- Abdominal Pain
Whining, listless, restless, lethargic, arching back, unable to get comfortable,
vomiting, diarrhea, bloated or distended abdomen.
DO NOT give your pet food or water - this may induce vomiting and make the condition
worse. Abdominal pain can be very serious and is often life threatening if not addressed.
Limit the activity of your pet --carry them if possible. You can put small pets
in a box or carrier. Call a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY and seek professional help
as soon as possible.
- Allergic Reactions
Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, scratching, chewing at feet, swollen face, puffiness
around eyes, trouble breathing.
Call a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Allergic reactions should be treated as soon as
possible to prevent shock. Even if the reaction improves, an exam should still be
performed on your pet by a veterinarian. It may be appropriate to give the animal
over-the-counter antihistamine, diphenhydramine, IF you have spoken to your veterinarian
in advance and have received approval.
- Bite Wounds
As always, approach the animal slowly. Injured animals often communicate their pain
through aggressive or defensive actions, especially after a bite injury. MUZZLE
the animal or have someone restrain the head. Examine the entire area for bleeding,
lacerations or pain. Multiple bite wounds can be hard to find under thick coats.
If you cannot quickly reach a veterinarian, flush each wound with saline (if not
available, clean water will do). Wrap large wounds as best as possible. Small wounds
can be left uncovered. DO NOT use tourniquets to stop bleeding - use firm pressure
if needed. Seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY - bite wounds often need to be flushed
extensively or sutured to help prevent infection. Wounds that are managed within
6 hours of the injury require less intensive care.
First aid is needed for chemical, electrical or thermal (heat) burns. IMMEDIATELY
flush the area with cool water for 5 minutes. After flushing, apply a cold compress
to the area for 10 to 15 minutes. NEVER apply an ice pack directly to the skin.
Wrap the pack in a thin towel or available material. Call a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY
and seek professional help and examination. Burns need to be addressed IMMEDIATELY
and can be life threatening when severe.
- Cardiac Emergencies
Collapse, weakness, bluish or gray gum color, rapid or slow heart rate.
Call and seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY. Such emergencies should not be taken
lightly as they are often life threatening. Limit your pet's activities and carry
them if possible.
- Cold Emergencies
Shivering (excessive, relentless), lethargy, weakness, inability to use limbs.
Move your pet from the wind and cold into a warm place. Wrap your pet in warm (woolen)
and dry blankets or clothing. DO NOT rub your pet with the blankets. This can damage
cold tissue and make frostbite worse. Try to raise your pet's body temperature slowly
over the course of 20 minutes. Hot water bottles (wrapped in towels to avoid direct
contact with skin) can be used under the blankets to help increase your pet's temperature.
To take your pet's temperature, use only an approved rectal thermometer. Normal
temperature should be 100 to 102.5 degrees. If an area is discolored, (bluish or
pale) the body part or skin may have been frozen and is exhibiting signs of frostbite.
Take the animal out of the cold and transport to the nearest veterinary hospital.
DO NOT use electric heat in any form.
A few episodes of diarrhea can be due to stress or change in the animal's diet.
Make sure that your pet continues to drink water but withhold food for 12 to 24
hours. If the diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, or if there is blood in
the diarrhea, seek veterinary care promptly. If your pet is showing other signs
of illness (vomiting, lethargy, weakness) do not wait 12 to 24 hours. Seek veterinary
care as soon as possible. Diarrhea can often be a symptom of more serious illness
- Ear Emergencies
Scratching at ears, shaking head, head tilting, swollen/puffy ear flaps, strange
odor or discharge from ear(s).
MUZZLE your pet or have someone hold the mouth closed while you examine the ears.
Look for signs of redness, swelling of the ear flap, discharge or unusual odor.
Look for any obvious foreign body (plant material, etc.) and pull it out if possible.
If the signs of ear problems persist, call a veterinarian and have your pet seen
as soon as possible. If the ear needs flushing, it is advisable to have your veterinarian
do this. Regardless, it should only be done with sterile saline solution. Try to
prevent your pet from scratching at the ears or shaking the head excessively as
this can make the problem worse. Ask your family veterinarian for an ear 'drying'
agent if your pet loves playing in water and/or frequently experiences ear infections.
Never use objects such as Q-tips as you may inadvertently damage the ear drum.
- Eye Emergencies
Squinting, discharge, tearing, redness, swelling, bleeding, different pupil size.
If there is an obvious laceration or foreign object in or around the eye, seek veterinary
care IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT try to bandage the laceration or remove the object. If
the source of the irritation is known to be chemical or fine debris/dirt, flush
the eye(s) with sterile saline (or clean water) IMMEDIATELY for 5 to 10 minutes
and then seek veterinary care. Eye injuries and infections can get worse very quickly.
IMMEDIATE diagnosis and treatment is critical to preserve your pet's eyesight.
Pain, not using a limb, limb looks bent or swollen.
MUZZLE the animal or have someone restrain the head. Check the limb for open wounds
or bleeding. If there is excessive bleeding, wrap the area with a towel or other
available material while trying not to move the limb. DO NOT pull on the limb in
an attempt to align the fracture. This could result in further injury and increased
bleeding. Stabilize the limb as best as possible (carry your pet if possible) and
seek professional help IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT give any pain medications to your pet
(some are toxic to animals) unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian. Avoid
wrapping the leg, as it is easy to impede blood circulation.
