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When to Take A Dog or Cat to the Emergency Vet

It may be surprising, but it isn't always obvious when your pet needs urgent emergency care. 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.

But it can be challenging for even the most attentive pet parents to know when their dog, cat, or other pet needs 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.

When to Visit an Emergency Vet

Accidents, eating something harmful, injuries, and the sudden onset of disease are all examples of pet emergencies. The following are some of the most common signs that it's 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

Before you begin, muzzle your pet. Place a clean gauze over the injury and apply pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting starts. For severe leg bleeding, a gauze tourniquet with an elastic band might be needed. Bring your pet to the emergency clinic right away.

Coping With Seizures

Don’t attempt to restrain your pet, but do try to remove objects that may hurt them. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet or emergency veterinarian. 

Dealing With Fractures

Your dog or cat should be muzzled. To bring them to the vet, place them on a flat surface that can be used as a makeshift stretcher. Secure your pet to the stretcher as much as possible without putting pressure on the injured area.

If Your Pet Is Choking

Because your pet may bite in fear, you need to be extra careful around them. If possible, check your pet's mouth for foreign objects and remove them. Take care not to push the object further down your pet’s throat. If this isn't possible, don't waste your time trying again. Bring your pet to the veterinarians’s office or an emergency veterinary clinic right away.

Be Prepared For a Veterinary Emergency

The following details how you can be prepared if a veterinary emergency should arise.

What You Should Know in Advance

You never know when an emergency will happen. But being prepared for one can help you provide the best possible care to your cat or dog 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

How much does an emergency vet cost?

Because of the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment required, emergency care can be expensive. It is a pet owner's responsibility to make sure that they can financially care for their pet in an emergency.

Prepare for unforeseeable events by setting aside money for emergencies or enrolling in a pet insurance plan. Putting off veterinary care to avoid emergency fees could 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 or bring your pet straight over to a 24/7 emergency animal clinic for urgent veterinary care.

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