When to Visit an Emergency Vet With Your Cat or Dog

If your pet is unwell or hurt, it can be difficult to tell whether waiting to see your regular vet is ok, or whether you should take them to the emergency vet immediately. Today our Edgewater vets share 5 signs that your pet may need emergency vet care.

When should I take my pet to the emergency vet?

It's every pet owner's worst nightmare: it's late at night or on a long weekend, and your canine companion suddenly becomes ill. The problem is that you don't know if the injury or illness is serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency vet, or if your pet will be fine until you can get to your regular vet.

To help you decide when to take your pet to the emergency vet here are a few symptoms that pet parents should never ignore:

Hard Swollen Abdomen

Your pet's abdomen may become hard and swollen (or bloated) for a variety of reasons, ranging from heart failure or liver dysfunction to uterine infection, internal bleeding, or 'bloat.' Ignoring signs of a bloated abdomen in pets is never a good idea. If your pet has a bloated abdomen, it's time to take him or her to the emergency vet.

If your pet’s stomach becomes bloated, and you see other symptoms such as pacing, repeated unsuccessful attempts at vomiting, or saliva coming back up, your pet may be suffering from Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV), also known as "Stomach Torsion," or “pet Bloat.” Bloat is a very serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention!

Exposure to Toxins

Many common human foods, medications, household products, and garden plants are poisonous to pets. It's best not to wait until your pet becomes severely ill if you find them eating something they shouldn't. Call your veterinarian right away! When it comes to poisons, prompt treatment is critical for positive outcomes.

A few of the most common toxins are: 

  • Over-the-counter medications such as pain-killers
  • The artificial sweetener Xylitol
  • Avocados
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes & Raisins
  • Slug bait
  • Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs
  •  Azaleas and rhododendrons

Extreme Pain

Pain is always a medical emergency! If your pet is clearly in pain, such as vocalizing, panting, drooling, or limping, do not let him or her suffer needlessly. When your pet is in pain, it's time to take him or her to the emergency vet.

Vomiting & Diarrhea

All pets vomit at some point, and most have the occasional loose stool; however, repeated bouts of vomiting or diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration, which can be fatal. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be signs of more serious conditions like poisoning or gastrointestinal obstruction. If your pet is vomiting or passing loose stool on a regular basis, contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian immediately.

If you have a young puppy it's extremely important to watch for signs of Parvo. Parvo in puppies is a common disease with potentially deadly consequences. If your puppy is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting call your vet or emergency vet immediately! Parvo is extremely contagious, be sure to let the vet know your suspicions so that they can take appropriate quarantine measures to protect other animals.

Inability to Urinate

An inability (or reluctance) to urinate could indicate a bladder infection or something far more serious. While bladder infections can be excruciatingly painful for pets, they are not fatal. However, the inability to urinate may indicate that your pet's urinary tract has become obstructed by bladder stones. If your pet is unable to urinate, they are most likely in pain and require immediate veterinary care. As soon as possible, contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian.

Ultimately, it will be up to you whether to take your pet to the emergency veterinary clinic or to your vet for an emergency appointment. However, when it comes to protecting your pet's health we always feel that it's better to err on the side of caution, when in doubt contact your emergency vet for help.

The Cost of an Emergency Vet Visit

The cost of an emergency visit depends on numerous factors, like the severity of your pet's ailment and whether or not they will need surgery. Speak to your veterinarian or your emergency vet for a more accurate estimate of the cost.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is in need of urgent care during our regular hours, call us immediately or bring your pet in as soon as possible. Starting treatment right away may help to reduce recovery time and may even save a life.