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Signs of a Medical Emergency in Pets

Just like for humans, accidents and emergencies can occur for family pets. Whether they eat something toxic, experience trauma, or show signs of disease, it is important for pet parents to be prepared. There are many signs that your pet may be experiencing a medical emergency. Pet owners should know these signs to be prepared in case of a medical emergency in their pets.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of a medical emergency will depend on a variety of things. For example, if your pet was in an accident, it may be obvious that they need immediate medical attention. However, some emergencies might be less obvious.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your pet, you should address it immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Blood in urine or feces 
  • Unconsciousness
  • Eyes appear swollen, red, or cloudy
  • Slow or rapid heartbeat 
  • Sudden blindness
  • Collapse
  • Hives or facial swelling
  • Seizures
  • Signs of heat stroke
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Ingesting toxic substance
  • Constant vomiting
  • Vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours
  • Cannot stand or walk
  • Change in body temperature

There are additional reasons your pet may need emergency care. For example, if your pet is pregnant and experiencing complications, you should take them to an emergency hospital. Additionally, your pet should receive immediate medical attention if they experienced an accident or trauma like being hit by a car.

Each of these symptoms could mean your pet is suffering from any number of medical conditions. For example, if your pet is unconscious with a slow or rapid pulse, your pet could be suffering from cardiac arrest. They could also have a parasite-related issue, such as heartworm disease. Like humans, the list of potential health issues is never-ending. Seek help immediately, so that a diagnosis can be made, and a treatment plan started.

Although some situations may not be a medical emergency, if your pet has a sudden change in behavior, they may have some underlying medical issues that need to be addressed. In this case, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a check-up soon after your pet shows minor signs that something may be wrong. 

What You Should Do If Your Pet Shows These Symptoms

If you notice that your pet is showing these signs, you should act immediately. Call your veterinarian or a 24-hour veterinary hospital. For pets that have suffered a trauma, you will want to be cautious because they may be aggressive. Approach them slowly and say their name. Use caution when lifting them, making sure to support their neck and back. If your pet is aggressive, call for help.

First Aid Kit

Your pet may need veterinary attention as soon as possible; however, there may be a few first aid techniques that will help stabilize your pet. For instance, if there is significant bleeding, apply pressure to the wound to lessen the bleeding.

Your pet may grab hold of food or another foreign object that they should not have, which can lead to choking. You can try removing the object by gently reaching into your pet’s mouth or throat. If you cannot reach the object, try putting your arms around their belly and pushing firmly up just below the ribcage. This action will act as a modified Heimlich maneuver and should dislodge the object.

If you remove the object but your pet is still unconscious, there are more steps you can take. Check their breathing and heart rate. If they are not breathing, you can perform CPR on your pet. To do this, place your pet on their side and blow into their nostrils while holding the mouth shut. If you don’t feel a heartbeat, you can try chest compressions. You will want to do three quick compressions for every artificial respiratory breath you administer.

Your pet may ingest something toxic such as chocolate or a cleaning product. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435. They will give you instructions for how to proceed based on your pet’s age and breed, what they ingested, and how much they ingested.

24-Hour Emergency Care

When pet parents notice a medical emergency for their furry friends, they should seek help right away. Many veterinarians are only open during business hours. If the incident occurs during these times, call your vet to ask what the next steps should be. They will have insight into your pet’s age, breed, and medical history. Your vet might suggest bringing your pet into their clinic or taking them to an emergency hospital.

Unfortunately, if the incident happens after hours, you must seek emergency care at the closest animal hospital as soon as possible. Serious conditions can progress or worsen quickly, so it is important to take immediate action. Remaining calm will help your pet cooperate and help soothe stress for both of you.

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