If your pet develops a sudden limp, or seems uninterested in their food, you no doubt become worried, and may consider a trip to an emergency veterinary hospital in the middle of the night. However, not all pet issues are cause for immediate concern, and less urgent problems can be treated at the next available appointment at Scripps Ranch Veterinary Hospital. But, how do you tell the difference between emergencies and concerns that can wait? Our team can help determine the urgency of your pet’s condition. We also suggest seeking immediate care if your furry pal has developed one of the following 10 pet emergencies. 

#1: Your pet is having difficulty breathing

If you think your pet is not breathing normally, don’t delay in seeking treatment. Brachycephalic (i.e., flat-nosed) pets, and those with heart or respiratory conditions, are more prone to breathing problems. Pets with breathing difficulties may stretch their neck out, flare their nostrils, or open their mouth. Panting is common in dogs, but excessive, heavy panting can be a sign of heatstroke or other respiratory issue. In cats, panting is almost always a concern.

#2: Your pet is in pain

Pain can appear in many forms, depending on where your pet hurts. Limping, inappetence, a hunched back, depression, and aggression are common signs of pain in pets. Behavioral changes can also indicate your furry pal is in pain, so take careful note if your pet changes from happy to grumpy. 

#3: Your pet is straining to urinate

This emergency can be tricky, since straining to urinate can easily be confused with straining to defecate. Pet owners often believe their pets have diarrhea and are attempting to defecate, when they’re actually struggling to urinate. However, your pet who is producing little to no urine is experiencing a true emergency that requires immediate care. Male cats, in particular, can develop a urinary blockage that can quickly become life-threatening if not treated. 

#4: Your pet was exposed to a toxin

Toxins, from foods and chemicals, to household supplies and water-borne pathogens, seriously threaten your pet’s health. When in doubt, contact an animal poison control hotline, like the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, for advice. 

#5: Your pet is having an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions can be caused by insects, chemicals, medications, food, or virtually any substance your pet encounters. Allergic reaction signs can include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Hives
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapse

While some allergic reactions can be treated with oral medication at home, others require injectable medications. Contact our Scripps Ranch Veterinary Hospital team for advice.

#6: Your pet is bleeding

A minor scrape isn’t cause for concern, but a pet with a wound that fails to clot and continues to bleed after a bandage application needs urgent care. Stop bleeding by applying firm pressure for three minutes with a clean bandage. If the wound continues to bleed, your pet requires veterinary treatment.

#7: Your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea

A single vomiting or diarrhea episode usually isn’t an issue for pets, but prolonged gastrointestinal issues need prompt treatment, especially if your pet is excessively vomiting or having serious diarrhea events in a short time. In addition, blood in the stool or vomit clearly indicates that urgent care is needed.

#8: Your pet has developed an eye issue

Ocular issues can quickly progress and cause permanent damage to your pet’s eye. If your furry pal is squinting, rubbing at their eye, or producing excessive eye discharge, schedule an emergency appointment. 

#9: Your pet is having seizures

Seeing your pet have a seizure is scary, and you may be tempted to put them in your car and head to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. But, be careful when handling a pet who is having, or has had, a seizure, which can make your pet confused and disoriented, and they may bite or scratch. If your pet has multiple seizures in a short time, despite medication, or this is their first seizure, they need emergency care. Veterinary Specialty Hospital or VCA Animal Specialty Group can provide immediate care.

#10: Your pet has a bloated abdomen and is attempting to vomit

Gastric bloat is an emergency situation that requires immediate, life-saving treatment. A pet’s stomach can become filled with air, and potentially flip on itself, causing the pet to go into shock. Bloat is much more common in large, deep-chested dogs, but can occur in any pet, including cats. If you notice your pet bloating abdominally and struggling to vomit, seek immediate care at Veterinary Specialty Hospital or VCA Animal Specialty Group.

Not all pet emergency issues are clear cut, so contact our Scripps Ranch Veterinary Hospital team for help triaging your four-legged friend’s condition over the phone. We’ll guide you on whether your pet needs urgent care, or if you can schedule an appointment at a later date.