If there is one thing on which we can all agree, it’s that no pet owner ever wants to utter the words “pet” and “emergency” in the same sentence. Sometimes, though, our furry friends become sick or injured in a critical way, making the need for emergency pet care inevitable.
As your pet’s advocate, it is important for you to be able to recognize the signs of a pet emergency, how to help a pet in distress, and to discern when veterinary care can wait for a scheduled appointment.
Identifying an Emergency
Some things are “no brainers” (Your dog got hit by a car? Emergency!), but other situations are not so obvious. Animals are notoriously good at hiding signs of illness until things are quite severe and so you might not pick up on trouble right away.
There are certain symptoms that always warrant being checked out immediately, even if things seem stable. These include:
- Vomiting or diarrhea (more than twice in a 24 hour period)
- Not eating/drinking for more than 24 hours
- Trouble breathing
- Unable to urinate
- Urinating excessively
- Gagging/retching unproductively
- Sudden change in personality
- Signs of pain
- Pale gums
- Known trauma (dog attack, hit by a car, etc.)
- Chewing on an electric cord
- Known or suspected ingestion of a toxin or foreign body
- Blood in the stool or urine
- Bleeding for more than five minutes
- Seizure (especially a first seizure or multiple/ongoing seizures)
- Trouble delivering puppies/kittens
- Problems with the eyes
- High or low body temperature
- An obvious injury such as a broken bone
While not all of these symptoms mean that your pet is in a dire situation, all of them can be signs of serious or life threatening conditions. It is better to have us take a peek than to wait until things progress beyond help.
Tips on Handling a Pet Emergency
If you think you might be having a pet emergency, don’t hesitate to act. In fact, quick action often makes a tremendous difference in the outcome of many pet emergencies.
When it comes to pet emergencies, we suggest:
- Keeping a small pet first aid kit at home to help stabilize your patient
- Bringing along any medications or supplements that your pet is taking when time allows
- Grabbing any packing or leftovers from a potential toxin ingestion
- Using a pet carrier and handling your pet as little as possible if injury is suspected
- Keeping the head above heart level if the pet is vomiting
- Driving safely! If you can, bring someone to tend to your pet while you keep your eyes on the road (or vice-versa)
It is also important to remember that pets who are in pain or feel sick may act differently. Handle your pet gently and take care to avoid being bitten.
No one wants to have a pet emergency, but being prepared can help you to handle them when they occur. We hope you will remember that Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is here for you during a pet emergency – and any other time you need advice or help with your pet.