The Key Things to Do in a Pet Emergency
All pet owners know there will come time in your pet’s life when it will need Emergency veterinary care. So, have a plan in place, as it can save your pet’s life in such emergencies.
When it happens, and it surely will, the last thing to be thinking about is where to go for help and how to get to the Emergency clinic.
Minutes may count, so prudence means “be prepared”.
Just as important as knowing where to go in an Emegency is knowing when to seek Emergency care.
When in doubt, contact your veterinarian or Emergency veterinary clinic immediately. It is best to err on the side of caution.
- Life-threatening conditions often involve organ failure, sepsis (full-body infection) or bloat, which is a condition in which a dog’s stomach becomes distended and twists around on itself.
- Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC) is another life-threatening condition, in this case a bleeding disorder that may result from infection or autoimmune disease.
Below is a list of 13 Animal emergencies that require immediate care, as follows:
The medical conditions, symptoms and scenarios described below, compiled by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), warrant emergency veterinary attention.
The list is not an all-inclusive list, but if you notice any of the following, take your pet to an Emergency veterinary clinic immediately.
- Severe bleeding or bleeding that does not stop within 5 minutes
- Choking, difficulty breathing or nonstop coughing and gagging
- Bleeding from nose, mouth or rectum; coughing up blood or blood in urineInability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
- Injuries to your pet’s eye/s
- You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous, such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.
- Seizures and/or staggering
- Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s)
- Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety
- Heat stress or heatstroke
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea; more than 2 episodes in a 24-hr period
- Either of #10 combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here
- Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more
In addition, add the following true medical emergencies to this list, as follows:
- Penetrating wounds to the chest, including deep lacerations or punctures
- A fever over 104F with profound lethargy
- Bulging eyes and sudden blindness
- Burns or injuries in which a bone is exposed
- Loss of balance and/or inability to maintain balance
As a responsible pet owner it is down to you not to wait for a real medical emergency to start thinking about Emergency care.
AVMA recommends knowing the following 7 things in advance to be ready to act in the event of an actual emergency.
- Your vet’s emergency phone number
- The local emergency clinic number
- How to get to the emergency clinic
- Poison Control number (888-426-4435)
- How to perform basic CPR on your pet
- How to stop bleeding/apply a basic pressure wrap
- How to muzzle your pet in order to keep an injured pet from biting with a homemade muzzle
Veterinary Emergency care experts recommend a 6-step E-Action plan to help prepare in advance in the event you ever need to take your pet to an Emergency veterinary clinic, as follows:
- Deciding which emergency clinic to use
- Visiting the clinic, or if that’s not possible, making a phone call to gather specific information
- Deciding how you will pay for emergency services. These are the days of Instant Payments for services, have your credit or debit card ready.
- Learning about any special policies or procedures the clinic has in place
- Creating an emergency file to keep on hand
- Deciding ahead of time how you feel about difficult subjects like invasive procedures, resuscitation and euthanasia
We all know that it can be difficult to determine when your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately and when it is to wait until the next morning or later in the week.
In many cases, a responsible pet owner can go with his/her instinct.
If a pet is suffering severely, in pain, unable to perform basic functions like walking, breathing normally or eliminating, or becomes unresponsive or severely agitated, immediate care is required.
More often pet owners are encounter situations that require urgent care, such as within the next 12 hours, but not necessarily a trip to an Emergency clinic.
Examples of such conditions that require urgent care, such as your veterinarian’s next available appointment are, as follows:
- Mild diarrhea
- Low-grade fever
- Choking, all pet owners should be prepared for this
In most Emergency situations, it’s best to get to a clinic as soon as possible. If your pet is choking, and its life is in immediate danger, taking matters into your own hands could save your pet’s life.
Choking is most common among dogs, though may also happen in cats. If you have a dog, in particular, the experts suggest becoming familiar with how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.
It is relatively simple and could save a pet’s life.
Once the object is cleared from your pet’s airway, get him to your veterinarian or an Emergency clinic immediately. Another tool you can learn now to potentially save your pet’s life in an emergency is CPR. The American Red Cross offers classes in many areas that allow you to receive hands-on training with an animal mannequin.
Hopefully you will never need to use the tips provided here, but as we all know no one ever expects an Emergency. Taking a few mins now to get prepared can make the difference.
Have a safe and sane 4th of July Holiday weekend.
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