How Do I Know When My Pet Needs Emergency Care?

veterinary emergenciesWe have all been there.  It is midnight on a Saturday and something is not quite right with yourself/your child/your pet.  But is it urgent enough to warrant emergency services or can it wait until Monday morning?  Pet emergency centers have staff on hand that can help you decide whether you need to bring your pet in and are happy to talk through the symptoms with you. If you are debating whether to phone your regular veterinarian or wait, here are handy guidelines:

  • Vomiting/diarrhea:  If these things occur more than once or are accompanied by blood or any signs of illness such as fever, lethargy, or anorexia, it is better to have your pet checked out.  Dehydration can occur quickly, especially in small or young animals.
  • Wounds:  Anything that is bleeding, has a discharge, or is deeper than a superficial scrape should be checked out immediately.  This includes punctures and burns.
  • Urine troubles:  Blood in the urine or difficulty/straining to urinate is an emergency that should be addressed as soon as possible.
  • Fever:  A rectal temperature that is greater than 103oF warrants investigation.
  • Not eating:  Anorexia that persists for greater than 24 hours should not be ignored.
  • Breathing problems:  A pet that is panting, coughing, or otherwise seems short of breath should be looked at immediately.
  • Eye troubles:  Any sign of an eye problem such as squinting, tearing, or redness should not wait, as eye issues can turn serious at the drop of a hat.
  • Sudden lameness:  Not putting weight on a limb or a new lameness can indicate a serious problem.
  • Trauma:  Don’t wait after a pet is hit by a car or falls.  Even if it seems fine, there may be internal injuries that don’t show up until it is too late.
  • Ingestion of a foreign body or toxin:  If you are not sure if it might be a problem, don’t hesitate to call and ask.
  • Seizures:  If it is your pet’s first seizure, it is having back-to-back seizures or seizures are lasting longer than 3 minutes, your pet should be seen.
  • Trouble delivering puppies/kittens:  If your pet has been in active labor for longer than an hour without progress or if it has been greater than 3 hours since the last baby was delivered, your pet may need help.
  • “Just not right”:  When in doubt, call.  Signs of a problem can include (but are not limited to) a bloated abdomen, collapsing, weakness or lethargy, pale gums, pain, or a change in behavior.

Long story short, if your pet is experiencing a symptom on this list or you’re very concerned, don’t hesitate to call us!  We are here to help you when you need it most, and are happy to answer your questions and take care of your pet whenever needed.  If there is no need for immediate treatment and you can monitor the problem at home or you can wait to see your regular veterinarian, we’ll let you know that. Sometimes, though, seemingly minor problems can become serious quickly, so please contact us if you are concerned about your pet’s health. We’re here for you 24 hours a day.