Having a pet is a commitment. Most people misunderstand the most common pet emergencies, and don’t call for help until it’s too late. Understanding and keeping a list of the most common emergencies that require a veterinarian’s attention will help keep a pet healthy for a long time.
1. Severe Bleeding
This is the number one emergency because too many people believe an animal’s first aid can be done at home. If bleeding is severe or lasts more than five minutes, it must be checked by a vet. The fur could be hiding a bigger problem, or the animal might need stitches to heal without infection. The cut could be deeper than it appears, or there could be internal bleeding that needs surgery.
2. Choking and Difficulty Breathing
As with humans, it’s never a good idea to “wait and see” when an animal cannot breathe. Never try to clear the airway, and learn animal CPR to keep the animal safe. Take the vet to emergency care, even if CPR helps the animal breathe again, to make sure the animal is safe. A vet is the best trained person to make sure the animal does not have internal damage that caused the breathing issues.
3. Blood from Extremities
If there is blood in sputum, vomit, excrement, nose, ears, eyes, or mouth, it’s important to find out why. Perhaps the animal was injured while out of your sight, and needs emergency procedures to live. Blood should never be taken lightly. Seek emergency care immediately if blood is found coming from an animal. There could be unseen internal injuries.
4. Inability to Toilet
If the animal has pain in urination or defecation, or can do neither, it’s important to find out why. The animal could have an issue larger than you can handle, and may need a doctor’s care. Animals often do not express pain, so an ongoing issue can progress to a life threatening problem without your knowledge.
5. Injury to Eyes
An animal’s eyes are structured differently than a human’s eyes. If the eye is injured, there could be internal damage to structures close to the brain. Asking a vet for help will save your pet further harm.
6. Eating Poison
Many things that are fine for humans are toxic for animals. Items such as antifreeze, multivitamins, chocolate, pest poison, and more are very dangerous. They are also items an animal will ingest willingly. Learn what items are poisonous to your pet and call a vet emergency service immediately if you suspect your animal has ingested any poisonous substance.
If an animal seizes, vet attention is required immediately. Staggering also falls under this category. These activities indicate a problem with the brain, and the animal needs immediate help. A vet can assess the situation, and might require more tests to find out how to best help the animal.
8. Lameness and Broken Bones
It’s never a good idea to allow an animal to “heal” when he or she displays leg issues. Allowing this to happen will cause the animal unnecessary pain later in life. Avoid these issues by taking the animal to the vet and help him or her live a longer, healthier, happier life.
9. Pain and Anxiety
As stated above, pets will not tell their humans when there is pain. If an animal is exhibiting signs of pain, it has progressed to a severe state and the animal must see a vet right away. Another method of expressing pain or illness is anxiety. If your normally happy dog suddenly snaps at your hand or does not welcome visitors, there might be a physical issue. Call a vet right away to have the animal evaluated to check for any possible pain. If you can pinpoint the area of the pain, it will help the vet’s diagnosis. Note the animal’s change in behavior and anxiety activities as well, as these notes will also help the vet.
10. Heat Stroke
As more stories of animals left in cars surface, so does the awareness of heat stroke. If an animal is suffering from heat stroke, he or she must see a vet immediately. Some signs of heat stroke are:
- panting excessively
- dark or bright red gums
- dry tongue
- staggering, stupor or seizures
- bloody diarrhea and/or vomiting
11. Severe Vomiting/Diarrhea
Many people like to wait these out, but either of these items in their severity will cause dehydration and death quickly. It’s important to find out why the animal is having this reaction. Take the animal to the vet, and try to remember what the animal has eaten. Consider any poisons the animal may have encountered using the poison list mentioned above. The information you can provide about your pet’s most recent activities will help the vet find out what’s wrong.
12. Refusal to Drink
An animal will drink consistently. If the animal has had nothing to drink in the past 24 hours, despite available water, take the animal to the vet. It’s important to understand your animal and keep the water dish clean, but even if the dish is dirty, an animal will eventually drink from it. Any refusal to do so over 24 hours is an indication of an emergency situation.
