Whenever a pet gets sick, it is almost always a concern for the owner if it is something serious. Here are some examples of questions that may come to mind:
Do I need to worry about it or will it go away on its own?
Should I take my pet to the veterinarian?
Is this urgent and requires a visit to an emergency veterinarian?
These questions would be easy to answer if our pets could talk to us, but unfortunately they cannot. So how can one determine if their sick pet needs immediate medical condition vs the wait and watch approach? Below is a guide for signs of illness that may require an immediate trip to the emergency veterinarian.
Color of the mucous membranes
The color of the mucous membranes or the gums can be a good indicator of when your pet absolutely needs to go to the emergency veterinarian.
Pale mucous membranes could indicate serious blood loss or severe respiratory issues.
Yellow or green mucous membranes could indicate severe liver disease, or severe anemia due to the body destroying its own red blood cells
Brick or red gums may indicate a severe infection or severe distress and warrants immediate attention.
Mucous membranes with red blotches or spots could indicate a clotting issue which will need to be addressed quickly
Heavy or labored breathing could indicate a severe lung or heart disease. Lung disease that requires immediate medical attention could include lung tumors, severe asthma, or fluid in the lungs.
A pet with a history of heart disease that is showing signs of difficult breathing may be going into congestive heart failure therefore requiring immediate medical treatment.
This is especially important to monitor in male cats. Here are examples where it may be time to see an emergency veterinarian:
- If you are noting little production of urine for extended periods of time
- Straining to urinate with blood
- Vocalizing when urinating.
- Obvious distension of the abdomen with straining to urinate
Bleeding from the nose
Except where there have been obvious trauma to the nose, bleeding from the nose could indicate a serious health condition especially if it is unable to be controlled easily. Nose bleeds could indicate a clotting problem which can be a concern in suspected rat poison ingestion. Bleeding from just one nostril could indicate a bleeding tumor in the sinuses or a serious infection. Nose bleeds could also indicate a serious heart condition
Wounds or lacerations
Even the most innocent looking wounds can become infected leading to very expensive veterinary bills. So treating wounds as early as possible is the key. Here are just some examples of wounds you may want to be evaluated by an emergency veterinarian:
- Wounds that are deep enough to see muscle and tendons.
- Wounds that persistently bleed despite pressure being applied.
- Wounds that are caused by multiple bites
An abdomen that quickly becomes distended could indicate an emergency . One of the most common causes of a distended abdomen is fluid accumulation. The abdomen can accumulate with blood due to hemorrhaging from an organ or a clotting issues which can be caused by rat poisoning. Fluid can also accumulate in abdomen in severe heart failure.
Another cause of a distended abdomen includes bloat. This is where the stomach abnormally fills up with gas or fluid which can result in it twisting on itself. This condition is very dangerous and often leads to death.
Loss of function of limbs
The most common cause of a loss of function of the limbs is a spinal cord issue. Spinal cord issues can arise from a ruptured/bulging discs, a blood clot disrupting blood flow to the cord, trauma, or a tumor of the spine. Time is typically an essence in these cases where how quickly treatment occurs correlates with likelihood of recovery.
Vomiting and diarrhea
While pets can have episodes of vomiting and diarrhea for reasons that may not require immediate attention, sometimes emergency care may be needed as listed below.
If your pet is vomiting multiple times and not able to keep food or water down.
If the vomit has blood in it.
If the vomiting is accompanied by repeat diarrhea especially if the diarrhea has blood in it
Remember this is not an all exclusive list but will help give you an idea if you need to take your beloved pet to an emergency clinic if they are experiencing an illness. If you feel you still need further assistance you can use our online veterinary consultation service for guidance. Here is an infograph below which you can share with other pet owners
Remembers most emergency clinics require upfront payment so be prepaid to have adequate payment.
Look into payment options such as CareCredit which you can apply for online.
Be upfront with the emergency clinic regarding your financial situation.
Having a pet experience an emergency can be quite an emotional experience. Don’t let your emotions allow you to make irrational decisions regarding your pet’s health. If you feel you are too emotional, designate someone to help you make health decisions for you and your pet.