Knowing when your pet needs emergency care isn't always obvious. Here, our San Diego vets share some of the signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency vet is necessary.
How Do I Know If My Pet Needs Emergency Care?
Day or night, a situation that requires emergency veterinary care could occur, and you'll need to be prepared, if or when it happens to your animal.
It can be challenging for pet owners to know when their dog, cat, or other pet needs emergency care. That's why, knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency vet is necessary, is helpful. If you still aren't sure, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for advice.
Signs of a Pet Emergency
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
- Dilated pupils
- Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Obvious pain
- Loss of balance
- Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
- Inflammation or injury to the eye
Basic First Aid
Please note that performing basic first aid on your pet is not intended to replace veterinary care, it is solely to stabilize your animal for a trip to your emergency vet.
Muzzle your pet before beginning. To help stop the bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury, applying pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins. A tourniquet of gauze with an elastic band to secure it will be required for severe leg bleeding. Immediately bring your pet to the veterinary clinic.
Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Try to remove objects that may hurt your pet. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet.
Muzzle your pet. Lay your pet on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If possible, secure your animal to the stretcher, avoiding putting pressure on the injured area.
Your pet may bite out of panic, so it's important to be cautious. Check your pet's mouth for objects and try to remove them if possible. Be careful to not accidentally push the object further into your animal's throat. If this is too difficult, don't waste precious time trying. Immediately transport your pet to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic for care.
What You Should Know in Advance
You never know when an emergency might strike, but being prepared for a pet emergency may help you to provide your animal with the best possible care quickly. Our San Diego vets suggest keeping the following at hand in case of an emergency:
- The phone number for your vet's office
- The phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
- The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
- How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others
- Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
- Knowledge of basic pet CPR
- Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
Due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment required, emergency veterinary care can be expensive. It is a pet owner's responsibility to ensure that they can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.
Prepare for unforeseeable circumstances by putting money aside specifically for emergencies, or by signing up for a pet insurance plan. Putting off veterinary care to avoid emergency fees could put your pet's life at risk.