Why My Experience with the Emerald City Emergency Clinic Sucked

I have to say I was not very impressed with the ER clinic I took my Dachshund Gretel to recently – Emerald City Emergency Clinic.

They Never Called Me to Pick Her Up

The clinic said she would have to stay 24 hours but then said she might be ready to come home earlier.

I called at 2 pm and they said she was totally fine and ready to come home. Uhhhh…thanks for calling.

She would have sat there all day if I hadn’t called on my own.

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The clinic staff were rude when I arrived to get my dog.

The Vet Blamed and Shamed Me

The staff said the cause of the bloating was “unknown” and gave me the standard line about feeding smaller kibble, feeding smaller meals, watching her water intake after eating, etc.

They then brought me back to talk with the emergency veternarian.

The vet did say there were soft, semi-galatinous white chunks in the vomit they induced and shamed me for giving her rawhide.

I insisted that I absolutely did not give her rawhide because I know how dangerous it could be.

The vet insisted that is what it was and if I didn’t do it, my neighbor must have thrown some over the fence.

After denying she had rawhide for what felt like the 10th time, I did mention that I recently gave her a raw rib bone but took it away because she was biting off chunks of bone and swallowing them.

Then the vet let me really have it – telling me how I should never give my dog raw bones. That they were terrible for a dog and could kill her.

The vet then lead me back to the concrete bathtub where they had induced vomiting to show me.

I saw the white chunks. They looked like partially digested bone, like I had said, and I knew that is what happens to raw bone that is swallowed – that it starts to digest and soften.

I did notice a lot of tiny black speks, or grains, in the vomit.

Id discuss “bloat” with the vet and my concern.

When the stomach swells and twists, which is what happens with the classic bloat, it can be deadly.

The vet explained that Gretel’s swollen stomach was not classic “bloat” and was just filled too full with liquid and food.

I asked about bloat in Dachshunds and she said it could happen but was rare.

Determining the Cause of Her Bloated Stomach

I reported back what I was told by the vet and what I saw in the vomit to Doggy Daddy when I got home.

After much discussion with Doggy Daddy, we determined that her stomach bloated because she got into a loaf of moldy bread.

We weren’t negligent. Not exactly anyway.

Doggy Daddy had taken out the food compost and set it next to the garbage can, which was on the other side of a little fence.

The dogs had never jumped this fence before but, unbekowst to us, the lawn guys hadn’t replaced the wood panel properly, leaving a space where Gretel was able to get through to the bread and then return to the yard.

Doggy Daddy saw that something got into the bread but didn’t suspect Gretel because he didn’t think she could get through the fence and it looked like our resident crow had pecked at it.

When I noticed that Gretel’s stomach was really swollen and she looked uncomfortable, he didn’t think to mention the bread incident to me.

The Incident Followup

Gretel’s little legs were shaved when I went to pick her up because of the IV she was on.

Her little leg was bandaged. She was on pain meds. She looked so pathetic. Poor baby.

Once I found out the cause of Gretel’s swollen stomach, and that is was something that could be prevented in the future, I wasn’t worried about it happening again.

Learing from the vet that the harmful stomach torsion bloat that is so harmful to dogs is rare in Dachshunds, my mind was eased about that.

I did more research on dogs and raw bones and, just as I had thought, raw bones do start to digest in the stomach (but not cooked ones).

Most of the time, they can be passed through the intestines.

Although it’s not advised to let a dog break of large chunks of raw bone and swallow them, it’s not an emergency situaiton unless a dog is unable to pass them.

I never went back to teh Emerald City Emergency Clinic and would not recommend them to anyone.

I had a much, much better experience at the Animal Medical Center of Seattle – a 24-hour emergency vet in Shoreline, WA – for later needs.

The veterinarians, and the level of care there, are amazing.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.

47 Comments

  1. Poor Gretel! I’m glad that you guys are all back together at home! Never doubt that you guys are great pet parents, you take great care of your babies 🙂 Doxies are sneaky little buggers and can get into more things that you think is really possible! I hope you guys have some good quality snuggle time to make up for the time apart!

  2. I am so glad Gretel is ok. That had to be so scary. I have mini dachshunds, female black and brown, and they are treated the same as my children were. They are our four legged children. I love them with all my heart.

