While you will do everything you can to keep your dog or cat safe, accidents happen, and you likely will experience one sooner or later. In this post, our Lacey vets share some of the signs that you should get your pet to the nearest emergency vet clinic and how to perform first aid before you go.
Signs That Your Pet Needs Emergency Care
No matter the cause, knowing that your pet is suddenly in medical distress can scare any pet parent. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know if you should visit your nearest emergency vet, or if your dog will be okay until you can get them to your primary vet.
To help you with your decision, here are some of the obvious signs that your pet needs immediate care:
There are various reasons why your dog's abdomen may become hard and swollen (or bloated), ranging from heart failure or liver dysfunction to a uterine infection, internal bleeding, or 'bloat'. It's never a good idea to ignore signs of a bloated abdomen in dogs. If your dog is showing signs of a bloated abdomen, it's time to bring them to the emergency vet.
If your dog’s stomach becomes bloated, and you notice other symptoms such as pacing, repeated unsuccessful attempts at vomiting, or saliva coming back up, your dog could be suffering from Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV), also known as "Stomach Torsion," or “Dog Bloat.” Bloat is a very serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention!
Ingestion of a Toxic Substance
Substances that are toxic to dogs are everywhere. If you see your pup eating something they shouldn't, it's best not to wait for your dog to become severely ill. Contact your vet right away. When it comes to poisons, early treatment is essential for good outcomes.
Some of the most common toxins include:
- Grapes & Raisins
- The artificial sweetener Xylitol
- Azaleas and rhododendrons
- Slug bait
- Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs
- Over-the-counter medications such as pain-killers
No matter how intense the pain is, if your dog is in discomfort you should bring them to an emergency vet right away. If your dog is exhibiting obvious signs of pain such as vocalizing, panting, drooling, or profoundly limping don't let your dog needlessly suffer. If your dog is in pain, it's time to go to the emergency vet for treatment.
Excessive Vomiting & Diarrhea
Occasional, random bouts of vomit or diarrhea are normally not a cause for concern. However, repeated bouts of vomiting or diarrhea can quickly result in dehydration which can be extremely serious. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be symptoms of serious conditions such as poisoning or gastrointestinal obstruction. If your dog is repeatedly vomiting or passing loose stool, call your vet or emergency vet immediately for advice.
If you have a young puppy it's very important to monitor for signs of Parvo. Parvo is a common disease in puppies that can have potentially deadly consequences. If your puppy is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, call your vet or emergency vet straight away! Parvo is extremely contagious, be sure to let your vet know of your suspicions so they can take the appropriate quarantine measures in order to protect other animals.
Inability to Urinate
An inability to urinate (or reluctance to urinate) could be a sign of a bladder infection or something much more serious. While bladder infections can be very painful for dogs they aren't life-threatening. That said, an inability to urinate could be a sign that your dog's urinary tract has become obstructed by bladder stones. If your dog is unable to urinate there is a very good chance they are in pain and require urgent veterinary care. Call your vet or emergency vet as quickly as possible.
Ultimately, it will be up to you whether to take your dog to the emergency veterinary clinic or your primary care vet for an emergency appointment. However, when it comes to protecting your dog's health, we believe it's best to err on the side of caution. When in doubt, contact your emergency vet for help.
Emergency First Aid For Dogs or Cats
When your pet experiences a sudden emergency, you will want to grab your dog or cat's emergency first aid kit and perform the necessary first aid care to help manage your pet's condition until you can get to the nearest emergency vet clinic.
What to Keep in a First Aid Kit For Pets
To help ensure that you are ready if your dog or cat is injured, our team at Olympia Pet Emergency has put together a list of essential items for your pet's first aid kit. Keep the following items in a toolbox or another case and make sure they are easy to get to.
- Latex gloves
- Cotton swabs or cotton balls
- Antiseptic lotion, powder, or spray
- Hand sanitizer or wipes
- Instant hot and cold packs
- Alcohol swabs
- Penlight or flashlight
- Nonstick and waterproof adhesive tape to secure bandages
- Grease-cutting dish soap
- Sterile gauze pads and bandages
- Hydrocortisone cream 3%
- Blunt-tipped scissors or razor for cutting hair and bandages
- Splints and tongue depressors
- Styptic liquid to stop minor bleeding
- Antibiotic ointment
- Blanket, muzzle, carrier, or leash to secure your pet
- Rectal thermometer
- Copy of rabies vaccination
- Water in case of dehydration
- Lubricating jelly
- Copy of medical records
- Turkey baster, rubber bulb syringe, or dosing
Performing First Aid on Your Pet
Here are a few things you can do to stabilize your pet before bringing them to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.
- To be safe, muzzle your pet. Even the nicest pets can bite when they're hurt, so it's best to be careful. Ask your vet in advance how to use gauze to tie a muzzle if you don't have a muzzle handy.
- Press a clean, thick pad of gauze over any cuts or scrapes, and keep your hand on the wound until the blood starts to clot. Keep the pressure on for at least three minutes before checking to see if the blood is indeed clotting.
- Keep the pet as quiet and warm as you can.
- If you think the pet has broken bones, find a flat surface, like a board or stretcher, that you can move the pet on from place to place. Using a blanket or towel to tie the pet to the surface may also be a good idea.
Remember that any first aid you give your pet should be followed by veterinary care right away. First aid care is not the same as veterinary care, but it could save your pet's life until it can see a vet.
Some animal hospitals that treat emergencies have ambulances. Call your vet to find out how to move an injured animal based on your specific situation.
Emergency Veterinary Care in Lacey
At Olympia Pet Emergency, our dedicated veterinarians are here to help. We have a commitment to providing necessary emergency veterinary care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Our state-of-the-art facility is well-equipped to manage any situation that comes through our doors. We have a full surgical suite in addition to exam, triage, and comfort rooms. We are equipped to provide onsite radiology, comprehensive diagnostics, oxygen delivery systems, comfortable small and large kennels, intravenous fluid pumps as well as a complete pharmacy.
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.