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August 7, 2012 > Veterinary & Pet News: Pet Emergency

Veterinary & Pet News: Pet Emergency

If you've owned a pet for any length of time, you've probably seen it; you come home from a long day at work and they've redecorated the carpet with some form of liquid output. You grudgingly clean it up and go on with your evening activities.

Then you notice your pet is becoming sicker and sicker. Your regular veterinarian is closed, it's midnight, and now you're desperately seeking a clinic that's open.

In case of an emergency when your regular veterinarian is closed, you should contact a 24-hour veterinary hospital. It is important that your pet get continuous care rather than an on-call service because emergency pet conditions can change rapidly. It is also important to visit a clinic where a veterinarian will be able to answer your questions late at night or early in the morning.

Pets that are injured may become aggressive if in pain. It's important to protect yourself first and being careful when handling pets when they are in pain. Use a stretcher or some flat board for transport. Special care should be taken to support the back or neck of any pet that is injured or if spinal injury is suspected. It would be prudent to call ahead to the veterinary emergency clinic to let them know that you are on your way, giving them a heads up so that they are prepared when you arrive.

Unfortunately, pet emergencies are more common than many people realize; it is important to know when they require immediate attention. The most common symptoms are:
Seizure, fainting or collapse
Pale gums
Rapid breathing
Weak or abnormal pulse
Eye injury, no matter how mild
Vomiting or diarrhea - more than two or three times. Also, a dog who's trying to vomit (or may be vomiting foam, licking lips), has a bloated appearance indicative of abdominal pain
Diarrhea with blood
Allergic reactions, such as swelling around the face, or hives, most easily seen on the belly
Any suspected poisoning including antifreeze, rodent or snail bait, or human medication. Cats are especially sensitive to insecticides (such as flea-control medication for dogs) or any petroleum-based product.
Change in body temperature - high or low
Unable to walk properly or paralysis
A pet who is in pain
Snake or venomous spider bites
Thermal stress - too cold or too hot - even if the pet seems to have recovered
Loss of consciousness or seizures
Any wound or laceration that's open and bleeding, or any animal bite
Trauma, such as being hit by a car, even if the pet seems fine
Any respiratory problem: chronic coughing, trouble breathing or near drowning
Straining to urinate or defecate
Persistent bleeding from any source

If you notice any of the symptoms above, call the 24-hour veterinary hospital immediately.

In some cases, pet emergencies can be prevented by planning ahead. The adage "spend a little now or spend a lot later" applies to veterinary emergencies. If your pet is having minor symptoms, have them checked out by your veterinarian right away to prevent them from getting worse in the middle of the night... your pet and your pocketbook will be thankful for it.

Dr Raj Salwan is a second generation Veterinarian and has been around Veterinary Medicine for over 23 years. His interests include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Emergency/Acute Care, and general small animal practice. He currently works at American Animal Care in Fremont and can be reached via email at or

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