Pet Emergency Article

What to Do in a Pet Emergency

Veterinary Emergency Group

Nov 30, 2020

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As a pet owner, you never want anything bad to happen to your beloved furry members of the family. Unfortunately, emergencies do sometimes occur. A pet emergency can range from injury to sudden illness to acute allergic reactions and everything in between. Learning how to respond to them can make a huge difference in the life of your pet.

Steps to Take During a Pet Emergency

In the article below, we’ll explain 8 steps to help you remember what to do if an emergency occurs with your pet.

Stay Calm

The most important thing to remember when you’re dealing with a pet emergency is simply to stay calm. If you panic, you’ll cause your pet to become more afraid as well. Additionally, if you’re panicking, you’re less likely to pay attention to crucial details that may help save your pet’s life.

It can be difficult to keep your cool when your pet is severely injured or very sick. Just remember that you need to remain levelheaded in order to help your pet as best as you can.

Assess the Problem

Look closely at your pet to see if you can figure out what’s wrong. If she has a badly broken bone or a severe injury, you will probably be able to see this very clearly. On the other hand, if your pet is very sick but you can’t tell why, you should pay close attention to her symptoms and behavior so you can tell the vet everything important when you arrive.

Don’t spend too much time on this step; simply look over your pet once or twice and see what you can gather from her appearance and actions.

Respond As Much As Possible at Home

There may be something you can do during a pet emergency at home before you ever go to the vet.

If your pet is bleeding a lot, you will need to apply pressure to her injury while you’re still at home. Just be careful, as this may cause your pet to bite.

If you think your pet may be choking, try to stay calm and call your local veterinarian right away. 

Avoid performing the Heimlich maneuver right away, as this may actually cause more harm than good if your pet isn’t truly choking on an object.

Call the Vet or an Emergency Vet

After assessing your pet and responding as well as you can at home, call the vet or emergency vet right away. This should be done within just a few minutes of realizing you’re dealing with a pet emergency. If you are unsure if it’s an emergency or not, call and speak with a doctor to determine how urgent the matter is. Do not wait until it’s too late before you contact the vet.

If it’s after hours, a weekend, or a holiday, you will need to find an emergency vet. Ideally, you should already know of an emergency vet in your area. If you don’t, you can perform a quick internet search to find the one closest to you.

Calm Your Pet As Much As Possible

Your pet is likely to be extremely agitated if she is conscious during a pet emergency.

If your pet is a dog, approach slowly to prevent the risk of biting. If your dog is fearful and at risk of biting—without causing harm to yourself or any more harm to your pet—muzzle her before trying to interact with her otherwise.

If your pet is a cat, drape a thin towel over her head to keep her from biting you. Do not pull the towel too tightly or you may risk causing breathing difficulties; the idea is simply to stop the cat from being able to bite while she’s in pain. The draped towel might also cause her to feel safer.

Ask a Capable Family Member to Help

You are probably going to need help with your pet. In some pet emergencies, you are the only one at home or otherwise available to help, so you’ll have to do it all on your own. However, if you can, have a member of the family help you take care of your pet.

The person you choose should be old enough to respond appropriately to the situation and mature enough not to panic as well. They should also be able to get on the phone with the vet and let them know you’re on the way.

Load Your Pet Into Her Crate or Into Your Vehicle

If your pet is small enough to lift, you can pick her up and place her in a crate or directly into your vehicle. Additionally, make sure you support her back and do not let her head twist or drop if she is injured or unconscious.

If your pet is too large to pick up on your own, you can lay out a blanket, tuck it under her and swaddle her into the car with another one’s help.

Bring any relevant medications your pet is currently taking or if your pet ingested human food (ie chocolate) or human medications, bring in the packaging or medication bottle so the veterinarian can assess the ingredients.

Drive Safely to the Vet

With your pet in the car, the vet alerted, and hopefully someone along to help you, it is now time to drive to the vet.

Take care while driving and focus on the road, even though you will be concerned for your pet on the way. Getting into a vehicle accident will only make matters much worse.

While you drive to the vet, have your helper call ahead and let them know where you are. Your helper may sit in the back with your pet if she is passive, but should sit in the front if your pet is showing signs of aggression during the pet emergency.

VEG Can Help With Your Pet Emergency

The information in this article can help you get through the first few crucial minutes after your pet’s emergency and get her to the vet in a timely manner. From there, your response will vary depending on what happened, the age and health of your pet, your vet’s recommendations, and more. Listen to what the vet has to say and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to in order to take the correct next steps for your pet.

Our emergency vets at VEG are here to help you and your pet with any pet emergency day or night. When you come to VEG, you will always speak and work with highly qualified and compassionate veterinarians who will do what is best to help your pet. For emergency situations with your pet, contact any of our convenient VEG locations and we will always be available to help you.