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Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Vet Care

It isn't always obvious if your pet is experiencing an emergency. In this blog our Stockton vets discuss the signs of a veterinary emergency and when you should take your pet to the vet.

If your pet is having an emergency contact your veterinarian or go to the nearest emergency animal clinic immediately.

How to Tell if Your Pet Requires Emergency Care?

Night or day, a situation that requires emergency care for your dog or cat could occur, and you'll have to be ready, for if-or-when it happens to your pet.

It can be challenging for pet owners to know when their dog or cat needs emergency vet care. That's why, knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency vet is necessary, is helpful. If you still aren't sure, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for advice.

Signs of a Veterinary Emergency

  • Obvious pain
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
  • Dilated pupils
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
  • Seizures
  • Loss of balance
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye
  • Unconsciousness

Applying First Aid

Remember that basic first aid on your cat or dog is not intended to replace veterinary care, it's just to stabilize your pet till you can get them to the emergency vet. 


Muzzle your pet before beginning. To help stop the bleeding, place a clean gauze pad over the injury, applying pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins. A tourniquet of gauze with an elastic band to secure it will be required for severe leg bleeding. Immediately bring your pet to the veterinary clinic. 


Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Try to remove objects that may hurt your pet. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet. 


Muzzle your pet. Lay your pet on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If possible, secure your animal to the stretcher, avoiding putting pressure on the injured area.


Your pet may bite out of panic, so it's important to be cautious. Check your pet's mouth for objects and try to remove it if possible. Be careful to not accidentally push the object further into your animal's throat. If this is too difficult, don't waste precious time trying. Immediately transport your pet to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic for care.

Being Ready

What You Should Know in Advance

You never know when an emergency could happen, but being prepared for a pet emergency can help you give your cat or dog the quality care they need in a timely manner. Our Stockton vets recommend having the following items at hand in case of an emergency:

  • The phone number for your vet's office
  • Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
  • The phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
  • The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
  • How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others
  • Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
  • Knowledge of basic pet CPR

Financial Responsibilities

Because of the level of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatments necessary, cat and dog emergency care can be expensive. It's the responsibility of the pet parents to make sure they can financially afford the urgent care their pet needs.

You have to prepare yourself for any unforeseeable circumstances by setting money aside that is designated for emergencies only, or by signing up for a pet insurance plan. Delaying veterinary care in order to save money on emergency fees puts your pet's health and life at risk. 

If your pet requires emergency care, contact our Stockton vets or take them to your closest emergency animal hospital clinic as soon as you can.

We're Always Welcoming New Patients

We can't wait to welcome you and your pet to the Rosemarie Pet Hospital family.

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