We all become worried when our beloved pets become ill, but when should we take them to an emergency hospital? Most larger communities have an ER for pets, but when do we need to utilize one? What symptoms are serious and need immediate attention, and what can wait until the next day for your regular doctor?
The following list will help you decide.
1. Almost any problem involving the eye should be seen right away. Glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and foreign bodies beneath the eyelids are common eye diseases where waiting could make the problem worse.
2. Profuse vomiting is another sign that needs immediate attention. Vomiting has many causes. A common reason, though, is an intestinal obstruction since pets love to eat so many weird things! If this occurs, the pet can become very sick in a matter of hours, so an ER trip is warranted.
3. Difficulty breathing is also a problem that should not wait. This symptom again has many causes but almost all need immediate attention. Difficulty breathing may be a severe cough, but more commonly it is exaggerated effort in breathing, with pets often using their abdominal muscles to help them breathe. At first people may not notice their pet is having difficulty, but they may note that their pet does not want to lie down.
4. If there is active hemorrhage, of course, the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away.
5. If your pet suddenly can't use its back legs, is dragging its rear legs, or is unable to get up, this is a reason for an emergency trip. This is a common problem, especially in Dachshunds, and emergency surgery may be needed to save the spinal cord. For the best outcome in these cases, time is of the essence.
6. If your pet has its first seizure, it should be examined immediately. Seizures are just a symptom, they have many causes, and they should be checked without delay. The pet should be monitored closely for the next several hours as another seizure may occur. If your pet has had seizures before, has been diagnosed with epilepsy, is on medication, and has another seizure, it may not need to visit the ER each time it has a seizure, but if a seizure lasts more than a couple minutes, or there are clusters of seizures, then a trip to the ER is warranted.
7. If your pet ingests a toxin, they should be taken to the emergency hospital as soon as possible. The doctor may induce vomiting to try to eliminate some of the toxin, so time is important. If there is even a possibility the pet ingested antifreeze, it is important to get to the ER immediately. There is a test to determine if they did drink any of the poison, and the antidote needs to be given within a couple of hours of ingestion.
8. A pet with a distended abdomen needs to see a doctor right away. This can be a sign of several serious conditions, include GDV (or “Bloat”) and active hemorrhage into the abdomen. Both of these conditions require immediate treatment.
9. If your pet is pregnant, and is having difficulty having the babies, it should see the emergency veterinarian. This problem is called a dystocia and an emergency cesarean section maybe needed. Veterinarians advise that a puppy or kitten should be born within two hours of the mother starting active labor, and there should be no more than one hour between puppies or kittens. But, if you see a baby stuck in the birth canal, take them to an ER right away. See our link on dystocia for more information.
Of course, there are many other problems that pets can have. Dogs and cats can get into some very odd predicaments that may also use ER care. The dog that gets a tin can stuck to its tongue or the bone lodged around its lower jaw will be happier if they can get them removed as soon as possible!
If you are concerned about your pet's symptoms, please call MEAC at 706-632-7879.