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Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Care & What to Do

It may be surprising, but it isn't always obvious when your dog or cat has an emergency Today, our Mechanicsburg vets share some of the signs that could indicate that it's time to head to the emergency animal hospital. 

How do I know if my pet needs emergency care?

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

However, even the most attentive pet parents may struggle to recognize when their dog, cat, or other pet requires emergency care. That is why knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate an emergency health issue in your pet is beneficial. If you're still unsure, seek advice from your veterinarian or an emergency vet clinic.

Signs That Your Dog or Cat Needs an Emergency Vet

Accidents, ingestions, injuries, and the onset of disease are all examples of pet emergencies. The following are some of the most common indications that it is time to visit the emergency veterinarian:

  • 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

Please 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

Pets should be muzzled before we begin. Place a fresh gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure with your hand for a few minutes until blood clotting starts to help stop the bleeding. For severe leg bleeding, a gauze tourniquet with an elastic band will be necessary. Bring your animal as soon as possible to the vet's office.

Coping With Seizures

Do not attempt to restrain your pet. 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

Your pet needs a muzzle. In order to transport your pet to the veterinarian, lay them out on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher. Avoid applying pressure to the injured area when securing your animal to the stretcher.

If Your Pet Is Choking

Being cautious is essential because your pet might bite in a panic. If you can, try to remove any objects that may be in your pet's mouth by checking for them. Be mindful to prevent unintentionally inserting the object deeper into your animal's throat. Do not waste your time trying to accomplish this if it is too difficult. Bring your animal companion to a veterinary clinic or urgent care facility right away.

Be Prepared For a Veterinary Emergency

What You Should Know in Advance

You never know when an emergency will strike, but being prepared for a pet emergency can help you provide the best possible care to your animal as quickly as possible. Our Mechanicsburg veterinarians recommend keeping the following items on 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

Emergency veterinary care can be costly due to the extensive diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment required. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to ensure that they can financially care for their pet in an emergency.

Prepare for unforeseeable events by putting money aside specifically for emergencies or by enrolling in a pet insurance plan. Putting off veterinary care to avoid emergency fees may endanger your pet's life.

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 experiencing a medical emergency in the Mechanicsburg area, contact us right away.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center you never need an appointment to access our full complement of emergency services. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

Contact Us

Contact (717) 796-2334