Emergencies happen to people and pets alike. For pet owners, there are few things as scary as when your pet needs urgent medical help. And since animals are remarkably good at hiding when they’re ill or injured, you may not always see when they are in a state of emergency. Since there are all manner of reasons your pet may need to be rushed to the emergency vet, here are some signs that may help you recognize when that time comes, and what else you can do on your end when they do.
Coming home to drops or smears of blood on the floor is distressing. Because of all that fur, it isn’t always immediately obvious where the bleeding is coming from. Start out by gently and carefully running your hands all over your pet and checking your hand after each area. Muzzle your pet if necessary. Once you’ve found the source of the bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury and apply firm pressure to aid the blood in clotting. This usually takes up to seven minutes. If the injury is to a leg or tail, a tourniquet can be placed with a clean gauze over the wound. Then get your pet to your emergency vet clinic right away. Just because the bleeding has seemed to stop doesn’t mean your dog or cat out of the woods. The clot may break up and bleeding may resume. Any time the skin is broken there is a great chance of infection.
From grand mal to petit mal, watching your pet seize can be a horrifying experience. Make sure your pet is safely on even ground and remove anything they might knock into that could further injure him. Urination, drooling, and defecation are not uncommon during a seizure; make sure you watch them closely so you can report all of this to the veterinarian. Do not attempt to restrain your pet while they are seizing. After the seizure has passed, beware that in a post-ictal state animals and people can be confused and disoriented. Keep any other pets or children away until they regain awareness. A seizure lasting longer than five minutes, or ones that occur rapidly should not be waited out. If possible, get your dog or cat in the car and rush them to the emergency vet.
Is there anything scarier than watching a beloved pet choke? Whether it’s a bone, a toy or some other object, obstruction of the airway can cause oxygen deprivation which might lead to organ failure, brain damage or even death. Time is of the essence here but be careful and watch your pet closely – they may try to bite you in panic. Look for an object in their mouth and try to remove it. Be sure to do this gently or you might force the object deeper into the trachea. If you cannot manually remove the object, you can try giving the dog Heimlich maneuver:
- Put your dog on your lap.
- Turn on their back.
- Use the palm of your hand to apply pressure just below the rib cage.
- Push up and in firmly five times in a thrusting motion.
- Roll your dog to the side and check their mouth for the object.
The Heimlich maneuver does not always work. Rushing your pet to the emergency vet is always the best solution if you’re unable to get the obstruction out on your own. Even after removing the object, a trip to your vet is important so they can check for any damage done to your pet’s throat, ribs, or organs.
It can be hard to tell whether your dog has broken a bone or if they simply twisted something. If your dog or cat will allow you, gently use your hands to explore the area they are favoring. In some places, like legs, it’s easy to tell if there’s a break. Parts like hips or shoulders can be more difficult to assess, so you should always err on the side of caution and get your pet to the emergency vet if you witnessed him fall or if they unable to walk normally. You may have to muzzle your pet before being able to even touch them, so it’s always a good idea to have one of those laying around your house that fits each of your pets just in case. If you suspect a fracture, place your dog on a flat, transportable surface and keep them on it while you load your pet into the car and drive to the emergency clinic.
If your pet is so weak that she cannot stand, there is a very real possibility that they’re in a dire state. Whether it’s heat stroke, poisoning, organ failure, or something else, you should immediately get your pet to the emergency vet to have them assessed.
Talk with Your Veterinarian
As much as we wish there could be, there’s just no way to prepare ahead of time for an emergency situation. Make sure you have your regular vet and local emergency vet’s phone numbers and addresses on hand. Learning CPR for animals, such as the Heimlich and chest compressions, can be lifesaving for your pet. Acquire basic knowledge about the best ways to stop or slow down bleeding, and what to do in case of broken bones. Call Country Club Animal Hospital at (305) 663-3300 with any questions!