Despite our best efforts, our pets can become injured and require emergency care. Our Novato vets are here to talk about when emergency care might be warranted and how to prepare for them.
How do I know if my pet needs Emergency Care?
Situations that warrant emergency or urgent care can happen unexpectedly and at any time, and it is wise to be prepared for and when it might happen to your pet.
Knowing when your cat or dog is in need of emergency care from their vet isn't always obvious, so you'll need to be aware of some signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency vet is necessary. If you're in doubt, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for help.
Signs of a Pet Emergency
- Dilated pupils
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
- Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
- Loss of balance
- Obvious pain
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Inflammation or injury to the eye
- Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
- Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
- Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
Basic First Aid
Please keep in mind that administering first aid on your pet does not replace the need for veterinary care. It is simply a way to stabilize your pet for transport to the emergency vet.
Start with muzzling your pet. Place a clean gauze pad over the injury, applying pressure with your hand until blood clotting begins (usually several minutes). Severe leg bleeding requires a tourniquet of gauze and an elastic band to secure it, bring your pet to the vet immediately.
Remove objects that may hurt your pet. Do not attempt to restrain them. Keep your pet warm after the seizure is over and phone your vet.
Muzzle your pet. Lay them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. Secure them to the stretcher if possible, avoiding the injured area.
Be cautious, your pet may bite out of panic. Look for objects in their mouth and try to remove it if possible, but be careful to not accidentally push the object further into the throat. Don't waste time on this if it's difficult, you could be losing precious time. Bring your pet to the vet immediately.
What You Should Know in Advance
Our vets recommend preparing and having the following available in case of an emergency:
- The phone number for your vet's office
- Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic or ER for pets
- The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
- The phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
- Knowledge of basic CPR for pets
- Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
- How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others
Emergency care for your pet can be expensive due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment necessary. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure you can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.
It might be easier to plan ahead for unforeseeable circumstances with savings set aside for emergencies, or pet insurance plans. Delays in care to avoid emergency fees may put your pet's life at risk, so it's important to take this into consideration when becoming a pet owner.