- Heat Emergencies & Dehydration
Panting (excessive), lethargic, unable to stand, uncoordinated movements, vomiting
Move your pet to a cool area as soon as possible, and seek shade or the indoors.
Keep them calm and still. DO NOT try to get them to stop panting, since this is
how your pet expels heat. If water is nearby, encourage your pet to stand or lay
down in cool water. Put small amounts of water on the tongue, or offer them ice
cubes to eat. If not vomiting, your pet should respond rapidly (10 to 15 minutes).
If your pet does not seem to respond to the cooling therapy, if they lose consciousness
or have great difficulty breathing, or the skin on the back of their neck does not
spring back to normal position IMMEDIATELY when pulled, seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY.
Light colored animals can get sunburned just like people. Encourage them to stay
in the shade and ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on sun blocks for your
- Insect, Snake Bites & Tick Removal
Like people, animals vary in their reactions to venom. The response can range from
mild irritation to allergic shock. Check the area for any remaining stinger or insect.
Remove them and cleanse the area with soap and water. If you see your pet get bitten
by a snake, try to remember what the snake looks like (size, color, location). Do
not attempt to catch the snake. Cool wet towels or gauze can be used (for 20 to
30 minutes) to soothe the area. Watch your pet for signs of allergic reaction (see
allergy section and follow the instructions if needed). Be particularly mindful
of difficulty breathing. Snake bite injuries should be treated by a veterinarian
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. When returning from a park or a hike, check thoroughly for
ticks by running your fingers through your pet's entire coat, and inspecting the
paws, pads, between toes and inside floppy ears. If you find a tick, place a small
amount of tick spray (alcohol, mineral oil or petroleum jelly can be used) on a
cotton ball and hold it over the tick. Typically the tick will back out in 30-60
seconds allowing you to grab it with tweezers and dispose of it. Apply alcohol or
an antibiotic ointment to the site of the bite. Do not remove ticks with your bare hands.
As always, approach the animal slowly. Injured animals are often aggressive or defensive.
MUZZLE the animal or have someone restrain the head. Examine the entire animal for
bleeding, lacerations or pain. Multiple lacerations can be hard to find under thick
fur. Flush each laceration with saline (if unavailable, clean water will do). Wrap
large lacerations as best as possible. Small wounds can be left uncovered. DO NOT
use tourniquets to stop bleeding. Use firm pressure if needed. Seek veterinary care
IMMEDIATELY. Lacerations often need to be flushed extensively or sutured to help
- Neurologic Emergencies
Inability to use limb(s), unable to stand, circling, seizures, head tilt, abnormal
Make sure the pet is not near any stairs or steps. Seek veterinary care as soon
as possible. Neurologic disease is often difficult to treat and can be very serious.
If your pet is unable to walk, carry them to the car. If they are too big to carry,
use a towel (under the abdomen, in front of the rear legs) to support the hind end
or use a heavy blanket as a stretcher to carry them to the car. Professional diagnosis
and treatment is recommended as soon as possible.
Disorientation, vomiting, seizures, weakness, retching, salivating (excessive).
CALL A VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. If the source of the poisoning is known, have the
container with you when you call. You will need information on the packaging to
determine the appropriate treatment. If the source is unknown, seek emergency assistance
IMMEDIATELY. Anti-toxin treatment should be started as soon as possible to minimize
the absorption of the poison. If professional medical help is unavailable, VETERINARY
POISON CONTROL can be reached at 888-232-8870. Please make a note of the case number
provided by poison control. Your veterinarian will need it for reference. If possible,
bring the toxic agent with you to the doctor.
- Respiratory Emergencies
Collapse, weakness, bluish or gray gum color, rapid or shallow breathing.
Call and seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY. Such emergencies should not be taken
lightly as they are often life threatening. Get them to a veterinary hospital AS
SOON AS POSSIBLE. Limit your pet's activity --carry them if possible. If your pet
stops breathing or loses consciousness.
Shaking (uncontrollably), tremors, strange facial movements, unable to stand, paddling
(swimming action) with paws, loss of bowel or urinary control.
DO NOT try to restrain your pet during an episode. Move objects away that may cause
injury during the seizure and, if possible, place the animal on a soft surface such
as carpeting. Make sure the animal is not near any stairs or steps. CALL a veterinarian
IMMEDIATELY. Try to get your pet to the veterinary hospital as soon as possible.
- Urinary Emergencies
Frequent urination or straining, blood in urine, difficulty urinating, vomiting.
Animals can develop urinary blockage and infections just like people. Once you have
detected the signs of a problem, CALL your veterinarian and take your pet in as
soon as possible. It is probable that the problem has been going on longer than
you realize. DO NOT wait and observe the pet to see how they do.
Look for signs of foreign material or strange food in the vomit. When you can call
the veterinarian, let them know of any recent history of your pet eating foreign
objects or new foods (trash). Rest the stomach for 12-24 hours by offering no food
or water. Then try small amounts of water every 2 hours for 12 hours and then add
in small amounts of bland food every 2 hours for 12 more hours. If there is no further
vomiting, you can return your pet to a normal diet. If the vomiting persists, or
if your pet shows other signs of illness, seek veterinary care promptly. If your
pet has unproductive vomiting, see your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.