A lot of pet owners call emergency clinics, their primary care vets, or family/friends with the question, “My pet is _____, is this an emergency?” Working at two emergency clinics myself, there are times I worry that the animal isn’t going to reach us because the owner took the time to contact these people. So please make yourself familiar with what signs to look for with immediate emergency cases (cases you shouldn’t wait around with), emergency cases (those that still need to be seen and not wait till your primary care vet opens), and those cases that may be able to wait till your primary care vet opens (depending on the day).
The first piece of advise I am going to give is if you do have any questions about anything that isn’t on this list, please don’t feel embarrassed to call and ask questions. That’s what we are here for. Please note that not even a veterinarian can give medical advise though without seeing the animal in question. We can advise the animal to be seen or tell you some minor information. I can tell you that I work in the South Eastern part of the USA and even had someone from my state that was traveling in Europe call me from Europe to ask questions. We will always do our best to help in every way. But also know that you know your pet best. You will notice the little signs before your veterinarian will. These may be the beginning signs to something bigger so always keep an eye on your animal.
When should I bring my pet in IMMEDIATELY?
- Your pet has experienced any kind of trauma.
- Your pet is bleeding and your can’t stop the blood flow.
- Your pet isn’t breathing or your can’t feel a heartbeat.
- Your pet is having trouble breathing or has something stuck in the throat. (Check the pets gums. If they are not pink, then you need to go in immediately. This includes pale pale, muddy, blue-ish, grey, etc. Anything that isn’t your pets normal gum color. Please note that some pets have pigmented gums.)
- Your pet is unconscious or won’t respond/wake up.
- Your pet has had or is having a seizure.
- Your pet ingested rat poison. (Do NOT induce vomiting.)
- Your pet ingested your prescription medications. (Do not induce vomiting unless a vet or Pet Poison Hotline told you to.)
Other emergencies that shouldn’t wait…
- Your pet has vomited greater than twice in 24 hours or is vomiting blood.
- Your pet has diarrhea greater than twice in 24 hours or is having bloody diarrhea.
- Your pet, especially male cats, is straining to urinate or can’t urinate.
- Your pet is showing signs of extreme pain (whining, shaking, and refusing to socialize).
- Your pet collapses or suddenly can’t stand up.
- Your pet starts bumping into things or suddenly becomes disoriented.
- Your pet gets attacked and injured by another animal of any kind (domestic or wild).
- Your pet receives electrical burns.
- You think your pet may have parvo (PLEASE call ahead and inform the staff that this may be the case and see what actions they want you to take.)
Where is the nearest emergency vet?
The website that half this list came from also has a neat widget where you enter your zip code and it will tell you the closest emergency clinics within 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 miles of your location.
Being prepared is the best thing. Have an idea of where to go in the case of an emergency. Have a single place that you keep all your pets paperwork that is easy to grab (this includes shot records). Make a first aid kit for your pet. This will vary with what is in it depending on what animal you have, but see the tab above with information on setting one up. Know your vets name and have an emergency fund ready. Some of these places accept CareCredit, but it is all ‘pay at time of service’. I understand that your pet is having an emergency, but we have to get paid too and we have so many people try not to pay.
Other important numbers to have on hand….
Animal Poison Hotline – 1-888-232-8870 ($35.00 per incident). The charge is billed to caller’s credit card only. Staffed 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are told to take your animal in, you will be given a case number and please bring this to the emergency clinic with you. The case will be a treatment plan set up for your animal. If you have a pet that ingested rat poison, don’t call, just come in.
ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center – 1-(888) 426-4435
($65.00 per case). The charge is billed directly to the caller’s phone.
National hotline for reporting lost pets – 1 800 Humane-1 (486-2631).
Please note that these operators are not on-site at the shelters but will be taking reports.
National Pesticide Telecommunications Network
Toll free number: 800-858-7378
Fax number: 541-737-0761
Web site: nptn.orst.edu
Service sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Oregon State University provides information about pesticide products and poisonings, toxicology, environmental chemistry, and other pesticide-related issues.
I have never used them before, but I figured I would add them at the bottom of the list.