Pet Care Tips and Articles

How To Recognize An Emergency

There may come a time when your pet needs immediate care outside the normal operating hours of your regular veterinarian.

You know your pet and his normal habits and behavior better than anyone, but you may be unsure if your pet needs emergency care. Following are some signs you can look for that will help you determine if you are dealing with an urgent situation.

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Changes in behavior are often a sure sign that there is something going on that needs to be treated immediately. Sudden shifts in demeanor such as extreme aggression or severe lethargy and unresponsiveness can indicate a hidden problem.

Another change in behavior that can indicate an emergency is disorientation. If your pet has a bewildered look, appears confused or disoriented, is bumping into things or collapses, this is a sign of a bigger problem and your pet should be seen in the ER.

Vomiting or diarrhea may not be cause for immediate concern, but many episodes of vomiting or diarrhea in a short period of time indicates an emergency. Problems urinating and/or defecating and blood in the urine or stool is also a sign that your pet needs to be seen quickly.

Rapid, shallow, noisy or difficulty breathing is a sure sign of an emergency. And if you think your pet has a fever he should be seen in the ER. A fever in a dog is 103 degrees and in a cat it is anything over 102.5.

In addition, your pet should be seen quickly if he:

  • Is in pain, crying out or whimpering
  • Has a swollen or hard abdomen
  • Is having a difficult labor
  • Ingests any type of poison
  • Experiences convulsion or seizures
  • Experiences a trauma (hit by a car)
  • Has a puncture wound
  • Is acting strangely or in any way that appears out of the ordinary.

If you feel that your pet may be experiencing an emergency, take him to an experienced veterinarian. Remember to remain calm and know that your animal friend will be in good hands.

- Jeannie McKnight, DVM - Animal Emergency + Urgent Care