Dogs and cats are no longer “like family”—they are family.
However, unlike other family members, when your dog or cat isn’t feeling well or is possibly in a life-threatening situation, they might not be able to tell you exactly what’s wrong. Being able to determine when your furry best friend might need to be rushed to a pet emergency clinic is important.
The vets running emergency animal hospitals know that time is of the essence and that waiting for normal business hours could mean losing one of your dearest friends. This is why most emergency animal hospitals operate 24/7, with trained veterinarians ready to step in and save your dog or cat should a life-threatening situation arise.
Symptoms Signaling an Emergency Situation
When it comes to a possible emergency situation, try not to let the time of day or the day of the week cloud your judgment. If your dog or cat is acting strange, start taking notes of specific symptoms. If things aren’t looking good, and it’s outside of business hours, don’t wait until the morning to seek treatment.
Of course, some situations are crystal clear and there’s no reason to hesitate.
If you’ve witnessed your pet survive a traumatic experience, don’t wait to bring them in. If they’ve been in a fight with another animal or hit by a car, carefully put them in your vehicle and get them to the vet.
Although there are occasions where there will be no visible signs of injury, they should still be brought in, as internal bleeding can be fatal. In situations such as this, there are many possible internal injuries not visible on the outside.
Even if you haven’t witnessed a traumatic event, but your dog or cat is bleeding, you might still need to take them to the vet. Of course, if your pet is suffering from a superficial scratch, don’t panic. Use your best judgement or call your vet to discuss your options.
However, if the blood is rapidly discharging, the wound is deep, or the bleeding doesn’t stop within 5 minutes, do your best to apply pressure to the wound with a bandage and have someone drive you and your furry family member to the vet for immediate attention. Any bleeding from the nose, eyes, mouth, or rectum should also be considered an emergency situation.
Another moment when few hesitate to act is when their pet is unconscious or failing to breathe. However, even if your cat or dog is struggling to breathe, has blue gums or a blue tongue, or any other signs of oxygen deprivation, you’ll want to take him or her to an emergency animal hospital.
Though cats are usually not as interested in consuming objects, if your best friend is a dog, you understand that he or she might not hesitate to gobble up something that can cause real damage.
If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze, rat poison, bleach, or medications, take them to an emergency animal clinic. For dogs, you also want to start monitoring their health if they’ve eaten grapes, raisins, chocolate, or xylitol, which can be found in sugar-free gum.
Additional situations you’ll want to take your friend to an emergency animal clinic for is if they’re showing signs of having a seizure, are in extreme pain, are disoriented, have a swollen abdomen that is hard to the touch, or have sustained an eye injury. Of course, this isn’t a complete list of pet emergencies—you can always call your vet with questions.
Know Some Pet First Aid
Being at the scene when your cat or dog is in need means you’re their first line of defense and their best chance of surviving.
Knowing some basic animal first aid can make all the difference in the world. Because of this, the Red Cross offers a 35-minute online course that will teach you the basics of medical care for your dog or cat. It will teach you how to check your pet’s vital signs, as well as how to care for them in critical emergency situations until they can be evaluated by a professional.
Though taking care of your pet first thing is important, the American Veterinary Medical Association points out that you need to “always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment”.
Preventive Care for Your Pet: Cats & Dogs in Summer
With the summer in full swing, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent rushing your pet to an emergency hospital.
Hydration is important for you and it’s just as important for your pet. Dehydration can lead to loss of muscle function, brain function, and other important bodily processes. If not treated, the situation can become fatal.
With summer heat on the rise, make sure your pet always has access to clean, fresh water. This means packing extra water when you go out and something for them to drink out of. Additional medical issues can arise if your thirsty dog laps up stagnant water out of desperation—don’t put your friend in this situation.
Too much water can actually be a bad thing. Though rare, this can affect sodium levels and can result in death.
Adventurous kitties are especially prone to dehydration, as cats often don’t drink as much water as dogs. The easiest way to get more healthy liquids into their diet is by providing wet canned food in addition to a dry diet. Dry diets have additional health benefits that canned food alone does not.
The need to prevent dogs from overheating is something that many people have been aware of for years. To do this, you need to ensure that you provide them with a place to get out of the sun and don’t leave them in your car—even if you’re “just popping into the store real quick”. Now that more cats are being brought out on romps around town or hikes, it’s important to remember they also shouldn’t be left in vehicles unattended.
Who You Gonna Call?
If your cats and dogs in summer are suffering from a heat stroke or any other medical emergency during normal business hours, it’s a good idea to give your vet a call while you’re on the way, to let them know that you are coming. Pet owners should not sit on heat strokes. They need to be assessed and treated immediately.
Cats & Dogs in Summer: Situations Requiring an Animal Hospital Visit
Your pet is part of the family. In fact, it’s very likely that your pet is your “first child”. Ensuring the safety of your dog or cat is essential. By being trained in pet first aid, recognizing the signs of an emergency situation, and knowing where an emergency animal hospital is near you, you can help save your furry friend’s life.
If you’re out and about with your pet, it’s a good idea to look up an emergency animal hospital near you and saving their number as a contact in your phone. This way, you can make a call as soon as you have service—searching on the internet for a phone number doesn’t always work in remote hiking spots!
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