    1. Yeah, they ARE my children. I don’t have human children so all of my energy goes into them.

    1. We already dote all over here but you can be assured she is getting extra attention tonight 🙂

  3. So happy little Gretel is ok! That emergency clinic is indeed terrible. A few years ago my parents beloved pomeranian Sam was hit by a car. My parents rushed Sam to Emerald City late at night only to have to pay to be told that he was brain dead and needed to be put down. Sam was clearly not brain dead. He was badly hurt but responsive, and in need of help. Against Emerald City’s insistence, they took Sam home and stayed up with him all night. In the morning our family vet took one look at Sam and sent him to the VCA Specialty Center of Seattle. They are located right off I-5 in Lynnwood and open 24/7/365. Sam ended up needing steel plates in one leg and is blind in one eye, but he is alive and the same dog he ever was. They explained to us that many 24 hour emergency vets just don’t have the facilities or expertise needed, but really just offer a place to have badly injured animals put down. If my parents hadn’t listened to their instincts and stood up took these “professionals”, they would have killed Sam. It breaks my heart to think how many people this has surely gone the other way for.

    1. Yikes. That is a horrible story…well, at least between getting hit and the happy ending of a full recovery. What an emotional roller coaster that must have been. I guess I naively thought that an ER vet would have MORE experience than a regular vet. It’s weird – My regular vet is Aurora Veterinary Hospital and they are great. It is clear that they love animals. They are the ones that recommend Emerald City in an Emergency (maybe because close proximity only??). The feeling I got at this place is that they were disgruntled to be there, didn’t much care for people OR animals and were just there for the money (not necessarily a reflection of price but of attitude).

  4. I made the mistake of taking my old Magoo to Emerald City. They were horrible and did nothing for him. He seized half an hour after leaving. The only ER Vet I recommend is Acces in Lake City and Renton. They are tops. We just lost our little Tilly, a black and tan miniature we adopted last August (she was older). Acces folks were wonderful. Tilly had Cushings and cancer. They diagnosed everything immediately, always kept us appraised of the price and choices we could make. I’ve taken 3 dogs to them and will never take my dogs anywhere else.
    Wished I could have warned you!
    Glad she’s home, though.

    1. I am sorry you had such a crappy experience. I looked at the Yelp reviews after and they are either really good or really bad. i am going to look into Access for next time. I am just afraid it is too far from my house. We will see. At least it was not life and death this time.

  5. Such a relief to have her home! Even more frustrating when you spend all that time and money on tests and nothing comes up! Did they seriously shave her to find a vein?? Not a very experienced tech in my opinion, time to switch to a new ER. But, she looks very happy now! Hope she continues to do well.

    1. Yes. They actually shaved all 4 of her legs. I mean, it is not like she has much hair there. I guess maybe that is why I was a little surprised. I will look into going somewhere else next time. There is one that is the other direction from my house that is supposed to be good. I think it is farther though 🙁

  6. I am so glad that Gretel is home with you and doing better! That sticks that you didn’t have a good experience at the emergency vet. It’s no excuse but I think that sometimes vets forget that not everyone knows what they know. I often wonder if some vets need to take classes on how to talk to people.
    As far as the shaving goes, we always shave a leg when placing a cath, it is more sanitary so that dirt doesn’t go through the bloodstream. and it allows the tape to stick better to keep the cath in place. Not sure why they would shave all 4 legs though unless they couldn’t find a vein, which is sometimes pretty tough in a doxie with their cute little short legs!

    Good investigation work on finding the bread!

      1. I hope you didn’t think I was coming across as a know it all here. Just thought maybe they didn’t explain why they shaved her leg:) We always tell people that we are going to shave so that they are not surprised.

        1. No, not at all. I understand it makes the tape stick better. The literally shaved of a millimeter of hair though. I am not sure how THAT helped them 🙂

  7. I’m so glad she’s back to normal and home! Sometimes emergency means emergency and we take her to the first place we find. We prefer one ER over the other here- maybe there is another option?

    1. Yes. There is another option. It is about 5 minutes further but if I think I have the 5 minutes I will go there next time.

    1. Yeah. I wasn’t criticizing them for not knowing. I know that sometimes you just can’t tell. I was just disappointed that it cost so much money to get absolutely nowhere. I took her in hoping for a solution.

  8. Poor little girl! I’m sorry they were so rude to you 🙁 It seems like there’s been an influx of holier than thou vet staff that I’m hearing about.

    1. Yeah. I might just be extra sensitive because I have worked in customer service. They had zero bedside manner.

  9. Poor Gretel. I’m glad she’s okay. When my dog needed to have some blood drawn they couldn’t find a vein in both her front and back leg, so they shaved a small patch of her ruff and went in through the jugular. I was told ahead of time that might happen, but the little bare patches still look so sad.
    Accidents happen to everyone, and having to take your dog to the vet doesn’t make you a bad owner. Last summer I had to take Suki in because she had a very large closed abscess or cyst between two of her back toes. She never complained about it or slowed down so I had no idea there was even a problem until the lump was huge, and I still don’t know where she picked up the infection (although I suspect it’s from running on barnacles). I had to take her into the vet, feeling the burn of neglect shame, with an abscess that looked like it had been ignored for weeks.

