What is a pet emergency?

Unfortunately, accidents and illness happens with our furry family members, and often at the most inopportune time. Though we have no way of knowing when these events will occur, we can be prepared and have a plan in place, should an emergency arise.

How do you know when to call or when to take your pet for emergency or medical care? You know your pet best. If you are concerned about your pet, you are NEVER wrong to call. Here are some guidelines when you SHOULD seek immediate medical help for your pet.

General Guidelines
Any problem that persists longer than 24 hours
Any problem that worsens over several hours
Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more
Body temperature less than 100° F or greater than 104° F
Unconsciousness
Choking, difficulty breathing, or nonstop coughing or gagging
Seizures
Inability to urinate or pass stool, or pain accompanied with urination or defecation

Gastrointestinal Problems
Frequent bouts of vomiting or diarrhea resulting in loss of large volumes of fluid
Inability to drink or keep water down
Blood or black material (digested blood) in the vomit or stool
Vomiting followed by ingestion of foreign material (toys, rocks, garbage, etc.)
Suspected poisoning
Suspected bloat (in large dogs)

Bleeding
Bleeding from any body cavity (nose, mouth, anus)
Bleeding accompanied by bruising of the skin, especially the abdominal skin
Bleeding that can’t be stopped by pressure application
When you think blood loss has been excessive
Weakness, difficulty breathing, or reluctance to move after a bleeding episode

Lameness
Obvious fracture of a limb
Nonweight-bearing lameness persisting more than 12 hours
Paralysis of one or more limbs
Lameness that initially improves but does not resolve in 24 to 48 hours

Other Emergencies
Trauma
Venomous snakebite or attack by another animal
Heatstroke or heat stress
Eye injuries

The best way to deal with pet emergencies is to be prepared. Please have our number handy. For after hours emergencies or concerns, we recommend Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospital (919-489-0615) and Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas (919-600-6600). Both of these hospitals are located in Durham and are open 24 hours.

(Information for this article provided by the following sources: ASPCA, DogWatch, AAHA, and AVMA.)

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