Numerous health issues and injuries can affect your pet, ranging from trivial issues to serious, life-threatening conditions. Our team at Billings Animal Family Hospital wants to help you determine which situations require emergency veterinary attention.

Situation #1: Your pet is experiencing excessive blood loss

If your pet sustains an injury that results in excessive bleeding, they need immediate veterinary care. Excessive bleeding can be described as spurting blood, or bleeding that doesn’t stop after five minutes. If this occurs, use bandage material or a clean towel to apply firm pressure to the area. For a limb injury, you can use a belt to fashion a tourniquet by tightening the belt on the limb between the wound and your pet’s body. Keep pressure on the wound en route to Billings Animal Family Hospital.

Situation #2: Your pet faints or collapses

Neurological and heart conditions, which are the most common reasons pets faint, are serious issues that a veterinary professional should assess as soon as possible. Numerous conditions can cause pets to collapse without losing consciousness, and they all require immediate veterinary attention. These include:

  • Heatstroke — Hyperthermia can cause extreme inflammation throughout the body, and affect several body systems, which can lead to a pet collapsing.
  • Dehydration — Like humans, pets need adequate hydration to carry oxygen and nutrients to their body tissues and organs. Pets with moderate to severe dehydration can collapse.
  • Shock — A pet who is in shock is not receiving adequate oxygen circulation to their tissues and organs, which can result in collapse.

Situation #3: Your pet is having difficulty breathing

If your pet is experiencing respiratory distress, they need emergency veterinary care. Conditions that can cause difficulty breathing include pneumonia, asthma, allergic reactions, and heart conditions. Signs include noisy breathing, flared nostrils, exaggerated abdominal movement on inhalation and exhalation, and pale or blue-tinged mucous membranes. Any added stress can further compromise your pet’s ability to breathe, so stay as calm as possible when transporting them to the veterinary hospital.

Situation #4: Your pet sustains a trauma

If your pet sustains a trauma, such as being hit by a car, or falling from a significant height, or a small pet being stepped on by an adult, they should be evaluated by a veterinary professional. Injuries may not be evident, but your pet could have internal damage that could be life-threatening, if not addressed.

Situation #5: Your pet ingested poison

If you witness or suspect your pet ingested a poisonous substance, you should immediately call Billings Animal Family Hospital or Animal Poison Control. Numerous household items and common foods are toxic to pets. These include:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions and garlic
  • Xylitol
  • Ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Anti-freeze
  • Rat poisoning
  • Household cleaners and deodorizers

When you call our veterinary professionals or Animal Poison Control, be prepared to relay your pet’s breed, age, and weight, and the amount of toxic substance they ingested. If possible, have the substance’s label for reference.

Situation #6: Your pet is straining to urinate

Urinary tract blockage, which is commonly seen in male cats, is considered a veterinary emergency. Signs include vocalizing when attempting to urinate, frequent, unsuccessful visits to the litter box, lethargy, and decreased appetite. If not addressed promptly, this condition can cause bladder rupture or kidney failure.

Situation #7: Your pet has diarrhea or is vomiting excessively

While a singular vomiting or diarrhea episode can be caused by a benign dietary indiscretion, other issues that cause these signs can be concerning. Your pet needs emergency veterinary attention if:

  • They have blood in their vomit or diarrhea — This indicates bleeding along their gastrointestinal tract.
  • They have other signs — If your pet is exhibiting other signs in addition to vomiting and diarrhea, such as pain, distended abdomen, or fever, they need prompt veterinary attention.
  • Their vomiting attempts are unsuccessful — This could indicate a gastrointestinal blockage, or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV).
  • They have multiple vomiting or diarrhea episodes — If their signs continue, they should be evaluated as soon as possible.

Situation #8: Your pet has an eye injury

Corneal injuries can progress quickly, and may result in vision impairment, or eye loss. If your pet is squinting, tearing, or has a swollen eye, they need immediate veterinary attention.

Situation #9: Your pet suddenly cannot bear weight on a limb

Pets suffering limb injuries, including bone fractures, and tendon and ligament abnormalities, may suddenly be unable to bear weight on the limb. These injuries are extremely painful, and should be addressed as soon as possible, to provide stabilization and pain medication.

Situation #10: Your pet experiences a seizure

Seizures are scary to observe, but if your pet seizes, stay calm, and keep them protected from hard furniture edges during the episode. If possible, time the seizure so you can relay this information to our veterinary professionals. We will need to perform further diagnostics to determine the seizure’s cause.

Hopefully, your pet will never be affected by a veterinary emergency, but knowing when your pet needs immediate treatment is critical. Knowing where to find help when deciding if your pet’s condition is emergent is also important. In addition to our regular hours, we offer 24/7 Petriage services, which allows you to talk to a veterinary professional any time, day or night. Our team will gather information about your pet’s condition, and help you determine whether immediate care is necessary, or it can wait until a regular appointment.

If your pet is experiencing a veterinary emergency, contact our team immediately, so we can get them the care they need.