If your pet is ill or injured, you know it’s time to head in for veterinary care. But what about those on-the-fence issues? Your pet may get better overnight, or they may take a turn for the worse. When in doubt about whether your pet needs to be seen by our Animal Care and Emergency Services veterinarian, give us a call. We can triage your pet’s condition over the phone, and offer guidance on whether or not they can wait. However, a few signs always indicate that your pet needs urgent veterinary care. If your four-legged friend is in one of the following 10 situations, call us immediately.
#1: Your pet is bleeding
A minor scratch can be bandaged and wait for care, but if you apply pressure for three minutes and the wound continues to bleed, veterinary attention is necessary. In addition, blood in the urine, stool, or vomit or bleeding from the nose or mouth, all also require immediate veterinary care.
#2: Your pet is straining to urinate
If your pet is struggling or unable to urinate, they need to be seen promptly. Pets can develop a urinary blockage, and death can occur in 24 to 48 hours once they’re unable to urinate. A common misconception is that a pet is trying to defecate when they’re actually straining to urinate, so monitor your pet’s bathroom habits closely, particularly if they’re a male cat.
#3: Your pet’s stomach is rock hard and bloated
Large- and giant-breed dogs with deep chests are at an increased risk for developing bloat and gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). However, any pet can become bloated and suffer from their stomach flipping on itself, which is a life-threatening emergency. If your pet is attempting to vomit, but not producing anything, and their stomach is round and tight, head immediately to the closest veterinary hospital.
#4: Your pet is in pain
While pain is not life-threatening, and gauging your pet’s pain level can be tough—particularly if they’re stoic—pain can indicate a more serious problem. Limping, whining, whimpering, irritability, and hiding are common cues that indicate your furry pal is painful. Your pet may also refuse to eat or join in their favorite activities if they’re uncomfortable.
#5: Your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea
A bout or two of vomiting or diarrhea isn’t a huge cause for concern, but excessive or prolonged gastrointestinal issues need veterinary attention. Without prompt treatment, your pet can become dehydrated. If you’re unsure how much vomiting and diarrhea is too much, contact our Animal Care and Emergency Services team for guidance.
#6: Your pet is having difficulty breathing
If your pet is breathing more heavily than their normal regular panting, or they’re breathing more rapidly, or with increased effort, they need medical attention. Blue or purple gums and tongue color, which indicate your pet is not getting enough oxygen, are also cause for concern. Flat-faced breeds, like pugs, bulldogs, and Persians, are more apt to develop serious respiratory disorders.
#7: Your pet encountered a toxin
Toxic substances, ranging from chocolate and chemicals, to plants and pest poisons, can take time to cause visible illness signs, but they should be treated immediately after contact. If your four-legged friend encounters a potentially toxic substance, contact an animal poison control hotline to determine if the substance is a threat, and what to do next.
#8: Your pet is suffering from heatstroke
Heatstroke can rapidly become life-threatening, despite relatively mild weather conditions. Humidity and high temperatures can cause your pet to pant heavily, drool thick ropes of saliva, stagger, collapse, and suffer seizures. At the first hint of overheating, get your pet indoors into a cooled spot, and contact our team.
#9: Your pet is having a seizure
Seizures, whether a pet’s first, or they have epilepsy, can be scary for a pet owner to witness. Your pet’s first seizure could be an emergency if they came in contact with a toxic substance, or are suffering from another illness. If your pet has been diagnosed with epilepsy, and they’re having multiple or prolonged seizures, rush them to your nearest veterinary hospital to halt the seizure activity.
#10: Your pet had a traumatic accident
If your pet was struck by a car or in a fight with another animal, they could have injuries that are much more serious than they appear. Internal bleeding, a ruptured bladder, or other hidden issue could cause your pet to crash hours after an incident, so contact our team for help without delay.
If you’re unsure whether your pet’s condition counts as an emergency, contact our Animal Care and Emergency Services team for advice. It’s better to ask, than to wait and see if your furry friend gets better on their own.