How Do I Know When It’s Really an Emergency?
Q. There are no 24-hour emergency veterinary clinics in my area. My veterinary hospital says it’s OK to call at night if it’s an emergency, but how do I know if it’s really an emergency?A. If you’re not a veterinarian yourself, it can sometimes be hard to tell a mild health problem from an emergency. But there are a few guidelines I can offer. You need to call your veterinarian if your pet has any of the following symptoms:
- Seizure, fainting or collapse.
- Eye injury, no matter how mild.
- Vomiting or diarrhea — anything more than two or three times within an hour or so.
- Allergic reactions, such as swelling around the face, or hives, most easily seen on the belly.
- Any suspected poisoning, including antifreeze, rodent or snail bait, or human medication. Cats are especially sensitive to insecticides (such as flea-control medication for dogs) or any petroleum distillate, such as kerosene and gasoline.
- Snake or venomous spider bites.
- Thermal stress — from being either too cold or too hot — even if the pet seems to have recovered. (The internal story could be quite different.)
- Any wound or laceration that is open and bleeding, or any animal bite.
- Trauma, such as being hit by a car, even if the pet seems fine. (Again, the situation could be quite different on the inside.)
- Any respiratory problem, such as sudden, prolonged coughing, trouble breathing or near drowning.
- Straining to urinate or defecate.
- Hunched-up appearance indicating abdominal pain, especially if the belly seems tight or distended.