Your precious pet falling ill or being injured certainly feels like an emergency. But, not all medical issues require immediate veterinary care. Sometimes you can wait to see if the problem resolves on its own, like a case of reverse sneezing, or sometimes you can wait for the next available appointment, such as your pet’s mild muscle sprain. Since deciding whether your pet’s situation is a true emergency can be tough, our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team is here to help. We’ve outlined some of the most common critical situations and their signs that indicate emergency care is necessary. 

What are the signs of a veterinary emergency?

Cats and dogs get into all sorts of mischief and, while some situations may be adorable or funny, others can be dangerous and sometimes deadly. If your pet shows any of the following issues, contact us immediately:

  • Inability to breathe normally
  • Seizuring
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to urinate
  • Ingestion of a toxic substance
  • Loss of balance
  • Penetrating wounds
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Major eye trauma
  • Burns 
  • Fever (i.e., typically over 103 degrees for cats and dogs)
  • Broken bones
  • Uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea

Since this list of emergencies cannot possibly cover all the possible scenarios, call our hospital if you’re unsure about a potential critical situation with your pet.

What are common conditions in pets that require emergency care?

Pets can get themselves into a vast number of emergency situations. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Broken bones
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heatstroke
  • Urinary blockage
  • Seizures
  • Car accidents
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Excessive vomiting and diarrhea
  • Eye trauma
  • Limping
  • Fighting with another pet
  • Toxin ingestion
  • Severe allergic reaction

Some emergencies have clearly obvious signs of a problem, such as a visible broken bone that has pierced through the skin. Others are more subtle—for example, a male cat straining to urinate may seem only constipated, but a urinary blockage is much more serious and can be fatal without prompt treatment. And, while most emergencies appear suddenly and are acute conditions, chronic conditions can rapidly go downhill and require immediate treatment. One possible scenario is a pet with ongoing congestive heart failure who takes a turn for the worse and is struggling to breathe, although they have until then been well-controlled on medication. No matter the case, if you’re concerned, we need to see your pet. 

How to safely transport your injured pet

If your pet is in pain or disoriented, they can easily bite out of discomfort, anxiety, or fear, so keep them and yourself safe prior to transport by fitting them with a muzzle. However, if your pet is panting excessively or struggling to breathe, a muzzle can skyrocket their anxiety and cause more issues. Next, carefully position your injured dog on a stretcher made of a large blanket, or a blanket covering a sturdy board. Try to minimize jostling as you place your pet inside your car to avoid further injury.

Cover cats with a large towel or blanket, wrapping the edges underneath their body and scooping them up before placing them in an open-topped carrier or box for support. The towel can protect you from bites and calm your cat during transport, but ensure they remain uncovered if they are having breathing issues. 

Once your pet is safely in your vehicle, give our team a heads-up that you’re on your way with an emergency.

How to prepare for a pet emergency

While you can’t plan for every pet emergency, you can take several steps to prepare. First, program Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center’s phone number into your contact list. As a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital, our team is always here for you. Next, bookmark our blog post about performing pet first aid in an emergency. Knowing how to stabilize your pet prior to transport to our hospital is essential for ensuring the best outcome. By preparing for an emergency and remaining calm during a crisis, you can help provide life-saving care for your pet.

If your pet encounters an emergency situation, our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team is here for you, no matter the time of day or night. Call us for immediate care.