This item seems obvious, but some pet owners may think their animal is simply sleeping. If the animal cannot be roused from a sleep, contact a vet right away. The animal may have passed out. The vet will need to evaluate the animal to find out what could be happening to make the animal lose consciousness.
14. General Weakness and Difficulty with Mobility
Weakness and mobility problems are some of the most common signs of disease in pets. Of course, dogs and cats are known to suddenly start limping without apparent cause. But chronic cases of mobility issues should raise a red flag.
If your pet has been limping or has refused to move at all for several hours, it’s best to take them to the vet immediately in order to preempt any possible complications.
15. Struggling to Urinate
According to experts, dogs should urinate 3-5 times a day, and cats 2-4 times a day. Of course, there is no magic number as certain factors might affect the amount or frequency of urination. In instances of illness, however, your pet might not urinate at all.
If you notice that your cat or dog positions themselves to urinate but fails to let anything out, then be sure to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. It takes a while before conditions like UTI become apparent to pet owners. So your furry friend may have already been struggling with it for a while before it became noticeable.
16. Heavy Breathing and Coughing
If you’ve ever had a pet – dog or cat – you’ll know they let out hairballs every so often. So deep heaving and consequent vomiting might not seem like cause for alarm.
But be mindful of your pet whenever they do start to breathe heavily or cough. If they’ve been doing it for a few days without relief, then it’s high time you visit your vet. It could be a sign of a lung infection or a lower respiratory tract disease.
17. Various Seizures
Cats and dogs can have certain types of epilepsy. But be sure to visit your vet to determine whether or not your pet has a seizure disorder earlier on.
There are three phases to a seizure – the prodromal stage, critical stage, and the postictal stage. The first is a warning phase and will tell you that a seizure is about to occur. During the prodromal stage, your pet might seem tense, agitated, and anxious, and will likely start to pace, pant, and tremble.
On the first sign of a seizure, take your pet to the hospital immediately. While there’s nothing your vet can do to prevent it from happening, they can break the seizure by providing your pet with valium.
18. Troubles with Vomiting
Sick Cat Vomiting
Vomiting can sometimes be an everyday occurrence for pets, so pet owners usually take the issue lightly. But there are instances when vomiting should be a cause for concern.
Inspect your pet’s vomit for strange or foreign substances and blood. You might also want to consider logging how much and how often your pet vomits throughout the day. Three or more episodes of vomiting in a single day should warrant a trip to the vet.
It’s also ideal to keep an eye out for other tell-tale signs. For instance, some pets will refuse to lie down when they feel nauseated. If you suspect your pet is trying to prevent vomiting by maintaining a standing position, then seek the advice of a professional as soon as possible.
19. Serious Trauma and Severe Pain
In cases when your pet is involved in a seriously injurious accident or event, it’s imperative that you visit the vet immediately. The injury might not be apparent on the surface, but organs and other internal structures may have been seriously hurt, requiring urgent medical care and attention.
In these instances, you may want to inspect your pet’s body and their behavior. Signs of severe pain such as compensatory postures, refusal to move, and whimpering should tell you that there’s something wrong on the inside.
20. Refusing Food and Water
Sometimes your pet will have an appetite, other times, they might not eat at all. And that’s absolutely normal. However, if your pet has been refusing both food and water for a while now, and they seem weak, dull, and unwell, there might be more to it than the usual lack of appetite.
Often, a pet will refuse to take any food or water as a symptom of an existing condition or infection. Taking them to a veterinarian as soon as possible should help pinpoint the issue, resolve it, and restore your pet’s appetite.
Your pet’s health is your responsibility. Because these beloved creatures might not be able to express themselves in times of illness and injury, it’s up to you to determine when it’s time to visit the vet.
So at the first signs of problem, make sure you act by bringing your furry friend to the best veterinary specialist in your area for prompt and proper medical care and attention.