How can I tell if my pet needs emergency veterinary care?
Situations that require emergency veterinary care can happen night or day, and you'll need to be prepared if — or when — one happens to your pet.
At Scottsdale Ranch Animal Hospital, we understand that it can be difficult to know when your dog, cat or other pet needs emergency care. Understanding the signs and symptoms to indicate your pet needs an emergency veterinary visit is critical to their long-term health and well-being.
If your pet is displaying symptoms you're not positive are an emergency, consult with your vet or emergency vet clinic — we are always happy to answer any questions, and safe is better than sorry.
Signs That Your Pet May Be Experiencing a Pet Emergency
Here are some common signs that your pet could be experiencing a pet emergency:
- Ingestion of foreign objects
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Blood in diarrhea
- Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Sudden blindness
- Dilated pupils
- Eye inflammation or injury
- Extreme coughing, choking or difficulty breathing
- Broken bones, open wounds
- Staggering or stumbling
- Loss of balance
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Obvious pain
- Ingestion of poisonous foods
- Severe injury (fall, car accident, etc.)
Essential First Aid Tips for Pet Parents
While knowing how to perform first aid on your pet is important, these tips will not replace the need for proper veterinary care administered by a trained veterinarian.
Help Stop Bleeding
Because hurt animals may bite even their owners or people they love, you should muzzle your pet before beginning. To help stop bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury and use your hand to apply pressure for several minutes until blood begins to clot.
A tourniquet of gause with an elastic band to secure it will be required for severe leg bleeding. Bring your pet in to the emergency veterinary clinic immediately for further care.
Care for a Pet With a Broken or Fractured Bone
Start by muzzling your pet and laying them on a flat surface you can use as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If at all possible, we suggest securing your animal to the stretcher, making sure to avoid applying pressure to the injured area.
What to Do If Your Pet Has a Seizure
Is your four-legged friend experiencing a seizure? Do not attempt to restrain your pet. You’ll also want to remove any objects nearby that may potentially hurt your pet. Once the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and call your vet for advice.
If your pet’s seizure lasts for more than three minutes, or they have consecutive seizures, urgent care is required. Contact your vet immediately.
What to Do If Your Pet is Choking
Know that your pet may bite out of panic, so it’s critical to be cautious as you attempt to help them. Open your pet’s mouth to check for objects. If you spot something, try to gently remove it, being careful not to inadvertently push the object further into your animal’s throat.
If removing the object proves too difficult, don’t waste precious time trying. Immediately bring your pet to the emergency veterinary clinic or vet’s office for urgent help.
Prepare for Pet Emergencies
What You Should Know in Advance
We never plan on a emergency happening, so being prepared for a pet emergency may help you provide the best possible care quickly. Our Scottsdale vets recommend keeping the following information on hand in case of a veterinary emergency:
- Knowledge of essential pet CPR
- Basic knowledge of how to stop bleeding
- Your vet’s phone number
- The Animal Poison Control Center phone number
- Phone number and directions to your nearest emergency vet clinic
- A muzzle that fits your dog (and knowledge of how to use it correctly)
Financial Responsibilities in a Pet Emergency
Pets can require a significant amount of veterinary care when an emergency arises. Diagnostic testing, monitoring and treatment for your pet during an emergency can quickly become expensive. It is a pet owner’s responsibility to ensure that they are able to financially care for their pets if an emergency strikes.
Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances by putting money aside on a regular basis specifically to cover the cost of emergency care for your pet, or by signing up to a pet insurance plan. Delaying emergency veterinary care in order to avoid fees may 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.