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Common Pet Emergencies to Never Overlook

Hi Everyone! A few months ago Carrie called me on a Saturday night in a complete panic and in tears.  She was at a wedding in Miami, and her dog-sitter told her that Newman didn’t look well and had vomited a few times.  Well after asking Carrie some more questions about what was going on with him, she proceeded to tell me that he really had been vomiting all day but that she was hoping he would “get over it.”  Thanks Carrie, so typical (although I can’t make Carrie feel too badly when I do the same thing to Katie when my son, Luke has a medical “emergency”)!  So what do I do? I drive over to her apartment, pick up Newman, take him to my house and examine him to make sure he is well enough to wait until the following day for treatment.   Unfortunately, not everyone has a sister veterinarian who can drop everything on a Saturday night to assess whether your pet has an emergency!

Of course it always seems that your pet has a medical emergency at the most inopportune times…on a Sunday when your vet is closed, at 8:00 PM after business hours, or at 3 am when you are trying to sleep. I regularly receive after hours emergency calls on my cell phone to determine whether your pet has a real emergency and needs to be seen at an ER.  About 20% of these phone calls are true emergencies and the other 80% percent can wait until the next morning to see me in the office. I get great pleasure in saving my clients time and money by helping them avoid a trip to the 24 hour emergency hospital (which tends to be a lot more expensive than your family vet). So, the following are some health conditions which will help you assess whether you have a true emergency:

Pet Emergency – Go to the After-hours Animal Hospital if Your Pet has Any of the Following

  1. Any type of respiratory distress- if you believe your pet is having a difficult time breathing, their gums and tongue look a blue or pale and not the pink color they should look, their necks are stretched out, they are gasping for air, or they are coughing continuously, you have an emergency!
  2. Excessive vomiting- if your pet appears to be stable and not in distress, a few episodes of vomiting can generally wait for the morning. However, if your pet is uncomfortable, appears bloated, is gagging, or is vomiting quite frequently, this is an emergency!
  3. Severe lethargy and/or collapse are emergencies!
  4. More than one seizure- if your pet begins having multiple seizures in a row, this is an emergency!
  5. Severe abdominal pain or any pain- if your pet cannot get comfortable, is pacing and appears to be in a lot of pain, this is an emergency!
  6. Toxicities- if your pet got into rat poisonings, cleaning products, human medications or other possible toxicities, you have an emergency!
  7. Paralysis- if your pet cannot walk or is dragging any limbs, this is an emergency!
  8. Accidents/Trauma- if your pet was hit by a car, involved in a fight or experienced a traumatic event, your pet should be taken to the emergency hospital.
  9. Squinting and excessive redness of the eye- this is an emergency and needs to be evaluated right away.


These are some general guidelines.  As a rule, I always trust my client’s perspective and feelings regarding their pets. If your pet does not have one of the conditions listed above, but you don’t feel right, do not hesitate to have them evaluated immediately by a veterinarian.  After all, you know your pets the best.  I hope this helps with avoiding a dreaded trip to the ER, or going to the ER when your pet can wait to be seen by your family vet.  Never hesitate to contact a veterinarian if you have any questions.  Have a great weekend everyone!

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