My tortoise was coughing blood... Please help

TillyTheTort

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Apr 19, 2017
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Belgrade, Serbia
Hello everyone.
First, I want to say that I am new here. Just had to urgently make tbis post, so sorry if it's breaking any rules, or posting in the wrong section - didn't really have time to read them all.

Here's the situation. I've had a female Testudo Hermanni for about two weeks. She was found in the wild by my cousin, and brought to me, because she had some wounds (presumably rat bites), and he knew that I have torts and know how to love them and care for them.

She was recovering fastly, she became tame - loved cuddles, ate from my hand etc, her wounds got better... But, one wound started to look kinda weird, so I tool her to the vet.

The vet cleaned her wound and gave her some ointment to put on the wound. I also have two baby torts, which are on a parasite therapy now, so the vet told me to bring the big girl too the next day, to clean the wound again.

The next day (it was yesterday), he asked me if I want him to take blood samples, to check for parasites, just in case. I said okay. He said he's gonna take a blood sample from between her neck and her carapace. He also said that vein is hard to find so it might take a few tries, but it won't hurt. So, he poked my tort with a needle a few times and third time he managed to draw some blood.

He said that the tort was "behaving good", she wasn't restless and scared like many torts are when they are taking blood samples. He put her back in the box in which we brought her...

And then it happened. She started coughing blood! Blood coming from her nose and mouth... She started choking, she was breathing heavily, so he urgently put her into a plastic box with strong oxygen supply, and gave her antishock injection and also injection with something to help blood coagulation. My poor baby's head was twitching, she was coughing, trying to breathe with her mouth wide open, still choking... I was petrified, I thought I have lost her... In the meantime, someone from the lab came and said they have seen her blood under the microscope. They said that she has a very little amount of thrombocytes (platelets) and that's why she has problems with coagulation. The vet also said that this has never happened to him before, when he was taking torts' blood, and that she must have already had some serious problems, so the stress from taking the blood just activated that problems and make some capillaries in her lungs break. :(

Note that in my country, reptiles, especially torts are not that popular pets. We don't have a true reptile vet here. This vet works on a veterinary university (that's where I took her, it's a "small animals" clinique) and he has graduated on exotic animals. But not really that much experience with torts. He said he has to go through the literature, to see what to do with cases like this.

Anyways, eventually my tort stopped twitching and opening her mouth, so he took her out of the oxygen box, and put her back in our carrying box, to rest. When we came home, she seemed to be breathing normally. She crawled around, I gave her lettuce to eat, which she ate in normal amounts. Later she had a poo, I gave her a warm bath, where she had another poo. Was active afterwards, I tried to put her to rest but she wanted to crawl around, so I let her walk around the room for 10 minutes. Then I put her into a basket with soft clothes to rest and sleep.

She was awake for long, trying to get out of the basket, and then just laying steadily,awake. I think she is asleep now. She is much better than today - the crisis is over - but the only thing that worries me now is that she's making those quiet "clicking" sounds when she breathes. You know, like tiny clicks. It's nothing compared to this choking from today, but still... I am so afraid that I'm gonna lose her, and I feel guilty for agreeing to take blood samples and check for parasites, instead of letting her be, cause she's been living with that parasites in nature and she was still okay. Feel guilty for that blood test causing that stress and capillary breaking.

We are taking her to the vets again in the morning.

So...If anyone here has any advice, experience from a similar situation, any idea what's the problem here and what should be done... Please help. I can't lose my baby. Thank you in advance.
 

Yvonne G

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I think most of us have the poop looked at to check for parasites, not the blood.

I don't really know what to tell you, other than set the tortoise up in a regular enclosure with heat and lights and substrate and just let it be a tortoise. No more walking around on the floor.
 

Kasia

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Aug 15, 2015
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808
Location (City and/or State)
Poland
Hello everyone.
First, I want to say that I am new here. Just had to urgently make tbis post, so sorry if it's breaking any rules, or posting in the wrong section - didn't really have time to read them all.

Here's the situation. I've had a female Testudo Hermanni for about two weeks. She was found in the wild by my cousin, and brought to me, because she had some wounds (presumably rat bites), and he knew that I have torts and know how to love them and care for them.

She was recovering fastly, she became tame - loved cuddles, ate from my hand etc, her wounds got better... But, one wound started to look kinda weird, so I tool her to the vet.

