will help prevent the spread of ringworm to other dogs at the facility.

Dr. Toy and vet technician Ben using a Wood's lamp to check for ringworm. Some fungus will fluroesce under UV light,  which can be helpful when diagnosing for ringworm.
Dr. Toy and vet technician Ben using a Wood’s lamp to check for ringworm. Some fungus will fluroesce under UV light, which can be helpful when diagnosing for ringworm.

Another interesting case we saw this week was a young puppy that had bilateral fore and hindlimb muscle paralysis. When he first arrived, the history given by his owner did not indicate possible spinal trauma. Moreover, the symptoms exhibited by the patient reassembled a recent case at the clinic of neospora. This parasite is found within the muscle of cows and dogs often contract it by consuming contaminated uncooked beef products. The parasite then travels in the body of the host (dog) and encysts in the muscle, thereby causing paralysis. Our patient was treated symptomatically with a course of clindamycin antibiotic and twice daily physiotherapy. He also required us to manually express his bladder, as he could not urinate on his own.  When we took the dog out for its daily therapy, he initially required 100% support but quickly progressed to only needing a sling for support when walking. By the end of the week, the patient was able to walk without support and relieve himself! It was very rewarding to see the vast improvement and he was able to return home to his owners after just a week at the clinic.

Our neospora puppy resting in his kennel after his walk and physiotherapy
Our neospora puppy resting in his kennel after his walk and physiotherapy

Throughout the week,  Dr. Toy also performed sterilizations on local dogs. ENP encourages population and disease control in the community by offering free surgeries to locals who bring in their pets.  After observing and assisting in a few surgeries earlier in the week, Dr. Toy graciously offered us the opportunity to perform a canine castration under her guidance. Our patient’s name was Latte and we are pleased to say that the surgery went smoothly and he had a successful recovery.

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Lastly, ENP Dogs has a great adoption program in place. If you are interested in adopting any of their dogs,  please visit their website (www.saveelephant.org) for more information and pictures of the adorable pups in need of a forever home. The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful in organizing overseas adoptions.

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We would like to thank Dr. Toy, Adam, Sabrina, Ben and Arm for hosting us this week at ENP Dogs. We had a blast working with the staff and volunteers,  and will miss all the adorable dogs here!

… Up next, ENP Elephants!

-ckc

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