What is and isn’t an emergency with your beloved four-legged friend? Our pets are family members, and we understandably worry if they are having a health problem. When in doubt, call us at Somerset Animal Hospital. Our team can triage your pet’s situation and provide guidance on whether they need to be seen on an emergency basis, or can wait for a regular appointment. Here are 10 pet emergency situations that may require immediate veterinary care. 

#1: Trauma to pets

Any sudden injury to your pet is frightening, and requires immediate medical evaluation. If your pet is hit by a car, they must be seen right away, whether or not they are walking and appear uninjured. If your pet is attacked by another animal, the wounds may be deeper than you can see through their hair. An emergency examination can detect the external and internal damage your pet experienced from the trauma, and provide them with the most appropriate medical treatment.   

#2: Pets with breathing difficulties

A pet with an occasional cough may be able to wait for a regular appointment, but if they start choking, stretching their neck to breathe, breathing open-mouthed, or coughing non-stop, they need to be seen immediately. If your pet’s gums are pale, blue-tinged, or gray, they are in critical danger. 

#3: Pets who are straining to urinate 

Pets with urinary tract infections may urinate more frequently, but they require immediate medical care if they are unproductively straining to urinate. This is especially true for male cats, who can develop a life-threatening urinary blockage, and a toxin buildup in their body. Urinary blockages are less common in dogs, but can occur if they have bladder stones or cancer. 

#4: Toxin ingestion in pets

If you think your pet has eaten something toxic, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline or Pet Poison Hotline is available 24 hours a day. The following toxic substances may require immediate medical treatment for your pet: 

  • Rat, ant, or snail bait
  • Human medications
  • Human foods such as grapes, raisins, xylitol, onions, garlic, or protein bars
  • Chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate
  • Household items such as paint, glue, or cleaning products 
  • Insecticides and garden products

#5: Pets who vomit or have diarrhea 

Pets can vomit or have diarrhea on occasion, especially if they eat something unusual. However, blood in your pet’s vomit or stool is an urgent situation, because this can progress to anemia, sepsis, or shock. Unproductive retching can be a sign of bloat, a condition where the pet’s abdomen will feel hard and distended, and which is more common in larger dogs. Bloat can quickly become fatal, and requires immediate emergency care.  

#6: Seizuring pets

A seizure is an electrical disturbance in the brain, and may have no apparent cause (i.e., idiopathic), or be caused by a metabolic disorder, toxin, or brain lesion. If your pet has one short seizure, call us immediately to discuss their condition. If they have a seizure lasting for longer than two minutes, or multiple seizures in one day, they need emergency medical treatment.

#7: Spinal injuries in pets

If your pet is walking like they are drunk, unable to use their hindlimbs, or holding their head down with a hunched back, they may have spinal cord compression caused by a blood clot or herniated disc. Treating this condition immediately will provide your pet a better chance for recovery. 

#8: Pain in pets

The sudden onset of severe lameness can be an emergency, but first, check your pet’s feet for thorns or other foreign material. Abdominal pain can have a number of causes, including pancreatitis, ingesting a toy or other object, or secondary to pain in another body area. If your pet cries out when touched or cannot move, they are in severe pain and need immediate medical care. 

#9: Pets with eye injuries

Eyes are extremely sensitive, and any injuries can be an emergency. If your pet is squinting or pawing at their eye, they could have a scratched cornea or something stuck under the eyelid. Red or cloudy eyes can indicate a corneal injury, or glaucoma, which is a painful condition that may lead to blindness. 

#10: Allergic reactions in pets

Your pet can develop itching or hives if they have an allergic reaction to an insect sting. Allergic reactions may progress to facial swelling, difficulty breathing, or collapse from anaphylaxis, and should be evaluated right away. 

Watch out especially for these ten pet emergencies, but our furry friends can get into all kinds of trouble. If you think you have an emergency with your pet, contact our Somerset Animal Hospital team to guide you on the urgency of the situation, and allow us to provide the best medical care for your pet.