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9 Signs Your Pet Should Go To the Emergency Room

As a pet owner, you are responsible for keeping your pet safe and healthy. It can be hard to discern what symptoms warrant a visit to the emergency vet, so we’ve outlined a few telltale signs that your pet needs medical assistance.

When to Take Your Pet to An Emergency Vet

It’s important to note that if you notice any unusual changes in your pet’s behavior or health, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. Medical emergencies may or may not include symptoms on this list, so be sure to have a watchful eye on your pet if you suspect something is wrong.

Trouble Urinating or Defecating

Your pet’s diet and exercise levels play a huge role in their bathroom habits, irregular bowel movements can indicate something more serious. Constipation, foul-smelling urine, or bloody stool may start off mild but can lead to serious complications if not checked out by a veterinarian. If at any time, your animal is straining or unable to urinate, please seek veterinary care immediately.

Seizures or Collapsing

The length of a seizure can determine how quickly your pet needs to see a veterinarian. Episodes lasting 2 minutes or more, or multiple episodes within 24 hours should be considered a medical emergency. Keep a medical history for your pet by noting each episode or instance of unusual behavior.

Not Being Able to Stand or Dragging Hind Legs

There are many reasons why your pet may have difficulty standing or walking, with some more serious than others. Toxicity, injury, orthopedic, or neurologic troubles can affect your pet’s ability to stand or walk normally. It is always important to seek immediate care if your pet is suddenly having difficulty standing or walking.

Sudden Loss of Appetite, Vomiting or Diarrhea

While a loss of appetite isn’t always a cause for concern, it can be a symptom of more serious issues. However, if your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea and hasn’t improved within 24 hours, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Constant Squinting

Squinting in one eye is a sign your pet is experiencing pain or discomfort. Excessive blinking, rubbing, or scratching of the eyes are other symptoms and should be checked out as soon as possible. The most common eye problems for pets include:

  • Corneal ulcer or scratch
  • Dry eye
  • Foreign objects in the eye
  • Glaucoma
  • Anterior uveitis (inflammation of the iris)

Difficulty Breathing

Labored breathing is often caused by a respiratory issue, but can indicate other problems that range from mild (allergies) to severe (congestive heart failure). Excessive panting, an abdominal effort to breathe, a wide-open mouth, or an extended/blue tongue are all signs that your pet is having a hard time breathing and should see a veterinarian right away.

Swollen Limbs

Swollen limbs can result from a wide range of potential causes (examples including unidentified allergies, immune-mediated diseases, cancers, or injury) and should be checked out as soon as possible. If your pet is in pain or limping and doesn’t improve within 24 hours, it’s important to get them to your veterinarian.

Excessive Panting

Dogs (and cats) pant as a way to cool themselves down, but excessive panting could be a sign that something else is wrong. Give your pet the opportunity to rest and calm down before calling your veterinarian. If your pet continues to heavily pant, it may be a sign of heat stroke, underlying health issues, or trauma.

Whining or Shaking More than Usual

If your pet has suddenly become more vocal than usual or is suddenly unable to settle, take a look at their behavior. Are they shaking, limping, or showing other signs of pain or discomfort? Whining is one of the few ways our pets communicate with us, so it’s important to pay attention—even if we think it’s for no reason.

Emergency Care For When You Need It Most

Our team at Care First Animal Hospital is equipped to handle your pet’s emergency. We’re proud to provide the Triangle with emergency care and services that put your pet’s health first. Contact us today to learn more about our veterinary services and schedule an appointment.

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