Recognizing an emergency can be difficult. If you think your pet is experiencing an emergency but are not sure, call your veterinarian or the nearest 24 hour veterinary hospital as soon as you suspect a problem. There are no "dumb" or "bad" questions when dealing with your pet's health. They are there to help you help you assess whether your animal needs to be seen.
We have compiled this page to include short list of tips and articles so you may learn how to respond when the unexpected occurs.
Prepare for Pet Emergencies. Make sure you have the telephone numbers of your veterinarian and a nearby 24 hour emergency hospital handy. Be aware of the things in your home that could be toxic to your pet, both to prevent poisioning and to recognize what could be the cause of a sudden illness. Acetaminophen or other human medicines, grapes and raisins, and plants such as lilies are among the many household items that can be toxic to your animals.
Put together a pet first aid kit, two if you travel with your dog. Both the AVMA and the University of Illinois have good articles listing the items a first aid kit should include, bee stings, coughing and choking, heat stroke, and poisioning.
Learn to identify emergency situations and toxic substances. Learn how to recognize if your pet is sick, diagnose whether a situation is an emergency. Please click on the "Animal Poison Control" link below to learn more.
Dog First Aid Book: Purchase the Dog First Aid Book with DVD for $16.95 directly from the American Red Cross.
Take a Class in Pet First Aid: Take a pet first aid class from the American Red Cross. Courses are available at many Red Cross chapters on how to care for your pet. Visit Redcross.org/en/takeaclass or call 1-800 RED CROSS to see when classes are available.
Please review the AVMA's First Aid Tips for Pet Owners for more information.
There are a variety of online resources to help you understand the causes, symptoms and treatment for these emergencies. However, please call your veterinarian or the nearest 24 hour veterinary hospital first if you suspect your pet of having a medical emergency.
If you suspect a poisioning has occurred, contact your veterinarian or a 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital as soon as possible. Acetaminophen or other human medicines, grapes and raisins, xylitol and plants such as lilies are among the many household items that can be toxic to your animals.
The most common sign of this injury is a swollen muzzle. It is advisable to call your veterinarian to determine if treatment is necessary. Most dogs do not have a problem with bee stings, but some have respiratory difficulty and all need to be watched carefully for 24 hours.
If your animal isn't breathing, call your veterinarian or the closest 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital immediately. You can place your mouth over their nose and give three quick breaths in order to help stimulate their breathing. It is important to distinguish between coughing, gagging, and choking.
Pet owners should remember that the inside of a car can quickly reach 120 degrees in warm weather and should not leave their animals in the car, even during short trips. This can quickly lead to heat stroke. The signs of heat stroke include:
For a dog that has been hit by a car, you need to get the dog on a firm surface, such as a piece of plywood. If that is not available, put it in a blanket. The goal is to move the animal in one piece with a minimal amount of motion. The animal should be transported to your veterinarian or a 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
This condition can be caused by a number of different factors, including but not limited to degenerative ligament condition, or slipping of the knee cap while walking. Sudden changes are likely to be caused by ligament ruptures, twists, or impact injury. If your pet is limping or has developed an irregular step, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for evaluation before it develops into a chronic, painful condition. In many cases, medication can be prescribed to correct your dog or cat's walk while also easing any pain they are experiencing.
If your pet is experiencing a seizure, try to stay calm and keep clear. If you try to hold your dog or cat down, you may cause injury. Also keep your fingers away from your pet's mouth, as their reflexes may cause them to bite without any real awareness of their actions. Try to take note of how long the seizure lasts and the activity your pet was engaged in prior to it occurring. These details may help in diagnosing the condition if they form a noticeable pattern.
If your pet has experienced a seizure, take him or her to a veterinarian for examination as soon as possible. This will help narrow down the cause of the incident and in most cases help prevent it from happening again in the future. Remember:
If your dog or cat has come into contact with or ingested toxic material, two organizations are available for 24/7 support. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) and the Pet Poison Hotline (1-800-213-6680) will instruct you on the proper course of action to take depending on the severity of the situation. The top ten toxins reported in 2011 helpline calls to look out for, as reported by AAHA-affiliated site healtypet.com are: