How do I know if my pet needs emergency care?
Circumstances that require emergency veterinary care can happen at any time day or night, and you'll need to be prepared if or when it happens to you and your pet.
It can sometimes be a challenge to decide when your dog, cat or other pet needs emergency care. That's why having a mental checklist of some of the signs and symptoms that should prompt you to consult your vet's emergency services is helpful.
If you assess your pet's health for the following and still aren't sure, contact your vet or local emergency vet clinic for guidance.
- Loss of balance
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Ingestion of poisonous foods, plants, bones or substances
- Swollen, bloated or painful abdomen
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Dilated pupils
- Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
- Extreme coughing, choking or difficulty breathing
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Severe injury (car accidents, broken bones, open wounds, falls)
- Sudden staggering, stumbling or blindness
- Eye inflammation or injury
Basic First Aid
Please keep in mind that performing basic first aid on your pet is intended to stabilize your animal until you arrive at your vet's office. It is not intended to replace veterinary care.
Before starting, muzzle your pet. Place a clean gauze pad over the injury to help quell bleeding, then use your hand to apply pressure for several minutes until blood begins to clot. For severe leg bleeding, use a tourniquet of gauze with an elastic band to secure it. Bring your pet to the veterinary clinic right away.
Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Try to remove objects that may hurt your pet. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet.
Muzzle your pet. Lay your pet on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If possible, secure your animal to the stretcher, avoiding putting pressure on the injured area.
Your pet may bite out of panic, so it's important to be cautious. Check your pet's mouth for objects and try to remove them if possible. Be careful to not accidentally push the object further into your animal's throat. If this is too difficult, don't waste precious time trying. Immediately transport your pet to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic for care.
What You Should Know in Advance
You never know when an emergency might strike, but being prepared for a pet emergency may help you to provide your animal with the best possible care quickly. Our Gilbert vets suggest keeping the following at hand 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
- How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others
- Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
- Knowledge of basic pet CPR
- Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
Due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment required, emergency veterinary care can be expensive. It is a pet owner's responsibility to ensure that they can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.
Prepare for unforeseeable circumstances by putting money aside specifically for emergencies, or by signing up for a pet insurance plan. Putting off veterinary care to avoid emergency fees could put your pet's life at risk.