Is It An Emergency?

September 27, 2011 at 8:16 am Leave a comment

I think this is very helpful information for deciding whether you should take your pet to the emergency hospital or wait until the following day.

by Doctor Landorf – Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital
Written in the Pet Sitters Associates, LLC quarterly newsletter

The most common question I receive after hours from worried pet owners when their pet is ill or injured is, “Is this an emergency, or can it wait until tomorrow?”  When this call wakes me in the middle of the night I always hope for the pet’s sake and mine that it can wait until the next day.

After many years of receiving these calls I have developed some guidelines that help answer this question quickly.  Here is a list of most of the emergencies that I see.

1)  Bleeding – if the bleeding is more than a dripping that does not stop in 10 minutes.

2)  A dog looks bloated, drools excessively, paces, cannot get comfortable or retches but does not vomit.  These are classic signs of gastric torsion (a twisted stomach or bloat).

3)  A male cat that cries, is lethargic, in and out of the litter box and strains without passing anything.  These are symptoms of a urinary tract obstruction (“plugged” cat)

4)  The cat that is panting or open-mouthed breathing.  Unlike the dog, in cats this is always the sign of a serious breathing problem.

5)  A seizure (convulsion) lasting longer than 15 minutes or multiple seizures in the same day.

6)  Any pet that is hit by a car even if they look fine.  Internal injuries and shock can show up hours later.

7)  Any pet that is suddenly unable to use their legs even if they do not appear painful.

8)  Continued vomiting if not eating or drinking.

9)  Any pet for any reason that is unresponsive.

10) Ingestion of poisons like antifreeze or rat poison.

Although it is impossible to compile a list of every possible emergency, this list includes most emergencies that occur commonly.

As always, if there is any question about the seriousness of an injury or illness it is best to call the  be more expensive, immediate treatment in many cases may be more cost-effective as well as preventing a potentially life threatening concern veterinarian on call or an emergency clinic.  Although the treatment may


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