Emergency Care for Your Pet
Many situations can happen to your pet that constitute a real emergency. Some are obvious to you but others can be more insidious and you may not be sure whether to come in to us or not. We have tried to point out many different reasons for you to bring your pet in. Sometimes we want you to start emergency procedures at home and other times the best thing that you can do is to get in as quickly and safely as possible. When you do plan on coming in, call ahead IF YOU ARE ABLE TO SAFELY. We will see you either way, immediately. If these problems happen after hours, please know where your closest emergency clinic is located.
Listed below are problems in no particular order that may occur with your pet. If there is care that can be done at home first, it will be discussed briefly. If you are ever in doubt, please call us right away so that we can assist you through this crisis.
- Traumatic injury. If your pet has been hit or run over by a car, or has fallen from a window or roof, or has been in a dog or cat fight, we need to see them as quickly as possible. Try to make your pet comfortable for the trip-either putting them in a carrier with gentle handling or lying comfortably on their side. If they become distressed while on their side, let them sit in the position that they choose. We want minimal opportunity for movement during the transport, so if they are weak or unconscious, try to tape them to a backboard if you can. Do not put any pressure on their stomach. Position the head in a natural state, unless they have head injuries or are vomiting, in which case the head should rest lower than the heart so no aspiration occurs. Be sure to cover your pet with a blanket to keep in body warmth. Don’t panic when driving in to us. If this happens when we are closed, know where your closest emergency clinic is located.
- Electrocution. Your pet may have chewed on wires located behind your appliances and gotten shocked. First unplug the cord and then move their body away, using a wooden broom for your safety. Check for breathing…Do chest compressions and mouth to snout breathing if none seen. Check for mouth burns IF YOU CAN PUT YOUR FINGERS IN WITHOUT BEING BITTEN! Apply cool compresses to any obvious burns. Cover your pet with a blanket to prevent heat loss and transport them to us immediately. Even in you don’t see any injury, bring them in to be checked anyway. Abnormal electrical activity of the heart or fluid build-up in the lungs can show up later and be fatal if not caught early.
- Bloat. If you notice your pet drooling, retching frequently or making attempts to vomit, being anxious and restless, agitated or depressed, bring them in immediately. Bloat is where the stomach dilates with gas and sometimes twists inside the body. It is life-threatening and needs immediate care. It is primarily a problem in deep chested breeds, like German Shepherds, Dobermans or other large or giant breeds, but also can happen in Dachshunds.
- Straining to urinate. This can especially happen in male cats that get crystals in their urethra and can’t get urine out. It is a life-threatening emergency and your cat needs to be brought in immediately.
- Snake bites. There are no measures that you can do yourself except to get your pet in to us as soon as possible. DO NOT use cold packs, tourniquets, incision or sucking of wound, alcohol or constriction bands on the wound. Keep the bitten area below that of the heart level and get in to us as soon as possible.
- Seizure activity. Most seizures are not emergencies, UNLESS the seizure continues on for more than a few minutes. Do not try to put your hand in your pet’s mouth- they do not swallow their tongues. Try to gently move your pet away from any furniture so that they do not hurt themselves. If the seizure continues on for several minutes, your pet may overheat so try to cool them down by dousing with water or using a fan and get them in to us as soon as possible. For short seizures, please bring your pet in within a day or so for further examination and possible bloodwork.
- Drowning. Even if your pet is conscious, they need to be seen as soon as possible. Treatment for salt-water drowning differs from treatment for fresh-water drowning. Wrap your pet in a blanket to retain body heat. Perform mouth to snout ventilation if you do not see voluntary respirations. Get your pet in to us as soon as possible.
- Spider and Bee bites. Spider bites that are dangerous around here include the Black Widow and Brown Recluse. For Black Widow bites, there is no treatment that is available at home, so transport your pet in as soon as possible. For Brown Recluse you can apply cool compresses while you are transporting your pet in to us. Bee stings, if in large amounts, can be very serious. Immobilize your pet and if you have an Epi-Pen, you can use that while transporting them in to us if the swelling is causing respiratory difficulty. Large amount of Ant bites are also serious and need immediate treatment.
- Rat bait ingestion. This is potentially fatal and we need to see your pet immediately. Please also bring in the box or a sample of the rat bait if possible. If your pet is conscious, try to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. Call us for the correct amount to give, and then transport your pet in to us.
- Choking on foreign objects. If your pet is unconscious, try to sweep your fingers gentle around the inside of their mouth in order to see if you can loosen or remove the object. If the object is too deep, you can try a modified Heimlich maneuver, by compressing the abdomen immediately below the chest, pushing upwards. You can try a good slap to their chest. If your pet is conscious, do a finger sweep ONLY if your pet will not bite you. In either case, bring your pet in as soon as possible for assistance.
- Burns and smoke inhalation. Do not apply anything to fresh burns. Bring your pet in for any smoke inhalation or burns for immediate treatment and oxygen therapy.
- Collapse. Many diseases can cause a pet to collapse at home. If your pet is just extremely weak, apply some karo syrup to their gums and bring them in immediately. If you don’t know why your pet collapsed, we need to see them as soon as possible.
Having an emergency kit at home is an extremely good idea. It should include the following: adhesive tape, antihistamines like Benadryl, antiseptics like Betadine, cotton balls, swabs and rolls, corn starch or styptic powder, karo syrup (light or dark), tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, scissors, sterile gauze pads and rolls, a pet thermometer, antibiotic ointments, anti-diarrheal medicine like liquid Pepto-Bismol (NOT chews), clear plastic wrap like Saran wrap, activated charcoal, and lubricating jelly like KJ. Have a soft fabric muzzle for your dog (because they may try to bite if in pain) or a restraint bag for your cat.
As always, contact us with ANY questions you may have. We would much rather answer questions about something that may not be an emergency than have one overlooked because you felt it might be silly to call.