Common Puppy and Kitten Emergencies New Pet Parents Should Know About

Dr. Tyler Parkinson

Apr 15, 2021

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If you have a new puppy or kitten in your household, or if you’re getting ready to adopt a new furry friend, it’s a good idea to take some time and brush up on the most common emergencies faced by young animals.

Although you never want to think about your pet suffering from an emergency situation, there are always risks associated with any animal. Puppies and kittens are especially prone to certain emergencies.

Some common emergencies that can occur with puppies and kittens include, but aren’t limited to:

Sudden Illness

Any sudden illness is an emergency for puppies and kittens. Since these animals are still too young to have a strong immune system or antibodies against certain illnesses, they may become very sick very quickly.

If you notice any signs of illness in a young animal, take your pet to the emergency vet immediately.

There are some illnesses that are extremely common in puppies and kittens. Puppies especially are susceptible to parvo, which is unfortunately usually fatal. This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to have your pets vaccinated as early as possible, so they don’t run the risk of contracting fatal diseases when they’re young.


Diarrhea may not be a problem if it only happens once. However, if it keeps up—even just for a day or two—diarrhea can be very dangerous for young animals. Older pets may be able to recover from a bout of diarrhea with a little rest and time, but puppies and kittens should be seen by a vet right away if they have diarrhea more than one time.

Diarrhea can quickly dehydrate a young animal, which can be deadly at such a young age and small size. Your vet may need to give your pet IV fluids if this happens.


Any injury should be treated as an emergency when dealing with a puppy or a kitten. Some common injuries for young animals involve falling off of furniture or down the stairs, being attacked by another animal, or getting caught in the bars of a kennel or crate.

Although puppies and kittens can usually recover easily from these kinds of injuries, they will likely require vet treatment to manage the injury and ensure they recover as fast as possible. Additionally, if your pet has been bitten or hurt by another animal, it’s a good idea to check for any signs of illness in your puppy or kitten.

Ingestion of Foreign Objects

Puppies and kittens both have trouble recognizing what is food and what isn’t. Because of this, they may be prone to ingesting foreign objects. They may also play too roughly with their toys and break off pieces that they then swallow.

If your pet swallows part of a toy or a household item, this is an emergency no matter what the age. The same is true of pets who ingest part of a toxic plant in the home or yard. If your puppy or kitten eats anything that isn’t their food, you will need to go to the emergency vet.


A fever is a sign that something is wrong with your pet. Puppies and kittens may run a fever before they show any other symptoms of illnesses, which means a fever is often a good first indication of disease.

If your puppy or kitten has a fever, don’t wait to go to the vet. The longer you wait, the sicker your pet is likely to become with whatever is causing the problem. Your vet will run tests like bloodwork and possibly X-rays to find out the underlying cause of the fever.

Upper Respiratory Infection

Finally, if your puppy or kitten is showing signs of an upper respiratory infection, this is a common emergency that needs to be tended to right away by a vet.

Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection in puppies or kittens may include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Runny eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing

Upper respiratory infections can be especially dangerous for younger animals because their lungs and respiratory systems have not been fully developed yet. Therefore, it’s important to have your pet treated by the vet as soon as possible to prevent respiratory illness from getting out of hand. Kittens are especially susceptible to long-term problems from respiratory diseases.

Call VEG for Any Emergency with Your Puppy or Kitten

Although most of these emergency situations are life-threatening if ignored, most of them can be easily treated by working with your vet. If you notice signs or symptoms of any of these problems, don’t wait; take your puppy or kitten to the vet or emergency vet right away for both diagnosis and treatment.

The quicker you take your pet the vet, the sooner the vet will be able to start your pet on the right treatment. From there, it will be easier to get your puppy or kitten back to good health and back on track for growing up well, too.

VEG provides emergency veterinary care to every pet that comes through our doors. We have over 20 locations across the country, each with a caring and experienced staff that’s ready to help your pet. Call VEG today and speak with an emergency veterinarian on what the next best steps are for your puppy or kitten.