Unless your pet has a visible injury or ailment, it may be difficult to gauge whether or not the situation is an emergency. Here, our La Mesa vets discuss how to tell if you should take your cat or dog to the emergency vet and tips about first aid that you can perform on your pet at home.
Should I Take My Cat or Dog to the Emergency Vet?
Day or night, a situation that requires emergency veterinary care could occur, and you'll need to be prepared, if or when it happens to your animal.
It can be challenging for pet owners to know when their dog, cat, or other pet is in need of emergency care. That's why, knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency vet is necessary, is helpful. If you still aren't sure, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for advice.
What Are Some Signs of a Pet Emergency?
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
- Dilated pupils
- Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
- 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 Your Cat or Dog in an Emergency
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.
Muzzle your pet before beginning. To help stop the bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury, applying pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins. A tourniquet of gauze with an elastic band to secure it will be required for severe leg bleeding. Immediately bring your pet to the veterinary clinic.
Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Try to remove objects that may hurt your pet. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet.
Muzzle your pet. Lay your pet on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If possible, secure your animal to the stretcher, avoiding putting pressure on the injured area.
Your pet may bite out of panic, so it's important to be cautious. Check your pet's mouth for objects and try to remove the object if possible. Be careful not accidentally to push the object further into your animal's throat. If this is too difficult, don't waste precious time trying. Immediately transport your pet to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic for care.
How To Prepare For a Pet Emergency
Things That Will Help in an Emergency
You never know when an emergency might strike, but being prepared for a pet emergency may help you provide your animal with the best possible care. Our La Mesa vets suggest keeping the following at 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
Prepare For the Financial Responsibility of a Veterinary Emergency
Due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment required, emergency veterinary care can be expensive. It is a pet owner's responsibility to ensure that they can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.
Prepare for unforeseeable circumstances by putting money aside specifically for emergencies, or by signing up for a pet insurance plan. Putting off veterinary care in order to avoid emergency fees could put your pet's life at risk.
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.