For most pet parents, the mere prospect of a companion animal becoming sick or injured can be frightening. In the event of an emergency, many pet parents feel powerless to help, not knowing what to do to improve the likelihood of a good outcome. However, you are not powerless to assist, and with minimal preparation and some helpful knowledge, you can help your companion animal successfully navigate an emergency situation.
First of all, what constitutes an emergency? Many pet parents are unsure and often fail to seek appropriate treatment after an emergency, thus hampering your pet’s chance for a positive outcome. Conversely, some become anxious over a problem that may not need immediate attention. Reasons to seek immediate care for your companion animal include:
-profuse, bloody diarrhea or continuous vomiting
-abdominal swelling, restless behavior or retching (especially in large breed dogs)
-an inability to urinate (any species)
-consumption of poison, such as rat bait or antifreeze
-trauma, such as a car accident or injuries sustained from another animal (like a deep bite wound, etc.)
-breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, extending head or neck to breathe, or wheezing
-seizures, convulsions or fainting
-eye problems, such as foreign objects in the eye, loss of vision, squinting or sudden appearance of cloudiness in the eye
If your pet is experiencing any of these signs, you likely have an emergency and the most important thing for you to do is stay calm. Don’t panic! Your pet is likely frightened or experiencing pain, and will need calm and reassuring words from you. Be alert and breathe. Keep your eyes open and assess the situation. The more you know, the more you will be in control.
The second most important thing to do is be prepared. You often can’t prevent emergencies from happening, but you can help decide the outcome. Watch this video for more information as Dr. Sarah details the steps to take before and during an emergency situation. You may also want to print and retain Dr. Sarah’s “Tips for Emergency Situations” and “Recognize the Signs of Shock (Requires Immediate Vet Care)” documents for future reference.