Pets, like people, can sometimes suffer from conditions that require immediate emergency intervention. Our Beacon vets explain what situations warrant dog and cat emergency care and what to do when that happens.
Contact your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic immediately
if your pet is having an emergency.
How do I know if my Dog or Cat needs an Emergency Vet?
Situations that require emergency care can occur at any time, day or night, and you'll need to be prepared for if - or when - it happens to your pet.
Knowing when your pet requires emergency care isn't always easy, so be aware of the signs and symptoms that indicate that a trip to the Emergency Vet is required. If you're unsure, seek assistance from your veterinarian or an emergency vet clinic.
Signs of a Pet Emergency
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
- Dilated pupils
- Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Obvious pain
- Loss of balance
- Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
- Inflammation or injury to the eye
- Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
Basic First Aid
Please be aware that attempting first aid on your pet is not intended to replace veterinary care, it is solely to stabilize your pet for a trip to your vet or emergency clinic.
Begin by muzzling your pet. Apply pressure with your hand to a clean gauze pad over the injury until blood clotting begins (usually several minutes). Bring your pet to the veterinarian right away if there is severe leg bleeding that requires a gauze tourniquet and an elastic band to secure it.
Remove objects that may hurt your pet. Do not attempt to restrain them. Keep your pet warm after the seizure is over and phone your vet.
Muzzle your pet. Lay them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. Secure them to the stretcher if possible, avoiding the injured area.
Be careful; your pet may bite in fear. Look for foreign objects in their mouth and try to remove them if possible, but be careful not to push the object deeper into their throat. If it's difficult, don't waste time on it; you could be wasting valuable time. Bring your pet to the veterinarian right away.
What You Should Know in Advance
Our vets recommend preparing and having the following available 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
- Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
- Knowledge of basic CPR for pets
- Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
- How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others
Emergency care for your pet can be expensive due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment necessary. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure you can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.
With emergency savings or pet insurance plans, it may be easier to plan ahead for unforeseeable circumstances. Delays in care to avoid emergency fees may jeopardize your pet's life, so it's important to consider this when purchasing a pet.