Is It a Pet Emergency? Knowing How to Recognize and Respond to Your Pet’s Crisis

iStock_000020494295_MediumWhile we hope you and your pet never have to face an emergency, we do believe that it is important to know how to recognize and respond to a pet emergency. Not all pet emergencies are as obvious as others, and knowing how to respond to your pet’s condition isn’t always as straightforward as you might like it to be.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to identifying a pet emergency, the following signs and symptoms should help you identify the severity of your pet’s crisis. However, if your pet’s symptoms aren’t listed below, but in your gut you know something serious is wrong, please don’t hesitate to call us (or one of our emergency referral partners) for a consultation.

Signs and Symptoms of a Pet Emergency

The following conditions should be considered an emergency situation, and you should bring your pet in for care right away:

  • Serious trauma, including car accidents, broken bones, or serious injury caused by a dog fight
  • Severe bleeding, especially if from a major artery
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing (rapid or shallow breathing)
  • Bloody urine or stool
  • The obvious ingestion of a toxin, including pesticides, rodenticides, Xylitol, or liquid nicotine
  • Seizures, collapse, and unconsciousness
  • Other signs of a pet emergency can include:

  • Choking, gagging, or non-stop coughing
  • Painful urination or defecation, or the inability to urinate or pass stool
  • Any injury to your pet’s eyes
  • Refusal to drink water or eat food (especially if it continues over days)
  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting that happens more than twice in a 24-hour period
  • Lethargy or lameness
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Shaking, whining, or other distressed vocalization
  • A swollen abdomen that is hard to the touch
  • Uncharacteristic changes in your pet’s behavior (aggression or hiding)
  • Unexplained swelling in a localized area
  • Extremely high or low body temperature
  • Complications arising from giving birth
  • Time is of the Essence….

    In many pet emergencies, time is of the essence if treatment is to be successful. Don’t spend needless time worrying about what to do. If you’re unsure about your pet’s symptoms, call for a consultation. But if it’s obvious that your pet needs immediate attention, come in for care as soon as possible.

    If you do need to bring your pet in for emergency care, we suggest calling ahead to let us, or one of our emergency partners, know you’re coming. During this call we can also advise you on the best way to transport your pet for the condition he or she is in, which an important consideration if your pet has a broken bone, is vomiting, or having seizures.


    Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital doesn’t charge more for an emergency visit so there is no reason to hesitate in getting your pet the care he or she needs.