As with any medical emergency, timing can be the difference between successful treatment and heartbreaking tragedy. This is equally true for a pet emergency, which is why knowing how to react in such a situation is crucial.
Pet emergencies come in a variety of forms, from an accidental poisoning to a bite sustained during a dogfight. Some veterinary emergencies are also less obvious than others, which makes knowing what to look for an important skill every pet owner should have.
Pet Emergency: Signs and Situations
Is it really an emergency? This is a question asked by many pet owners when confronted with an unexplained symptom or behavior. While each case is different, there are some symptoms that should never be ignored:
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting with or without diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- Blood in vomit, urine, or stool
- Unexplained bleeding
- Straining to urinate or frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Signs of pain (yowling, crying, isolating)
- Swelling or hardening of abdomen
- Choking or gagging
- Sudden lameness or lack of balance
- Visible signs of injury: fracture, wound, bite marks
- Encounter with a wild animal
Respond to these symptoms with a call to your veterinarian, who can help rule out what may or may not be an emergency situation.
If you witness an accident, treat it as an emergency. Although you may not see visible signs of injury, your pet may have sustained internal injuries or fractures and may be at risk for disease or infection.
Never hesitate to contact Long Animal Hospital should any of these symptoms or scenarios arise.
Create a Pet Emergency Plan
If your pet suddenly falls ill or is injured, it can be hard to focus to know how to proceed. That’s why having a pet emergency plan can be a lifesaver. Be sure to include the following:
- Medical records (including a list of medications and current vaccinations)
- Your veterinarian’s contact information
- Crate or carrier
- Extra leash, collar, and identification tags
- Pet first aid kit
- List of the nearest emergency veterinary clinics
- Additional items specific to a disaster evacuation
You may also want to take pet first aid and CPR classes, which are offered through the American Red Cross. They also offer a useful Pet First Aid app. Remember, first aid should not replace emergency veterinary care; however, it can help calm your pet and ensures he or she remains stable while you get help.
Although pet emergencies can be frightening, being prepared and knowing what to look for is your best bet for avoiding disaster.