It can be a difficult decision to decide if your pet’s health problem is  life threatening and needs emergency care,  If you are ever in any doubt, always contact your vet for their advice. We would much rather you called and asked for advice instead of worrying about your pet.*This blog is NOT intended to replace veterinary care.  It is simply a starting guide for your information.  It is always recommended to contact your veterinarian.

1. Trauma

Trauma cases can include getting hit by a car, falls, bite wounds,  and gunshot wounds to name a few.  Sometimes it can be difficult to know the severity of internal trauma so we would recommend your pet is seen as soon as possible following trauma even if they appear fine at the time of the injury.  A phone call to the vet’s office before arriving can help the team prepare for your pet’s arrival.  If the injuries are severe, an emergency referral clinic may be the best place for your pet’s care.  In either case, it is recommended they be seen.


2. Collapse/Unconsciousness

If at any time your pet loses consciousness or has the inability to get up on their own, it is highly recommended that they be seen as soon as possible.  There are many reasons that an animal can collapse and it is important to find out the reason behind it quickly.  Heart problems, hemorrhage, toxins, anemia, and  neurological conditions are just a few.  Again, a phone call to your veterinarian is recommended to prepare them for your arrival.


3. Trouble breathing

If your pet is not breathing or is having trouble breathing, they need to be seen as soon as possible. In cats, open-mouth breathing is also a concern. If you notice that your pet’s gums/lip color is blue-purple, they should be seen.  Breathing problems can result from something being stuck in the throat, allergic reactions, asthma, heart disease or lung disease. Breathing problems potentially life-threatening so get your pet seen as soon as possible.  An emergency clinic will be the best facility for your pet.  If you are unable to make it to an emergency clinic, call your regular vet so they can prepare for your pet’s arrival.


4.  Unable to pass urine

If you have a male cat, this is a life threatening emergency that needs to be seen as soon as possible.   If you have a dog or  female cat that is unable to pass urine at all, this is also an  emergency that needs to be seen.  If your pet is passing small amounts of urine, seems to be urinating more frequently , or is passing blood in the urine then they should also be seen but not necessarily as an emergency situation.  A phone call to your regular vet can get them scheduled to be seen as soon as possible to bring them relief and find out the cause of the urinary issue.  If you are not sure if they are passing urine or not, a phone call to your veterinarian is necessary and they may have your bring them in to be checked immediately.


5. Poison

If you see your pet ingest something poisonous, they should be checked out.  The most common calls that we get are chocolate ingestion, antifreeze ingestion, rat poison ingestion, and ingestion of a plant of some kind.   An immediate call to your veterinarian is recommended because they may be able to give advice over the phone to help induce vomiting to get the poison out as soon as possible before it can be absorbed by the body.  However, inducing vomiting is not always the best solution, so a phone call to the vet is recommended.  There is also a pet poison hotline that you can call for advice: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435    A visit to your veterinary may be necessary for follow up care.

6. Dystocia (trouble with giving birth)

Dog Emergencies – when to contact your vet:

  • your dog goes into labor and you notice that more than two hours has passed without any puppies being born.
  • she has a green discharge from the vagina without puppies having been born.
  • it is more than two hours between puppies
  • if she is continually straining for a few minutes with a puppy or fluid filled bubble stuck in the birth canal.
  • your dog has intense contractions/straining for more than 20 minutes without a puppy being delivered
  • if your dog is depressed, lethargic or her body temperature is more than 103 degrees
  • if she is bleeding from the vagina for more than ten minutes.

Cat Kittening Emergencies – when to contact your vet:

  • Your cat has twenty minutes of intense labor and does not produce a kitten.
  • It is more than two hours between kittens
  • Ten minutes of intense labor does not expel a kitten seen at the cat’s vulva.
  • If gentle traction on the trapped fetus causes the cat pain.
  • Your cat is depressed, lethargic or has a fever (rectal temperature  >103°F).
  • There is fresh blood loss from her vulva for more than ten minutes.


7. Seizures

If your pet has one seizure (if they fall over and have convulsions, uncontrollable shaking, loss of control of urine/bowels, seem “out of it” after) and no other seizures, a phone call to your regular veterinarian is highly recommended to schedule an exam and often some bloodwork to rule out any concerns.  Documentation of seizures is recommended for you (when did the seizure happen, how long did it last).   If your pet is having a seizure that will not stop, or if they have multiple seizures back to back, it is recommended that they be seen as an emergency, so that a veterinarian may help stop the seizures.  Follow up appointments and treatments may be necessary for your pet, depending on the cause of the seizures, the frequency of the seizures, and the severity of their seizures.

8. Eye problems

Eye  problems can worsen quickly and if left untreated can result in blindness or loss of the eye. Signs of ocular disease include redness of the eye, discharge, excessive tearing, swelling, squinting or a closed eye and constant pawing at the eye. Even if it is just a foreign body in the eye or a superficial scratch on the cornea prompt veterinary treatment can prevent a minor problem from becoming a serious one. Calling your veterinarian is recommended.

9. Stings/bites/allergic reactions

Typically with a sting or allergic reaction you will notice hives or a swollen face.  Some hives will cause itching in your pet, although not always.  If your pet is showing signs of distress or trouble breathing, they should be seen as an emergency.  If they seem to be comfortable, a phone call to your veterinarian is recommended to find out their advice on your pet’s care.

This is just a list of the most common emergencies that we deal with regularly.  If at anytime you feel your pet should be seen, it is highly recommended that you call before you arrive at your vet’s office.  Sometimes a referral or emergency clinic will be recommended for the best care for your pet.