Should I take my pet to the ER?
A situation requiring emergency veterinary care could occur at any time - day or night - and you'll need to be prepared.
But it can be challenging for even the most attentive pet parents to spot a cat or dog emergency. That's why knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate an emergency health issue is happening to your pet is helpful. If you still aren't sure, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for advice.
What are the signs of a dog or cat health emergency?
Pet emergencies can occur in many ways from accidents to ingestions, injuries to the sudden onset of disease. Below are some of the most common signs that your dog or cat may need to see an emergency vet:
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
- Dilated pupils
- Severe injury (car accidents, broken bones, gashes)
- 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
What basic first aid can I apply to my pet in an emergency?
It's important to note that performing basic first aid on your pet should not replace professional veterinary care, it is solely to stabilize your animal for a trip to your emergency vet.
Muzzle your dog 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.
Coping With Seizures
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.
Dealing With Fractures
Muzzle your dog. 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.
If Your Pet Is Choking
Be extra cautious when trying to help an animal that's choking, they could bite out of panic. Try to check your pet's mouth for objects and try to remove it 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 continuing to try. Immediately bring your pet to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic for care.
How can I prepare for a dog or cat emergency?
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 Santa Clarita 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 (ER for pets)
- 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 Animal Hospital (ER for pets)
- 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 in order to avoid emergency 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.