Have you ever wondered if your pet’s illness requires emergency veterinary attention? While some situations, such as choking, trouble breathing, or uncontrolled bleeding, are obviously urgent, other scenarios may not be as clear. If you’re ever unsure whether you should seek care for your pet, never hesitate to contact Emerald Animal Hospital for guidance. In the meantime, keep an eye out for these five surprising pet emergencies—including what you should do if your pet experiences one. 

Pets who cannot urinate

Pet owners are commonly concerned about their pet’s urinary issues—in both dogs and cats. In most cases, urination problems warrant a visit to the veterinarian sooner than later, but some signs require immediate attention. Common signs of an emergency urinary issue include:

  • Straining to urinate—this can often look as if the pet is trying to defecate
  • Frequent attempts to urinate
  • Urinating in abnormal or inappropriate places
  • Blood in the urine
  • Excessive genital licking

In many cases, these signs indicate a urinary tract infection or bladder inflammation. 

However, a pet who is unable to urinate, which occurs when there is a blockage, forbidding urine from passing, is considered a veterinary emergency, and occurs most commonly in adult male cats. Urinary blockage signs are not always obvious to pet owners, but most affected pets will display other abnormal behaviors, such as decreased appetite, lethargy, or vocalizing, often in the litter box, which should prompt pet owners to seek treatment. Urinary blockages can quickly lead to lethal blood abnormalities, so an “unblocking” procedure must be initiated immediately. If your pet exhibits abnormal urination patterns, don’t ignore them—contact our veterinary team as soon as possible, to prevent a concerning situation from developing into an emergent one. 

Pets who are vomiting

Most pet owners will witness their pets vomiting from time to time—and often, these cases don’t require emergency care. However, when vomiting becomes frequent or intractable, you’ll want to head to our veterinarian immediately. Like the urinary system, the gastrointestinal tract can become blocked, usually by foreign objects, food, or other disease processes. These situations are most common in younger dogs who chew on toys or other objects around the home. A blockage can lead to decreased blood flow to areas of the gut—a painful, life-threatening situation. If you observe your pet vomiting, contact Emerald Animal Hospital for advice. If your pet’s signs are accompanied by extreme lethargy, pale or blue gums, or unresponsiveness, head to your nearest veterinary emergency center immediately. 

Pets unable to walk

Pets commonly limp temporarily when they experience a small sprain or step on something sharp. However, dragging a limb, or being unable to rise or walk, could indicate a serious problem, such as a spinal cord injury, bone fracture, or saddle thrombus (i.e., a blood clot that blocks blood supply to the hind limbs). These conditions are not only painful, but could also lead to irreversible problems, if not treated promptly. If your pet develops acute signs of severe lameness or pain, contact your veterinarian right away. 

Pets who ingest certain toxic foods

Some human foods are perfectly safe for furry friends—others are not. Knowing which ingredients could harm your pet could save their life, so do them a favor, and steer clear of the following:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions and garlic
  • Chocolate—the darker, the more toxic
  • Yeast 
  • Xylitol 

Certain human foods may cause only mild gastrointestinal upset, but others can lead to acute kidney failure, or dangerously low blood sugar. If you suspect your pet has ingested a dangerous food, take note of the food type and amount eaten, and contact our veterinary team, or the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), right away. When it comes to toxic foods and pets, don’t delay seeking veterinary help. 

Pets who pant or drool excessively

Heatstroke signs can mimic other serious conditions, such as gastrointestinal bloat, or severe pain. Exaggerated panting, drooling, and lethargy are telltale signs that your pet needs urgent help. If your pet has been outdoors on a hot day, and is showing heat stroke signs, do the following:

  • Bathe or hose your pet down with cool—not cold—water 
  • Direct a fan toward your pet, to encourage evaporative cooling
  • Take your pet’s rectal temperature
  • Offer fresh, cool water to drink
  • Contact Emerald Animal Hospital, or your nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency

If your pet is exhibiting signs like panting, drooling, or lethargy without exposure to excessive heat, they could be suffering from gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. This uncomfortable condition can cause pain, decreased blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, and heart arrhythmias. Don’t ignore these signs, and seek help immediately. 

At Emerald Animal Hospital, we’re here for your pet—in sickness and in health. That’s why we encourage you to contact us anytime you are unsure about your pet’s wellbeing. Since some seemingly minor situations can quickly become dire, play it safe, and never hesitate to speak to one of our veterinary professionals.