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How to Handle a Pet Emergency

How to Handle a Pet Emergency

What does a pet emergency look like, what steps should you take in such a situation, and who should you call? Today, our Tennessee vets share examples of pet emergencies and which actions to take.

What is a Pet Emergency?

Every pet owner dreads the day they wake up to their four-legged friend appearing seriously ill, getting injured or experiencing some other emergency that requires them to be rushed to a vet for an emergency appointment and treatment. 

However, you can prepare ahead of time. Today, we'll discuss some measures you can take to identify the signs of an emergency, prevent an emergency from occurring in the first place and take action to help keep your pet and yourself safe during a stressful time.

All of these qualify as emergencies and will necessitate a visit to a Tennessee pet emergency clinic for immediate care: 

  • Choking, difficulty breathing, or continuous coughing or gagging 
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea (2 or more episodes in 24 hours)
  • Eye injuries
  • Abnormal behavior, signs of extreme pain or anxiety
  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn't stop 
  • Refusal to eat or drink for 24 hours or more
  • Bleeding from mouth, nose, rectum or blood in the urine 
  • Fractured bones or severe lameness
  • Staggering and/or seizures 
  • Inability to pass feces or urinate, or pain associated with passing feces or urinating 
  • Unconsciousness 

How to Prepare for a Pet Emergency

By their nature, veterinary emergencies can happen at the most inconvenient of times, in seconds. That's why we recommend always being prepared by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Keep your vet's phone number and the phone number of a nearby emergency animal hospital in your cell phone and on your refrigerator. 
  • Schedule regular vet checkups for your pet. 
  • Create a pet emergency kit with medical and vaccination records, leashes, blankets, microchip number, a list of your pet's current medications, etc. 
  • Prevent your pet from coming into contact with toxic substances and foods such as grapes, raisins, chocolate, household plants and antifreeze. 
  • Closely supervise your pet and keep them on-leash during walks to prevent fights with other animals or road accidents. 
  • Keep a pet-specific first aid kit with cotton swabs, tweezers, gause pads and bandages, an ice pack, digital thermometer, towels and other supplies. 

Who to Call in a Pet Emergency

It's critical to know who you should call if your pet is experiencing an emergency. Keep these phone numbers on hand and use them if your cat or dog is exhibiting signs of distress:

Your Regular Veterinary Clinic

If your pet experiences an emergency during your veterinarian's regular office hours, they should be first on your list to call. At our Tennessee animal hospital, we provide emergency and urgent veterinary care for cats and dogs during our regular hours. 

A Local Emergency Pet Hospital

If your pet emergency happens when your regular veterinarian is closed (e.g.: late at night or on a weekend), call your closest Tennessee emergency vet clinic (ideally, this pet hospital will be within a 30 to 60-minute drive). 

Pet Poison Control Hotline 

Has your cat or dog ingested a suspected or known toxin? You might consider calling a pet poison helping, such as ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435. 

This hotline has veterinary toxicologists available around the clock. For a small consult fee, they'll be able to tell you whether your pet ate enough of a poisonous substance to require emergency veterinary care.

These experts can also give advice on any at-home treatments or whether you should take your pet to an emergency vet clinic. 

Steps to Take in a Pet Emergency

There are some steps you can take in any pet emergency to increase the likelihood of a better outcome for your pet, and to keep you and your canine or kitty companion safe. These include:

1. Stay Calm

It can be difficult to maintain perspective and keep a cool head when your pet is very sick of severely injured. However, if you remain level-headed, you'll be in a better position to help your pet.

Our pets are very good at reading our emotions. That's why it's important to stay calm when dealing with a pet emergency - your pet will likely become more scared if they see that you are panicking.

You may also pay less attention to important details and d opportunities to save your pet's life if you are panicking. 

2. Assess the Problem

Check your pet closely to see if you can detect any injuries, such as a broken bone or bleeding. Pay attention to behavior or symptoms so you can convey these to the vet. That said, don't spend too much time on this step before you take action. 

3. If Possible, Call Ahead

If your pet is experiencing an emergency during our regular daytime business hours, call us right away. After hours, call one of the veterinary hospitals listed on our Emergency Care page right away.  

4. Follow Any Instructions You're Provided

You may receive instructions from staff at an emergency pet hospital to help you apply first aid or make your pet more comfortable. Follow these instructions carefully. 

5. Bring Your Pet in For Care

Without putting your own safety at risk, safely bring your pet to our Tennessee emergency clinic or to an after-hours emergency vet. 

Are you experiencing a veterinary emergency? Please contact our veterinary clinic in Tennessee, TN right away for advice or to arrange emergency care.

New Patients Welcome

Belle Forest Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Tennessee companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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