Let me be perfectly clear:
If your pet is seizing, not functioning, not breathing, or not even conscious, go to the nearest emergency veterinarian immediately!
I’m not kidding. I’m shocked every day by the emergencies that people misjudge and their pet suffers tremendously and/or dies.
A Special Note About Poisoning
If you think maybe your pet ate something, chewed something, rolled in something toxic. Or if your pet is seizing, semi or not-conscious, or having trouble breathing, go right to the emergency hospital and call on the way over. If your pet is not exhibiting these signs, or you are not sure about a certain poison, read VirtuaVet’s advice regarding Poisonings and Toxicities.
Reasons to Take a Pet to the Emergency Room
First of all, think of your pet as yourself. If whatever (fill in the blank) horrible thing had just happened to you, you would want Painkillers at the very least:
- Hit by car
- Fell off balcony
- stereo dropped on your head
- trapped in flat screen television cables for an hour howling in terror
- broke your leg
- fell out of the car
- near-drowning in pool
- chewed electrical cord
- had a seizure
- in a coma, not moving, you don’t have any idea why
- passed out and managed to wake up on your own
- fell out of tree
- can’t open one or both eyes
- bitten by rattlesnake, scorpion, black widow spider
- ate poison, or drugs (pot, tylenol, fentanyl lollipop, etc, etc,etc)
- ate sharp objects
- can’t pass a puppy when birthing (don’t imagine that’s you- they didn’t even do that in Dr. Who!)
These are just examples I’ve seen where people have waited for days. I can only imagine the pain and frustration and loneliness their pet felt! If your pet is very young, old, or already diagnosed with a medical condition, go to the e.r. sooner than later!
Doc Truli has seen it all in the ER. “The #1 reason for pets to go to the emergency room is vomiting and diarrhea, with or without blood in it. The diagnosis for these problems at the emergency room is often 10 different things in 10 different pets. #2 in America is being hit by a car,” reminisces the Doc.
Standard Reasons to Take Your Pet to the Emergency Room
The standard list of emergencies I taught to the Marblehead, Massachusetts Boy Scouts (and they got them all right!):
- Bleeding profusely
- vomiting more than 4-6 times in 24 hours
- ate medications or poisons or household cleaners
- cannot urinate, or also, meowing and going in and out of the pan for hours
- eye trauma, eye redness, eye discharge (pets get glaucoma)
- seizures, especially if they last more than 5 minutes, or repeat 2+ times in 24 hours
- broke something (or limping painfully/not sure)
- suddenly swollen body part
- attacked and bitten by another animal (get rabies vaccine info!)
- deep cuts
- lots of porcupine quills, fishhooks embedded, chain collars knotted together at neck, luggage clip trapped on toe
- trying to retch and nothing coming up, pacing, cannot sit or lie down, uncomfortable- your dog will be dead if you wait even 12 hours!
- foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- extreme tiredness for no reason
- constant coughing, tongue lavender – blue
- paralysis (believe it or not, people wait, no kidding! Not good…)
- shooting or stabbing
- panting cat
- super painful ear (won’t kill your pet, but should be seen to eliminate pain!) –
- allergic reactions (wheezing, hives, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, face or part swollen) –
- super painful “hot spots” I consider emergencies because they are very painful and your pet might injure herself chewing and scratching
There are a few things that generally are not emergencies
but I can’t say for certain in your case- use your common sense:
- Remember that paws, noses, tongues, and ears bleed like crazy even from tiny little spots. Hold pressure if you can for 15 minutes – no peeking! – and get a good look before you run to the e.r.
- Ticks are almost never an emergency, unless they cause tick paralysis– and with that, your dog is paralyzed all over (for real!) until you or the vet removes the offending tick(s)- check face, paws, and ears especially, remove just by pinching close to the skin and pulling in the direction of the tick, no alcohol, fire, petrol, etc. – these cause the tick to regurgitate diseases into your pet!
- Word to the wise- do not trim your pet’s nails when your vet is closed. If you cut too short and it does not stop bleeding, your emergency vet will make a fast buck helping you out. But this is a waste of veterinary sleep-time and money! Same goes for using the shaver or scissors to cut out hair matts. Once I sutured the chest on a retired veterinarian’s cat because she cut a big hole in the skin at midnight!
- If your pet is pregnant, probably no veterinary hospital or emergency room in the world has the personnel or time to birth the litter for you and watch the brood the first night. Plan ahead, educate yourself, hire a local pet nanny or midwife with experience (like your pet’s breeder). Or better yet, do not breed your pet, please! There are millions of extra cats and dogs in the U.S, euthanized at shelters each year – it happens to be about the same number as produced in puppy mills- hmmm… Some things, even in this modern, technological world, are still not available, no matter how much money you can pay.
Do not assume your pet is angry with you, go to the vet! Your Pet Is Sick!
- If you are worried that your pet vomited
- did not eat dinner
- would not come out of the closet when you came home
- seems tired
- personality changed
- urinating anywhere unusual or new
Go to the vet. Use your common sense. If you call the vet, they will try to assess severity over the phone. The more accurate and descriptive you are about everything coming in and going out of your pet (eating, drinking, poop, pee, vomit, coughing) the more the vet can help you, but ultimately, they will tell you to have your pet examined right away if you are not sure.
If your pet is in pain, not functioning, or not even conscious, go to the nearest emergency veterinarian immediately!
Still not sure? Go to the e.r.!!!!!
VirtuaVet’s Hyperlinked List of Pet Emergencies:
(great for school research projects)