Your pet is your family. You love them, feed them, and play with them as if they were your children. When your furbaby is unwell, it’s your responsibility as a pet parent to care for them and get them the care that they need.
Knowing when your pet is unwell requires some detective work. However, some physical symptoms make it pretty clear that your dog or cat needs help. It’s important to recognize a true emergency so that you can get your pet the immediate and compassionate medical care that they need. Here are ten pet emergencies and the symptoms to watch for.
Pet Symptoms That Demand Emergency Care
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Most cases of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs are due to an upset stomach. Perhaps they ate something they shouldn’t have while playing in the yard or on a walk. If your furry companion isn’t feeling better the next day, watch for the following symptoms:
- Vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours
- Diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Your pet is lethargic or seems weak
- Your pet appears to be in pain
Call your veterinarian if your dog or cat displays any of those symptoms.
If you notice your pet struggling to breathe, that can be a sign of a serious health issue. Respiratory distress in a pet can come from a number of causes including physical trauma, heart failure, cancer, allergic reactions, and toxins. So it’s a good idea to rush your pet to the vet immediately.
Your vet will probably want to perform a radiograph of your pet’s airway to detect any issues. Also, try to take mental notes of whether your pet’s breathing is labored, rapid, or abnormal. The vet will need this information to help diagnose your pet’s condition.
Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation volvulus, is when a dog’s stomach becomes twisted. It’s a life-threatening condition for dogs that requires emergency care.
Large breed dogs, such as Great Danes and German Shepherds, are most susceptible to bloat. Signs of bloat include:
- Inability to settle
- Swollen abdomen
- Unable to vomit
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive drooling
- Pale gums
- Dry heaving
Bloat is a condition that can worsen in a dog rather quickly. Survival rates greater than 80% are associated with emergency medical attention. Don’t hesitate to act if your pet is showing symptoms of bloat. Get to an emergency vet right away.
Dog Bite Wounds
A dog bite wound may appear to be nothing more than a little nick. However, that bite could’ve caused serious damage beneath the skin. It’s possible that your pet’s muscle, skin, and fat were torn apart by the bite. Those tears can create an air pocket beneath the skin where an infection can develop.
Bites can be hard to detect depending on the fur thickness of your dog. And bites usually come in pairs. Bite wounds to the chest or abdominal cavities have the potential to be life-threatening. Contact your vet immediately for even the smallest bite wound.
Physical trauma to a pet can result from a variety of injuries. A fall, being hit by a car, and animal bites are some of the more common injuries. Your pet might not appear to be seriously injured on the outside. However, inside could be a different story as internal bleeding or a ruptured organ is possible.
If you suspect that your pet has suffered any type of physical trauma, take them to the vet immediately. This includes any type of blunt trauma such as being hit by a car, falling, or being bit by another animal.
Pets can suffer poisoning in a variety of ways. Dogs can eat foods that are dangerous to them such as grapes, raisins, or chocolate. Cats can consume lilies. Both dogs and cats can swallow rat poison, human medications, pesticides, bleaches, essential oils, or toilet cleaning tablets. Become familiar with substances around your home that may harm your pet.
The faster you get your pet medical treatment, the better the chance the poison can be treated. The longer you wait, the more apt the poison is absorbed into the digestive system.
Seizures are electrical disturbances in the brain that are sudden and uncontrolled. They can occur singly or in multiples. A seizure can happen at any time and at any frequency.
There are two types of seizures: intracranial and extracranial. Intracranial seizures are triggered by issues such as epilepsy, brain tumors, and swelling of the brain. Extra-cranial seizures are triggered by other health issues such as low blood sugar or electrolyte disorders. An epileptic seizure is the most common type suffered by dogs and cats.
Seizure symptoms include the following:
- Uncontrollable shaking and tremors
- Loss of consciousness
- Leg paddling
- Loss of urinary or bowel control
Any seizure can be life-threatening for your pet. Seek immediate medical attention.
Urinary issues are something you might not expect your pet to have. You walk your dog multiple times each day or set up a private litter box for your cat. So you might not give it much thought.
But pay close attention to make sure your pet is urinating. If your pet isn’t urinating or is straining to do so, there might be a medical issue at play that goes beyond a urinary tract infection.
Straining to urinate can be a sign of crystals in the bladder. Blood clots, cancer, and inflammation can all cause urination difficulties. The inability to pass any urine for longer than 12 hours is potentially life-threatening and needs immediate medical assistance.
Ocular issues are such that they can lead to loss of an eye or blindness if left untreated.
Symptoms of eye issues include:
- Eye redness
- Chronic eye pawing
- Excessive tearing
Call your vet if your pet displays any of these serious issues.
Insect stings are a medical concern most common during the summer months but can happen any time of year. An unfortunate sting in the wrong place can make your pet very itchy.
Signs that your pet has been stung include swelling around the face or a case of hives. Severe allergic reactions to a sting can cause the airway to swell. That will affect your pet’s breathing. But severe reactions are mostly associated with multiple stings.
Follow these steps if your pet gets stung:
- Use some tweezers to remove the stinger
- Mix water and baking soda into a paste to apply to the sting site
- Relieve pain and swelling with an ice pack
- Ask your vet if it’s OK to administer an oral antihistamine
- Give your pet some fresh water and carefully observe them
Call your vet immediately if you notice a dramatic swelling increase or if your pet goes into anaphylactic shock.
Your Pet’s Hero During an Emergency
You are your pet’s world. They repay the care you give them with cuddles, licks, and loyalty. When they get sick, it’s scary for both of you, especially since they can’t communicate to you what the issue is. So take a deep breath, focus, and stay calm. Your pet needs you now more than ever.
As tempting as it might be, don’t start searching the internet for symptoms. Instead, call us immediately. Above all, that’s why we’re here. To give your pet the same care you provide, especially in times of a medical emergency.
If your pet experiences any of the symptoms listed above, give us a call right away.