Help! Does my pet need emergency care?

Your pet can't tell you when they need emergency care, and it isn't always obvious straight away. Which makes it hard for pet parents to know when a trip to the emergency vet is called for. Here are some guidelines from our Memphis vets to help you decide. 

How do I know if my pet needs Emergency Care?

A situation that requiring emergency veterinary care could occur at any time - day or night - and you'll need to be prepared.

But it can be challenging for even the most attentive pet parents to know when their dog, cat, or other pet is in need of emergency care. That's why knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate an emergency health issue is happening to your pet is helpful. If you still aren't sure, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for advice.

Signs That Your Animal is Experiencing a Medical Emergency

A pet emergency can take countless forms from accidents to ingestions, injuries to the sudden onset of disease. Below are some of the most common signs that it's time take your cat or dog to the emergency vet:

  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Severe injury (car accidents, broken bones, gashes)
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Obvious pain
  • Loss of balance
  • Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye

Basic First Aid for Animals

It is essential to note that performing basic first aid on your pet is not intended to replace veterinary care, it is solely to stabilize your animal for a trip to your emergency vet.

Stop Bleeding

Muzzle your pet before beginning first aid. To help stop the bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury, applying pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins. A tourniquet of gauze with an elastic band to secure it will be required for severe leg bleeding. Immediately bring your pet to the veterinary clinic. 

Coping With Seizures

If your pet is having a seizure do not attempt to restrain them. Try to remove objects that may hurt your pet. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet. 

Dealing With Fractures

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.

If Your Pet Is Choking

Dogs, cats and other pets may bite out of panic, so it's important to be cautious. Try to check your pet's mouth for objects and try to remove it 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 continuing to try. Immediately bring your pet to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic for care.

Be Prepared For a Veterinary Emergency

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 Memphis 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

Financial Responsibilities

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 in order to avoid emergency fees could put your pet's life at risk. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is showing behaviors or symptoms you are concerned about, outside of your regular vet's hours, contact our Memphis animal hospital right away for urgent care.

Woman hugging her sad looking dog, Memphis Vet

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