Just like humans, our pets can have dire health emergencies that require them to visit an emergency vet. If you find yourself in a veterinary emergency situation, the normal instinct can be to simply panic — seeing your pet hurt or severely sick is enough to throw anyone off, especially if you can’t see your normal veterinarian, who knows your pet well. But if you know what to do in a veterinary emergency, you can save time and get your pet the treatment he or she needs immediately. So let’s talk about what you need to know in this type of situation, how to gauge if it’s an emergency or not, and some ways to keep your pet from needing veterinary services in the first place.
What are the Three Most Important Things to Know?
Know Who Your Emergency Vet Is
None of us want to think about our pet needing emergency vet services, but knowing what to do in the worst case scenario will make us more prepared if the worst should happen. You should have an emergency’s vet number and location on hand, so you know exactly where to go if something goes wrong. Your regular veterinary may have the numbers of an emergency vet on their automated voice messaging system or voicemail as well.
Give the Emergency Vet a Heads Up If Your Pet is Seriously Ill or Injured
If your pet is in dire straits, it’s worth calling the vet on the way over, since they’ll see the most urgent cases first. If they already know what the veterinary emergency is, they’ll be ready to go the minute you get in the door, wasting no time.
If Your Pet is Stabilized, Ask if They Can Continue Recovery With Your Regular Vet
If your pet has been treated and seems to be stabilized, seeing if they can come home with you and continue treatment with your regular vet in the morning can save you a good amount of money on your vet bills. Keep in mind that just like with the emergency room for humans, the emergency room for pets also accrues a higher fee.
Is it an Emergency or Am I Overreacting?
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re concerned (but not totally sure), go ahead and call your regular vet to see what they think. However, if you see any of the following symptoms, you should head straight to a pet hospital that provides veterinary emergency services.
Of course if your pet has experienced severe trauma (like being hit by a car or falling from a significant distance), you should go straight to the emergency room. If your pet isn’t breathing or is unconscious or there’s been significant vomiting or diarrhea, it’s a good idea to head to the emergency room. Broken bones, issues breathing, trouble urinating, heatstroke, or disorientation are also all signs that you should get your pet checked out immediately. Furthermore, if your pet is whining or shaking or you suspect that he or she ate or drank something poisonous, don’t hesitate.
How Can I Keep My Pet Safer?
While you can’t anticipate every emergency, there are some ways to keep your pet safer. Make sure that any poisonous substances (even those well contained) are kept in either high places or place that your pet can’t open. Sharp little teeth can do a number on plastic bottles and glass can easily break.
Fences (whether physical or an electric) can keep pets from wandering out in the road, as can good training. Making sure your kitten or puppy is getting vaccines every three to four weeks until the age of 16 weeks can keep them from getting nasty diseases and prevention medicine for heartworm and fleas is always advised.
Even though you hope you’ll never need to visit an emergency vet, it’s always good to have a plan in case you need their services. Knowing where to go (or who to call) ahead of time can save you important minutes in the moment and could make a difference in saving your pet’s life.