Veterinary emergencies can happen at any time and the best thing you can do for your cat or dog in an emergency situation is to be prepared. Our Los Angeles vets are here to explain what situations require emergency care, what to do, and steps you can take to prepare for emergencies.
How do I know if my pet needs Emergency Care?
Situations that warrant your cat or dog needing emergency or urgent care can happen unexpectedly and at any time, and it is wise to be prepared for and when it might happen to your pet.
Knowing when your cat or dog is in need of emergency care from their vet isn't always obvious, so you'll need to be aware of some signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency vet is necessary. If you're in doubt, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for help.
Signs of a Pet Emergency
- Dilated pupils
- Lameness or inability to walk
- Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
- Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
- Loss of balance
- Obvious pain
- Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
- Inability to urinate or defecate
- Inflammation or injury to the eye
- Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing, or choking
- Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
- Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
Basic First Aid
Please keep in mind that administering first aid on your pet does not replace the need for veterinary care. Basic first aid is meant to stabilize your pet from transport to the emergency room and prevent further injury.
To further your knowledge of pet first aid you can always check with local organizations to see if they offer any classes on first aid for animals.
Start with muzzling your pet so they cannot access the bleeding area. Place a clean gauze pad over the injury, applying pressure with your hand until blood clotting begins (usually several minutes). Severe leg bleeding requires a tourniquet of gauze and an elastic band to secure it, bring your pet to the vet immediately.
Remove objects that may hurt your pet. Do not attempt to restrain them. Keep your pet warm after the seizure is over and phone your vet.
Muzzle your pet. Lay them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. Secure them to the stretcher if possible, avoiding the injured area.
Be cautious, your pet may bite out of panic. Look for objects in their mouth and try to remove them if possible, but be careful to not accidentally push the object further into the throat. If there is nothing immediately evident in their throat, don't waste time looking. Bring your pet to the emergency vet immediately.
What You Should Know in Advance
Our vets recommend preparing and having the following available in case of an emergency:
- The phone number for your vet's office
- Directions and the phone number for the nearest Emergency Vet Clinic or ER for pets
- The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
- Knowledge of basic CPR for pets
- Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
- How to safely muzzle your dog when they're in pain so they don't bite anyone
Emergency care for your pet can be expensive due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment necessary. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure you can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.
It might be easier to plan ahead for unforeseeable circumstances with savings set aside for emergencies, or pet insurance plans. Delays in care to avoid emergency fees may put your pet's life at risk, so it's important to take this into consideration when becoming a pet owner.