Pets are great at getting into trouble. And it seems like they often wait until the most inconvenient time to get hurt or get sick. Should you call your veterinarian after hours, or should you wait until the morning? This list will help you decide if your pet is having an emergency.
Is It An Emergency?
If your pet has any of these problems, call us (or your regular veterinarian) right away.
- Severe bleeding, or bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes. Most of the time, bleeding from a cut, scrape, broken nail, or other wound is not a big problem, and should stop on its own (or with gentle pressure) in a few minutes. If your pet has been bleeding for 5 minutes, call us to find out what else you can do or if we need to see your pet.
- Choking, difficulty breathing, or consistent coughing and gagging. Choking is uncommon in pets, but they can certainly have other problems that make it difficult to breathe. Having trouble breathing is always an emergency, and you should call right away.
- Bleeding from the mouth, nose, or rectum, or coughing up blood, or blood in the urine. These can all be scary sights. Many times it is not truly an emergency, but something that needs to be seen the next time we are open. A phone call will help us determine what might be going on, and decide if it is something that needs to be seen right away or can wait overnight.
- Inability to urinate or pass feces, or obvious pain associated with going to the bathroom. Inability to pass feces is not often an emergency, but will need treatment soon. Inability to urinate, especially in a male cat, is an emergency. Call your veterinarian right away if your pet can’t pass feces or urine.
- An eye injury. Eye injuries can be very difficult to manage. It is best to evaluate and begin treatment on an eye injury as soon as possible.
- Your pet has eaten something poisonous. If you know – or even suspect – that your pet has eaten something poisonous (house plants, xylitol, chocolate, antifreeze, rat poison, or many others), call your veterinarian right away. We can give you advice on what to do at home, and will know if your pet needs immediate medical attention or can wait until the morning.
- Seizures. If your pet has had seizures in the past, and you know what to do, this is not an emergency. Call us the next time we are open to discuss other treatment options for your pet. If your pet has never had a seizure before, or if the seizure is lasting for 3 minutes or longer, call us right away. We will tell you what to expect from the seizure, and can discuss if your pet needs to be seen tonight or can wait until the morning.
- Severe lameness, unable to move a leg, or you suspect a broken leg. Many times leg injuries are not emergencies, but occasionally they are. If your pet has a hurt leg, call us. If it is something that needs to be seen right away, we can decide on the phone. Otherwise, we can give you recommendations for overnight, and will plan to see you and your pet first thing in the morning.
- Heat stress or heat stroke. This is always an emergency. Call us right away if you notice any of these signs of heat stroke in your pet.
- Not drinking for 24 hours. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, especially during warm weather. Not drinking is a sign of another problem. If you know that your pet has had nothing to drink for 24 hours, call us.
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea. Occasonal vomiting or diarrhea is not an emergency. But if your pet has vomited or had diarrhea more than twice in the last 24 hours, or has vomiting and/or diarrhea with any of the other signs listed here, call us. We’ll decide together if your pet needs to be seen tonight or can wait until the morning.
- Unconscious. If your pet is unconscious and can’t be woken up, this is an emergency. Call us right away.
- Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what is wrong, but it is obvious that your pet just isn’t right. If your dog or cat is showing signs of pain or stress, even if you don’t know why, call us. (Review these signs of anxiety in cats, and these signs of anxiety in dogs.) We can help figure out what might be wrong and make a plan together.
Any time you are concerned about your pet, even if his symptoms are not on this list, call us (or your regular veterinarian).We have a veterinarian on call for emergencies any time we are closed. Call our regular number and follow the phone prompts to reach the on-call veterinarian. Our vets will ask you questions about what is going on with your pet. In some cases, we may suggest that you pet needs to be seen right away. In other cases, we may recommend that you keep your pet at home for the night, but bring him in first thing in the morning.