It can be tough to differentiate between a true emergency and a situation that can wait when it comes to your furry pal’s health. Instead of trying to guess whether your pet needs immediate treatment, follow the list below from our team at Premier Pet Hospital to help determine when their problem has become an emergency. 

#1: Your pet is having a seizure

Seizures can be a scary thing for a pet owner to observe, particularly the first time. If you see your pet having a seizure, remain calm and promote a quiet environment by turning off the lights, TV, radio, or anything that is making noise. Avoid restraining your pet because they can bite you without realizing it, but protect them from falling off furniture or down the stairs. 

When it becomes an emergency: If your pet is having multiple seizures in a short period of time, experiencing their first seizure, or having a seizure for an extended period, they need urgent care.

#2: Your pet is vomiting

Pets vomit—it’s a fact of life. But when does vomiting become an issue that requires veterinary care or even emergency treatment? A vomiting episode here or there that resolves on its own without additional signs is generally not a reason to worry, but excessive vomiting can be a problem. 

When it becomes an emergency: If your pet is vomiting blood, has vomited multiple times in a short time frame, or is attempting to vomit without producing anything, they need emergency treatment. 

#3: Your pet is straining to urinate

A urinary tract infection or other disease can cause your pet to struggle to urinate, but it may not always be an emergency. As long as your pet is still producing—and passing—urine, they can likely wait until the next available appointment to receive treatment, but if no urine is being produced, the problem can quickly become fatal.  

When it becomes an emergency: If you notice your pet is not producing urine despite their attempts to urinate, they need immediate, life-saving care.

#4: Your pet appears to be in pain

If your pet is in pain, they may limp, arch their back, become irritable, or hide from you. Determining the reason for your pet’s pain may be challenging to do at home, so a thorough physical exam is best to detect the underlying cause. 

When it becomes an emergency: Although your pet is unlikely to die from pain, the condition causing the discomfort can be life-threatening. Seek emergency care if your pet appears to be in pain.

#5: Your pet is bleeding

Not all cuts, scrapes, and wounds need to be treated immediately, although it is best to take care of such injuries as soon as possible to prevent infection.

When it becomes an emergency: If bleeding does not stop after applying firm pressure for three continuous minutes, your pet needs immediate treatment.

#6: Your pet suffered a traumatic injury

If your pet was in a fight with another pet or was hit by a car, they may not appear to be too banged up. However, looks can be misleading and serious internal injuries may not be apparent. 

When it becomes an emergency: Any pet who has experienced a traumatic injury needs urgent care to determine the severity of their condition.

#7: Your pet is having difficulty breathing

Flat-faced pets, such as pugs, Persians, and bulldogs, typically have breathing issues, so it can be tough to tell when it becomes an emergency. 

When it becomes an emergency: If your pet is breathing harder or faster than usual, and their respiratory rate and effort are different from typical panting, seek immediate care. Blue or purple tongue and gums are indicative of low oxygen levels, and mean your pet needs emergency treatment.

#8: Your pet is having an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions can be caused by anything your pet comes in contact with, whether it’s a medication, food, chemical, or surface. Reactions can range from mild itching and hives to a swollen muzzle and respiratory distress.

When it becomes an emergency: If you notice your pet’s muzzle is swelling, or they are struggling to breathe normally, they need urgent care.

#9: Your pet was exposed to a toxin

Not all toxin exposure is life-threatening. For example, your pet may have eaten chocolate, which is a toxin, but it only becomes a problem if a toxic dose is consumed. Contact an animal poison control hotline first to determine if the substance your pet was exposed to is toxic in the amount they consumed.

When it becomes an emergency: Toxin exposure side effects vary greatly, so if you notice your pet having seizures, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or a sudden behavior change, they need immediate treatment.

#10: Your pet is having diarrhea

Pets often eat things they shouldn’t, and diarrhea can occur if the item does not agree with their gastrointestinal tract. A random bout of diarrhea is generally not a cause for concern, but it can become a serious problem. 

When it becomes an emergency: If your pet’s diarrhea is profuse, bloody, or paired with vomiting or other illness signs, seek emergency care.

Are you unsure whether your pet’s condition is an emergency? When in doubt, don’t delay—contact our Premier Pet Hospital team for help.