Pet Emergency Information
There are a number of illnesses your pet may contract that should be seen quickly by a veterinarian. If your pet is in distress or is unresponsive, immediately take them to the nearest veterinarian.
Nationwide Animal Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435 (Fee-Based Call Center)
Pet Poison Helpline: 800-213-6680 (Fee-Based Call Center)
Generally, dogs and cats don't have very good sense when it comes to what they eat. Many items, which are perfectly safe for the rest of the family, may cause problems with the family pets.
- Chocolate - Chocolate contains two chemicals which are toxic to dogs. Theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical in the cocoa bean can cause vomiting, restlessness and muscle tremors. In high doses it may cause seizures, coma and even death. Chocolate also contains high levels of caffeine which can cause similar problems. Severity of the poisoning depends on the type of chocolate, size of the animal and amount of chocolate ingested. A veterinarian should be contacted immediately to weigh these risks.
- Medication - Dogs and cats have much different body chemistries than people, and medication will affect them differently from humans. If your dog or cat ingests any amount of medication not specifically prescribed for them, contact a veterinarian.
- Plants - Many plants, indoor and outdoor, contain chemicals which may be harmful to pets. If you notice your pet ingesting plants or parts of the plants, including seeds, flowers, or leaves, immediately stop them and try to identify what type of plant it is. A list of poisonous plants may be found at the University of Pennsylvania website. If you are unable to find the plant, or find that it is toxic, contact a veterinarian.
- Poison - Pets who regularly venture outside may come in contact with poisons meant for pests or vermin. Rat poison is the most common type of ingested poison. Rat poison works by inhibiting clotting of the blood. Size of the animal, and the amount and type of poison all play a part in how bad the toxicity is. Ant poison will rarely cause issues with pets due to their size, but many are encased in plastic containers which may have been shattered and ingested. A veterinarian should always be contacted if you believe that your pet ingested any type of poison.
- Antifreeze - A common toxin seen in veterinary practices is antifreeze due to its sweet taste and common appearance in garages. The toxic ingredient is ethylene glycol, which attacks the liver and kidneys. There is a test for ethylene glycol, but it must be done quickly after ingestion. If you believe your pet has ingested antifreeze, consult a veterinarian immediately as it can cause lethal toxicity within a few hours if not treated.
Hit By Car
Pets being hit by cars are one of the most common trauma-related injuries treated in our practice. Even traveling slowly, cars can cause damage to pets including broken bones, internal bleeding and external trauma. A veterinarian should see any pet that has been hit by a car, even if they were only grazed or seem to be acting normally afterwards.
Male Cats with Difficulty Urinating
One of the most common problems we see in cats is the male cat having difficulty urinating. The issue is generally a buildup of Mucus and grit in the urethra that blocks the ability for urine to be passed from the body. Common symptoms include a crying meow, constant trips to the litter box, and squatting without producing urine. This is an emergency situation and you should immediately bring your pet to a veterinary facility. With the buildup of pressure, the urine will begin to backup into the kidneys causing kidney failure and severe electrolyte abnormalities that cause problems with the heart beating, and in severe cases may cause rupture of the bladder or death.
Seizures are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. This can be brought on by infection, trauma, toxicity, environmental condition (excessive heat, etc.) or by a metabolic disorder, including epilepsy or diabetes. If you notice your pet having a seizure for the first time, contact a veterinarian immediately. Based on how your pet recovers from the seizure and their history, the veterinarian may or may not wish for you to immediately have the pet checked out. Seizures usually last between thirty seconds and five minutes, and it is helpful to track any seizure for time and frequency to help the veterinarian with a diagnosis. If your pet stays in a seizure for more than five minutes or is having multiple seizures (called clustering), seek veterinary help immediately.
Animal fights can be started and over in an instant. But in that time, serious damage can occur. Cuts, puncture wounds, and crushing damage are all injuries to consider in a dog or cat fight. Wounds should be explored and cleaned, and antibiotics are usually dispensed.
Bloat - Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)
Bloat is one of the most serious emergencies that strikes dogs, not only for the potential for serious damage, but also because of how quickly the disorder progresses. Bloat is caused by the stomach twisting on itself (volvulus) and then becoming filled with gas (distension). The twisting causes blood vessels that supply the stomach and spleen to be knotted, and to restrict blood flow to the organs. If not corrected, this leads to necrosis and organ death. Symptoms of bloat include visible enlargement of the abdomen, non-productive retching, repetitive stretching, and restless discomfort, and usually strikes deep-chested dogs like German Shepherds or Great Danes. Emergency surgery to put the stomach back in its normal position is the standard treatment. Bloat is a time-sensitive disorder and can kill a dog; if you feel your dog has bloat, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Allergic reactions in pets are very similar to allergic reactions in people. Generally, they present with facial swelling, hives, and redness around the eyes or itching. Causes can be from medication, insect bites, vaccinations, or other allergens. Treatment is usually very straightforward, but the condition should be taken seriously due to the possibility of swelling, causing breathing difficulties.
Collapse/Down in Rear
Loss of motor control can have many possible causes. Some may be tied to aging or arthritis, but causes can also be life-threatening situations. Spinal injury, stroke or localized blood clots (thromboses) can all cause loss of motor function. These are all serious conditions which require veterinary intervention. If your pet is experiencing a sudden difficulty with walking or standing or a loss of motor control, call a veterinarian immediately.
Rattlesnake bites generally occur in the spring, summer, and early fall. If you have either seen, or suspect, that your pet has been bitten treat it as a medical emergency! Rattlesnake bites are serious and can be fatal. Pets respond best if treated within a few hours of being bitten. Check for the following symptoms: sudden significant swelling in the area of the bite; significant pain at the site of the bite; a trickle of blood from the bite wound; bruising in the area of the bite. Do not attempt any home remedies. A veterinarian can perform the appropriate medical analysis, treatments, and inject antivenin if needed.
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract of puppies and dogs. It is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces, environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. Dogs infected with virus usually show signs of lethargy; loss of appetite; fever; vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease found in dogs and cats that have eaten infected rabbits or rodents. Infected fleas and ticks can transmit tularemia to dogs and cats. Dogs appear to be fairly resistant to the disease and the only symptoms may be loss of appetite, listlessness, and a low fever. Cats are more susceptible and may develop high fevers and swollen lymph nodes. Puppies and kittens are usually more severely affected than older animals. There is no home cure for tularemia. Diagnosed pets require veterinary care. Due to the potential contagious nature of the disease from pets to humans, any diagnosed animal should be handled very carefully and your veterinarian contacted immediately.
Plague is an infectious bacterial disease that affects animals and humans. This bacterium is often transmitted to dogs and cats by infected fleas. Signs that a pet has plague include fever, sneezing,
coughing, and the appearance of lumps around the head and neck. Your veterinarian will take a blood test to find out if you pet has plague. Infected pets are usually treated with antibiotics and draining lymph nodes. Humans can also get plague which can become a serious illness. If you suspect your pet has plague, avoid close or constant contact with your pet and call your veterinarian immediately.