Emergency Vet Care: How Do You Know When It’s Needed?
Young woman holding a sick white and brown dog while researching emergency vet information on her computer.

In a true pet medical emergency, moments count. However, for pet owners, it can be tough to know when a pet health issue requires an emergency vet visit. Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies emergency veterinarians know that providing always-open, 24/7 vet care can save a pet’s life. Seek emergency vet care if your pet’s condition involves:

  • Poison
  • Obvious trauma
  • Puncture wounds
  • Not breathing
  • Injury with a steady flow of blood

We are here at our Castle Rock 24/7 veterinary hospital to provide compassionate emergency and specialty care for your pets, 365 days a year. Call us at 303.660.1027 or just come right to the hospital with your pet emergency. In addition, if in doubt, we can help you determine the best course of action.

It can help to pre-plan your driving route to our veterinary hospital in case of emergency. We also suggest that you save our address in your phone under something easy to find, like a contact entry under your pet’s name. Our emergency vet hospital is located at 774 Maleta Lane, Castle Rock, CO, 80108, one block north of Founders Parkway, just off I-25.

The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline number is 1.888.426.4435 — fees may apply. If you suspect your pet has consumed something poisonous — either a chemical substance or a plant or food that is toxic to pets — call the hotline, contact us, or bring your pet in immediately. (See our top 7 things to keep away from pets blog post for more information.)

Is it Time for an Emergency Vet Visit?

Some types of life-threatening situations requiring emergency vet care can be more difficult to recognize. Our Castle Rock emergency veterinary facility is staffed around the clock to help in these cases, from dog emergencies to very sick cats. A way to think about seeking emergency vet care is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you are experiencing what you think is a pet emergency, don’t wait. Call or come right to our 24/7 vet hospital, and we can help.

We know how important your pet is to you because we feel the same way about our pets! Your pet is your best friend or a much-loved member of your family. Our hope is to help you learn to spot the pet health crisis situations needing emergency vet care right away.

Signs that Your Pet Needs Emergency Veterinary Care

If you know your pet’s regular schedule and behavior, you can better identify changes that may indicate a pet emergency. Some signs that your pet may have a life-threatening illness (like heat stroke or poisoning) or injury (like from an accident) include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours, is vomiting blood, or has bloody diarrhea.
  • Eye injury (no matter how mild)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fainting or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty standing or disorientation
  • Apparent paralysis
  • Pale or blue gums or tongue
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Swollen face or hives
  • Change in body temperature
  • Swollen belly that is hard to the touch, especially if combined with gagging/trying to vomit
  • Whining, shaking, or refusing to socialize

Specific Times Your Pet Needs Emergency Vet Care

There are several specific indications for emergency vet care:

  • Abnormal breathing patterns: If your pet seems to be gasping for air with fast and shallow breaths, or seems to be using abdominal muscles to breathe, please bring your pet in. Rapid breathing of more than 40 breaths per minute when sleeping or resting is also a concern.  
  • Painful urination: When cats have trouble urinating, they may go to the litter box more frequently or vocalize pain while going. Further, if your cat or dog seems to be straining to urinate or defecate, this could indicate a potential health emergency. Please bring your pet in for evaluation if you notice these behaviors.

Getting Your Pet to the Emergency Vet

If your dog or cat is experiencing a painful event that calls for emergency vet care, they may be in great pain and may even act aggressively toward you. Knowing this, while you prepare to handle or transport your pet to our 24-hour pet hospital, please protect yourself. Moreover, to safely get pets to an animal emergency center:

  • For cats needing medical attention, gently place a towel over the head to prevent biting. Then, slowly lift your cat to transfer it to a carrier and then into your vehicle.
  • For a dog in distress, try to remain calm and approach your dog slowly. Say the pet’s name as you approach. If there is no aggressive behavior, gently place the dog in a carrier or attach a leash before moving to your car. However, call us or another professional for assistance if there are signs of aggressive behavior, such as if the hairs on their back are raised, if teeth are bared, or if your dog is growling.

Learn Pet First Aid Basics

A few pet first aid skills and a little knowledge can also help if the worst happens and you have an injured dog or sick cat needing immediate care. A good place to start may be Cat and Dog First Aid Online Training, a $25 online session from the Red Cross. This 35-minute class teaches you how to check your pet’s vital signs and provide first aid until you can reach a veterinary professional.

This is not a substitute for emergency veterinary care but could make the difference between life and death as you head to the emergency vet clinic.

What is Your Pet Health Emergency Plan?

By thinking ahead and mentally preparing for a pet emergency, you’ll be able to respond more quickly and effectively. This means knowing where first aid supplies are in the case of a traumatic event (such as a cut paw). Additionally, it means having the phone number of your local veterinarian, as well as a 24-hour emergency pet hospital, easily accessible.

Though you might know the way to your family veterinarian by memory, it is a good idea to double-check how to get to our 24/7 vet hospital or your nearest 24-hour pet hospital before there is an emergency.

Final Thoughts on Getting Emergency Vet Care

Though some emergency pet care situations will be more evident than others, paying close attention to your pet will help you identify more subtle but still life-threatening situations, such as poisoning, accidents, or heat stroke.

A way to think about seeking emergency vet care is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you are experiencing what you think is a pet emergency, don’t wait. Call or come right to our 24/7 vet hospital, and we can help.

By identifying anything strange with your friend, from breathing patterns to painful urination, you’ll be able to take the best care of your pet, keeping them healthy, and giving you both the chance to live a longer life together.

MORE ARTICLES AND INFORMATION FOR HEALTHY PETS

First Aid Tips When Hiking with Dogs

Are Easter Lilies Poisonous to Cats?

Cold Weather Pet Emergencies

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