Sometimes it can be difficult for pet owners to know when their animal is in need of urgent veterinary care. Today, our Plains emergency vets share some of the signs and symptoms that indicate that it's time to head to your closest emergency veterinary hospital.
How can I tell if my pet needs Emergency Care?
Situations requiring emergency veterinary care can happen at any time of the day or night, and it's important to be prepared for 'if-or-when' it happens to your pet.
Our emergency vets understand that it can be challenging for even the most attentive pet parents to spot when their pet is in need of urgent emergency care. That's why it can be helpful to know ahead of time what signs and symptoms indicate that your pet is experiencing a health emergency. If your dog or cat is showing symptoms, or behaviors that are unusual for them, or that you are unsure about, contact your primary care veterinarian or the nearest emergency vet clinic for advice.
Signs That Your Pet May Be Experiencing a Health Emergency
- Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
- Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
- Inflammation or injury to the eye
- Obvious pain
- Staggering or stumbling
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Repeated vomiting
- Dilated pupils
- Severe injury (car accident, fall)
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Ingestion of poisonous foods
- Broken bones, open wounds
- Ingestion of foreign objects
- Sudden blindness
- Loss of balance
- Blood in diarrhea
Basic First Aid for Pet Owners
Although knowing how to perform first aid on your pet is important, it does not replace the need for professional veterinary care. Use first aid to help stabilize your pet for the journey to the vet.
Help Stop Bleeding
Muzzle your pet before beginning first aid. Even the most loving animals may bite when they are injured or in pain. To help stop the bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury, apply pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins. A tourniquet of gauze with an elastic band to secure it may be required for severe leg bleeding. Bring your pet to the emergency veterinary clinic immediately for care.
What To Do If Your Pet Has a Seizure
If your dog is experiencing a seizure, do not attempt to restrain your pet. Move any objects that are close to your pet and may cause an injury. Once the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your primary care veterinarian for advice. If your animal has a number of seizures in a row or a single seizure that lasts for more than 3 minutes urgent care is required. Contact your vet immediately or take your pet to the nearest animal emergency hospital.
Caring for a Dog or Cat with a Fractured or Broken Bone
Begin by muzzling your pet, then lay them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If at all possible, we suggest securing your animal to the stretcher, being sure to avoid putting pressure on the injured area.
What to do if Your Pet is Choking
Remember that your pet may bite out of panic, so it's important to be cautious while trying to help your animal. Open your pet's mouth and check for objects. If you spot something, gently try to remove it if possible. Be extremely cautious while attempting to remove something that's lodged in your pet's throat! You do not want accidentally push the object deeper into the throat. If removing the object is not possible, don't waste precious time trying. Immediately transport your pet to your vet's office or the nearest emergency veterinary clinic for urgent assistance. Note: Knowing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your pet could help to save your dog's life. Tutorials are available online if you'd like to learn how to do this maneuver before an emergency strikes.
Being Prepared for Veterinary Emergencies
What Pet Owners Should Know in Advance
It's impossible to know when an emergency might strike, but being prepared for a veterinary emergency could help you to provide your animal with the care they need, more quickly. Our Plains emergency vets suggest keeping the following information and items readily available in case your animal experiences a health emergency:
- Your vet's phone number
- Phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
- The Animal Poison Control Center phone number
- A muzzle that fits your dog, (practice using it before an emergency strikes)
- Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
- Knowledge of basic pet CPR
- Basic knowledge of how to stop bleeding
- Knowledge of how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your pet
Financial Responsibilities in a Pet Emergency
Pet emergencies often require a significant amount of veterinary care. Diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment for your beloved companion in an emergency can quickly become expensive. It is a pet owners responsibility to ensure that they can financially care for their animal if an emergency strikes.
Prepare for unforeseeable circumstances by regularly putting money aside specifically to cover the cost of emergency care for your dog or cat, or by signing up for a pet insurance plan. Delaying emergency veterinary care in order to avoid fees could put your pet's life at risk.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.