Knowing What to Do in Case of a Pet Emergency

What to Do for Your Pet in a Pet Emergency

Photo by Aaron Merrifield / CC BY-NC

Some may see the phrase “pet emergency” as the sudden desire to get a pet right away! While that might be a valid pet “emergency” to some, that’s not necessarily what I’m referring to here…

A pet emergency of any kind can be very alarming. That being said, if pet owners are informed of the proper means of action, they could be saving their pet’s life in an urgent situation. Take a look at our tips for pet care in an emergency.

General Tips

  • Call a Professional ASAP. As soon as you notice an unusual condition or anything that could be a cause for concern, the best thing you can do is call a professional right away. Keep the phone numbers of your vet, animal poison control or anyone else who may be of assistance saved in your phone so you can contact them quickly and easily.
  • Examine Your Pet Carefully. Once you are on the phone with a professional, they may ask you questions concerning your pet’s condition. If you need to take a closer look at your pet, be very slow and cautious. An irritated or pained pet is much more likely to bite or claw.
  • Transport with Caution. If you need to take your pet to a clinic, transporting them can be tricky. If you have a small pet, keep them confined by lifting them slowly and gently into their carrier. For larger pets, try to use a blanket, rug or board to act as a stretcher.

Conditions and Symptoms

We’ve put together a list of common health issues for pets, what the symptoms are and actions to take if your pet has it.

Pet Emergency

Photo by Sharon Morrow / CC BY-NC-ND

  • Bleeding (External)
    • Action – Use a thick, clean gauze pad to keep pressure on the wound. Bandage it there until you’ve taken your pet to the vet.
  • Bleeding (Internal)
    • Symptoms – Bleeding from mouth, nose or rectum, or blood from coughing, as well as a weak/rapid pulse or collapse.
    • Action – Keep the animal as still and quiet as possible until veterinarian assistance is available.
  • Burns
    • Action – Muzzle your pet. For chemical burns, flush the burned area with cool water as soon as possible. For other severe burns, compress the burn with ice water.
  • Dehydration
    • Symptoms – To tell if your pet is dehydrated, pull up slightly on the skin between their shoulder blades. It should rapidly fall back into place. If the skin stays tented, however, that means your pet is dehydrated.
    • Action – Dehydration could be a sign of a much more serious health condition. If your pet is dehydrated, take them to the vet immediately.
  • Heart Stroke/Exhaustion
    • Symptoms – Collapse, wobbliness, body temperature over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, bloody diarrhea or vomit, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate and increased salivation.
    • Action – Get a rag damp with cool water and place on the animal’s neck and head (you may need to ring it out and re-wet it several times) and pour cool water on the animals body – especially its paws.
  • Poisoning
    • Symptoms – Internal/external bleeding, dilated pupils, drooling/foaming mouth, seizures, abnormal mental state or behavior.
    • Action – Call your vet or animal poison control as soon as possible. Do NOT act unless they have given you specific instructions.
  • Seizure
    • Symptoms – Unusual or compulsive behavior or sudden unconsciousness.
    • Action – Call your vet. Avoid your pet’s mouth (they may bite), and keep the pet away from things that may harm them. Try to time the seizure so your vet can get an accurate read for the diagnosis. Keep your pet cool by placing a damp towel on their neck and water on their paws – this is important because animals can overheat in the case of an unusually long seizure.

Pet First Aid Kit

In case of an emergency, it is exceedingly helpful to have a small first aid kit prepared and ready to help your pet. Things to keep in a first aid kit include:

  • Taking Care of Your Pet in Case of a Pet Emergency

    Photo by Eadaoin O’Sullivan / CC BY-NC-SA

    Absorbent Gauze/Pads

  • Adhesive Tape
  • Antiseptic Wipes, Lotion, Powder or Spray
  • Blanket
  • Cotton Balls or Swabs
  • Digital Rectal Thermometer
  • Eye Dropper
  • First Aid Book for Pets
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Ice Pack
  • Leash
  • Milk of Magnesia (Absorbs Poison) – Do not use unless directly instructed by vet or professional.
  • Muzzle – Never use if pet is vomiting.
  • Non-Latex Disposable Gloves
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Scissors
  • Self-Cling Bandage – Do NOT use sticky bandages for humans on your animal.
  • Sterile Non-Stick Gauze Pads
  • Sterile Saline Solution
  • Tweezers
  • Pet Paperwork
  • Pillowcase –To swaddle cat if needed.
  • Pet Carrier

Hopefully you will not have very many pet emergencies, but you will be prepared if one arises. Ask your vet if there are any additional precautions you can take to ensure your pet’s safety in the future.

What other advice would you give about pet emergencies? Let us know in the comments below!

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