Pet emergencies are scary but you'll give your pet a better chance at recovery if you are prepared for an emergency situation. In today's post, our Bonita Springs emergency veterinarians explain the signs of emergency situations in pets and share a few first aid tactics you can use while on your way to the pet hospital.
How can I tell if my pet needs emergency care?
Even if you are the most diligent pet parent, situations requiring emergency veterinary care can happen. Being prepared for an emergency can help you stay calm and also gives your pet a better chance at making a full recovery.
Our vets understand that it can be challenging for pet parents to know when their companion is in need of emergency care. That's why, knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the cat or dog emergency vet is necessary, is helpful. If your pet is showing any of the symptoms below or is otherwise acting in a way that is causing you concern, err on the side of caution and head to the ER for pets as soon as possible.
Sings of a Pet Emergency
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
- Dilated pupils
- Severe injury (car accident, fall)
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Blood in diarrhea
- Staggering or stumbling
- Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
- Broken bones, open wounds
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Ingestion of poisonous foods
- Ingestion of foreign objects
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Obvious pain
- Loss of balance
- Sudden blindness
- Inflammation or injury to the eye
Basic First Aid for Pet Parents
While knowing how to perform first aid on your pet is important, it does not replace the need for proper veterinary care. First aid should be used to help stabilize your animal for a trip to your emergency vet.
Help Stop Bleeding
Muzzle your pet before beginning as hurt and stressed animals may bite, even the people they love. To help stop the bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury and apply steady, firm pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins. A tourniquet of gauze with an elastic band to secure it will be required for severe leg bleeding. Bring your pet to the emergency veterinary clinic immediately for care.
What To Do If Your Pet Has a Seizure
If your animal is experiencing a seizure, do not attempt to restrain your pet. It's a good idea to remove any objects close by that may hurt your pet. Once the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet for advice. If your animal has a number of seizures in a row or a single seizure that lasts for more than 3 minutes urgent care is required. Contact your vet immediately.
Caring for a Pet with a Fractured or Broken Bone
Begin by muzzling your pet, then lay them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If at all possible, we suggest securing your animal to the stretcher, being sure to avoid putting pressure on the injured area. This will help keep them still so they don't injure themselves further.
What to do if Your Pet is Choking
Your pet may bite out of panic, so it's important to be cautious while trying to help your animal. Open your pet's mouth and check for objects. If you spot something, gently try to remove it if possible. Be extremely careful to not accidentally push the object further into your animal's throat. If removing the object is too difficult, don't waste precious time trying. Immediately transport your pet to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic for urgent assistance.
Being Prepared for Pet Emergencies
What You Should Know in Advance
You never know when an emergency might strike, but being prepared for a pet emergency may help you to provide your animal with the best possible care quickly. Our Bonita Springs vets suggest keeping the following at hand in case of a veterinary emergency:
- Your vet's phone number
- The phone number & directions for the closest emergency vet clinic
- The Animal Poison Control Center phone number
- An easy-to-use muzzle that fits your dog properly
- A carrier for easy transportation to the vet for small pets
- Gauze, tourniquets, and other basic first aid supplies in case of bleeding
It can also be useful to know basic pet CPR and other first aid techniques. If you're interested, many first aid organizations and community centers offer first aid classes for pets.
Financial Responsibilities in a Pet Emergency
Pet emergencies often require a significant amount of veterinary care. Diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment for your pet in an emergency can quickly become expensive. It is a pet owner's responsibility to ensure that they can financially care for their pets if an emergency strikes.
Prepare for unforeseeable circumstances by regularly putting money aside specifically to cover the cost of emergency care for your pet, or by signing up for a pet insurance plan. Delaying emergency veterinary care in order to avoid fees could put your pet's life at risk.