What to Do in a Pet Emergency

March 18, 2019

Accidents and emergencies aren't limited to humans.

In fact, you could argue that since our pets don't always perceive danger in the same way that we do, our furry friends can actually be more at risk of being involved in an accident or suffering an injury. Keeping a cool head in an emergency situation can be difficult at best, but knowing what to do should a crisis arise can significantly increase the likelihood that you will do the right thing that will ultimately improve the likely outcome for your pet.

To help you know what to do in a pet emergency, we have put together the following, valuable information gained during our time as experienced emergency vets in Birmingham, AL.

What Is a Pet Emergency?

When is a situation an emergency situation? This is a question that can be quite difficult to answer, particularly since all animals are different and can react and respond to injuries and illness in a variety of ways.

There is a range of problems that could potentially constitute a pet emergency, including:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Birthing problems
  • Bite wounds
  • Bleeding profusely
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Difficulty emptying her bladder
  • Eye problems or trauma
  • Persistent diarrhea and vomiting
  • Poisoning
  • Trauma such as being hit by a car

The Benefit of a Fully Stocked Pet First Aid Kit

Even if your pet does require emergency professional care, there is a good chance that you will need to administer some sort of first aid before you can even think about getting her to your veterinarian. This could be anything from cooling and rinsing a burn to staunching the flow of blood from a wound. In order to be able to do this effectively, it is extremely beneficial for you to have a fully stocked pet first aid box at home and in the case of dogs, in your vehicle, that contains all of the things that you might need in a pet medical emergency.

The items that are typically recommended for a pet first aid kit are not at all dissimilar to those that you would find in your own emergency box and include:

  • Absorbent dressings and gauze
  • Bandages
  • Bottled water can be used to rinse eyes and wounds and cool down any burns. If your pet gets hurt when out and about, it also provides immediate hydration which can be vitally important in some emergencies.
  • Scissors which can be used for cutting dressings and surgical tape
  • Shallow dish/pop-up dish for water if your pet should become thirsty
  • Surgical tape
  • Thermometer

Don't Delay in Contacting Your Vet for Advice

Since all animals can react differently to illness and injury, it is normally recommended that the first thing that you do if you even suspect that your pet might need emergency professional care is to get in touch with your vet, or, if outside of regular clinic times, your out-of-hours veterinary service. Often your professional will be able to tell you straight away whether your pet needs to be seen immediately, within 24 hours, or can wait for a standard veterinary appointment. This can be very valuable since you don't want to delay taking your furbaby if she needs immediate treatment, but equally, you don't want to pay for an emergency visit and take up an appointment if the issue can be dealt with in the normal veterinary clinic.

Exactly what you can do to help your pet while you are speaking to your vet will vary, and your professional may give you advice over the phone. However, here are some of the most important things to remember:

If your pet has been impaled or has a foreign object stuck in their skin… don't attempt to remove it yourself. Instead, try and keep it securely in place until you get to your vet. If the wound is bleeding, wrap bandages around the object that is sticking out rather than over it.

If your pet has been burnt… get cold water on the burn immediately. Ideally, this should be a constant flow such as from a hosepipe or tap, but cold bottled water is better than nothing.

If your pet is choking… if you can see the blockage and can safely reach it without pushing it further in, remove it. However, watch out for your pet's teeth.

If your pet is bleeding… try and elevate the affected area so that blood flow is directed back towards the heart. Apply pressure to the wound to try and staunch the bleeding.

If your pet is having a fit/seizure… remove any objects around her that she may inadvertently hurt herself on. Time how long the seizure lasts and make a note of exactly what happens so you can relay this information to your vet.

If you suspect your pet has a broken bone… try not to move her too much. If you have anything you can use to splint the limb, do so before taking her to your vet for an x-ray.

If you are looking for an emergency vet in Birmingham, AL who can calmly and effectively handle your veterinary crisis, contact Avondale Animal Hospital at (205) 322-8566 for help. Our experienced and conscientious team can deal with a wide range of different emergency scenarios or provide you with appropriate recommendations.