The vet cleaned her wound and gave her some ointment to put on the wound. I also have two baby torts, which are on a parasite therapy now, so the vet told me to bring the big girl too the next day, to clean the wound again.

The next day (it was yesterday), he asked me if I want him to take blood samples, to check for parasites, just in case. I said okay. He said he's gonna take a blood sample from between her neck and her carapace. He also said that vein is hard to find so it might take a few tries, but it won't hurt. So, he poked my tort with a needle a few times and third time he managed to draw some blood.

He said that the tort was "behaving good", she wasn't restless and scared like many torts are when they are taking blood samples. He put her back in the box in which we brought her...

And then it happened. She started coughing blood! Blood coming from her nose and mouth... She started choking, she was breathing heavily, so he urgently put her into a plastic box with strong oxygen supply, and gave her antishock injection and also injection with something to help blood coagulation. My poor baby's head was twitching, she was coughing, trying to breathe with her mouth wide open, still choking... I was petrified, I thought I have lost her... In the meantime, someone from the lab came and said they have seen her blood under the microscope. They said that she has a very little amount of thrombocytes (platelets) and that's why she has problems with coagulation. The vet also said that this has never happened to him before, when he was taking torts' blood, and that she must have already had some serious problems, so the stress from taking the blood just activated that problems and make some capillaries in her lungs break. :(

Note that in my country, reptiles, especially torts are not that popular pets. We don't have a true reptile vet here. This vet works on a veterinary university (that's where I took her, it's a "small animals" clinique) and he has graduated on exotic animals. But not really that much experience with torts. He said he has to go through the literature, to see what to do with cases like this.

Anyways, eventually my tort stopped twitching and opening her mouth, so he took her out of the oxygen box, and put her back in our carrying box, to rest. When we came home, she seemed to be breathing normally. She crawled around, I gave her lettuce to eat, which she ate in normal amounts. Later she had a poo, I gave her a warm bath, where she had another poo. Was active afterwards, I tried to put her to rest but she wanted to crawl around, so I let her walk around the room for 10 minutes. Then I put her into a basket with soft clothes to rest and sleep.

She was awake for long, trying to get out of the basket, and then just laying steadily,awake. I think she is asleep now. She is much better than today - the crisis is over - but the only thing that worries me now is that she's making those quiet "clicking" sounds when she breathes. You know, like tiny clicks. It's nothing compared to this choking from today, but still... I am so afraid that I'm gonna lose her, and I feel guilty for agreeing to take blood samples and check for parasites, instead of letting her be, cause she's been living with that parasites in nature and she was still okay. Feel guilty for that blood test causing that stress and capillary breaking.

We are taking her to the vets again in the morning.

So...If anyone here has any advice, experience from a similar situation, any idea what's the problem here and what should be done... Please help. I can't lose my baby. Thank you in advance.
Hi @TillyTheTort:)
It must have been terrible to see your little one in such a dramatic situation. If it has some kinda blood disorder you can probably only make it comfy and hope for as much time as possible in a semi-good health. I am not a Vet but as a keeper I would try to get a second opinion and if breathing will not return to normal/gets worse I would ask Vet for an X-ray to determine state of its lungs/presents of fluid/signs of pneumonia. Did it get any antibiotics? Are the wounds you mentioned badly infected? I wish you both all the best!
 

TammyJ

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It seems that being stuck with the needle and taking blood created a bleeding/choking problem due to haemophilia or something like that. I feel sorry for you, the tortoise and the vet who it seems was trying his best with what he knew. And I wish the tortoise a good recovery, and thank you for caring. Please keep us updated!
 

Markw84

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I'd love to see @deadheadvet 's take on this. Sounds like the "stress induced aggravation of a previous condition" is kind of a cop-out for a botched job. I certainly have never heard of a blood test for parasites vs. a fecal test. Blood work for vitamin levels, hormones, etc. I understand. Is taking blood from the neck customary? If the trachea was punctured along with a vein is there anything else that should be done?
 

deadheadvet

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Agreed on the reason to do blood work is not for parasites but usually general biochemical profile. I myself do not draw from the sub carapacial space but the jugular vein. Could be that the draw was not placed correctly and blood would be coming up from the interior. Since I do not draw from there but a lot of experienced reptile vets do, not going to throw the vet under the bus on this one.
 
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