  10. Poor little G! Best wishes for a speedy recovery. (But she shouldn’t have to recover from the ER visit itself!)
    Warm blanket and favorite treats(when ready),
    -P. and M.

    1. Yeah, I haven’t been feeding her much. I gave her few snacks and a tiny scoop of food thing morning. I wanted to go easy on her stomach.

  11. We’ve gone to VCA in Lynnwood multiple times with different dogs and they have been wonderful. One dog was in there a week for HGE and another was diagnosed with cancer. Not cheap but worth it. We now have local animal hospital but will use VCA when needed.

  12. Glad this story ended well. Do you think it will teach Gretel not to scrounge for scraps?

    We were lucky that Honey had such a good experience when she needed emergency surgery. I almost think she was sorry to go home. 🙂

    1. You hope it would don’t you. But Nope 🙂 Both Chester and Gretel have eaten stuff that made them violently sick but that never stopped them from going back. It sure teaches (trains) us better though. ha, ha.

  13. So happy to hear that everything is ok! I had a bloat scare with Gwynn, though less his stomach swelling, and more that he was behaving very very strangely. It’s a scary thing, and there really aren’t any solid solutions/causes/preventative measures out there… just a lot of horror stories.

    1. I know – all you hear about is the horror stories and not “my dog had a bloated stomach and was fine”. I have heard that Pepcid or Malox can help if you are reasonably sure it is just a bloated belly and not a twisted stomach (like with Gretel and her history).

  14. Glad you found the source! She looks like such a sweetpea all cuddled up.

    My pup, Rita, is a scrounger. She survived on the beach in Mexico on her own for a while before being rescued so I guess she comes by it from her background. It’s hard to be vigilent all the time and accidents do happen.

    Hope she is feeling better!

    1. Yeah. We are pretty vigilant but accidents do happen. You can’t beat yourself up about it. I bet scrounging is all Rita knew.

  15. When Baylee had her Lepto reaction, after everything was under control, I realized that I had no idea where the closest Vet ER was to my house. Fortunately that day the vet stayed open late to wait for me to get there with Baylee. The vet’s office gave me a list of recommended clinics in our area. I have this list in a handy place, just in case I need to have quick care. Pet owners don’t think about it, but it is important to know where a good ER is!

  16. Poor Gretel. I am so glad she is back home now and will be okay. What a terrifying ordeal for you all. Bloat is something that is always at the back of my mind and so far I haven’t really found any conclusive methods of prevention. 🙁 It’s really too bad the vet was not more helpful or understanding. Hopefully she won’t ever need to go back there again.

  17. I also have a bad story to share about Emerald City Emergency Clinic–it happened about ten years ago. Our dachschund/beagle mix was a young guy then and had a back injury. He was inflamed, in massive pain, and unable to move. The vests at Emerald City suggested a horribly expensive surgery on his back, or the only other resort would be to put him down, which was their recommendation. We left with my daughter in tears.

    The next day we went to the vet that is across from the animal shelter on 15th west between Ballard and downtown. A very sensible female veterinarian gave the following advice which we followed to the T. She put him on a strict diet so he would lose some weight, gave him some medicine to reduce inflammation, and had us immobolize him COMPLETELY for a month. My daughte fashioned diapers for him and carried him outside and set him on the ground to do his business. She gave him fresh air by taking him for rides in a stroller. One month later we had our old dog back, better than ever. He is still alive today at age 12 and has never had another issue with his back. Sure glad we got a second opinion!!!

  18. Yay!!

    So happy little Gretel is back home and feeling well again!! I’m sure she’s gonna get a few extra cuddles to make up for her ordeal 🙂

    Big Wags to all

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

    1. Thanks. We are glad to have her home. I can tell the whole thing shook her up because she has been extra needy since she has been home 🙁

  19. Just so you know, kibble does cause bloating. Another great reason it should not be fed to our dogs and cats.

    1. Thanks. As I said, I am educated on this debate and am aware. However, millions of dogs eat kibble every day with no incident. Kibble does not equal imminent bloat. Each dog is unique in how they can digest kibble (or not). Gretel’s kibble had nothing to do with this bloat incident. It was determined that her tummy was stuffed to the roof with bread because she snuk into our garbage and ate part of a loaf.

      So, do you have your own blog? Just curious because you didn’t share one when you commented. I will add it to my Feedreader if you do.

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