Pet Emergencies Happen
Veterinarians treat thousands of sick and injured pets in emergency clinics every year. Most pet owners don’t expect that it will be their dog or cat that gets sick or injured, but in reality an estimated 90 percent of all pets will face a serious emergency situation at least once in their lifetime. When you are faced with an urgent health issue with your pet, having pet insurance can provide some peace of mind in an otherwise distressing situation.
What To Do
If you are like most pet owners, and your pet shows signs of distress or seems to be ill or injured, you may not know whether it is serious enough to be an emergency or whether it is a less urgent condition.
- In situations of concern, it is important to immediately call your veterinarian who can help you determine if an emergency visit is necessary or sensible.
While some symptoms may be mild and can wait for a scheduled examination, some symptoms are serious enough to warrant immediate treatment.
Signs that your pet may require immediate veterinary care include:
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe pain
- Non-responsive and unconscious
- Prolonged vomiting, especially with blood
- Abnormal bowel movements, bloody stools
- Ingestion of a poisonous substance
- Trauma from a car accident or fall
In case of an emergency, you should have your veterinarians office phone number and emergency contact number posted in a convenient location near the phone. You should also list the phone number and location of the nearest veterinary emergency clinic.
Five Common Pet Emergencies
Bloat (Gastric Torsion) – Dogs
Description: A life-threatening condition caused by the rotation of the stomach into an abnormal position (torsion). Usually affects large, deep-chested dogs who are fed one meal a day and then engage in exercise after eating. Prevention: Minimize risk by dividing food into more than one meal a day, do not allow dog to over eat or drink, and avoid exercise after eating. Signs and Symptoms: Noticeable enlargement of the stomach area, restlessness, nonproductive attempts to vomit. Treatment: This is a true emergency condition. Call your vet to alert them of the situation and then get to the veterinarian immediately. There is no home cure and your pet will die without treatment. Medical therapy and/or surgery is required. Cost: $500 to $1000 or more, depending on complications.
Foreign Item Ingestion – Dogs and Cats
Description: Illness caused by the ingestion of a non-food item that gets stuck in the stomach or small intestine. Prevention: Provide safe toys for your dog or cat and keep unsafe objects away from your pet that they may be tempted to eat. Keep trash covered, laundry stored away, and kids toys picked up. Common and unusual items eaten by dogs include socks, coins, tinsel, golf balls, batteries, underwear, nylons, ribbon, string, children’s toys. Cats like to eat string, yarn, shoelaces, tinsel and dental floss. Signs and Symptoms: Loss of appetite, prolonged vomiting, abdominal pain, drooling, fever, lethargy, abnormal bowel movements. Treatment: If you see your pet eat a non-food item or when you notice symptoms, call your vet for advice – to induce vomiting or bring in for an examination. If you notice a string coming out either end, do not try to pull out. It will usually require surgery to remove it from the intestinal tract. Cost: $2000 to $3000 or more, depending on circumstances.
Fracture (Broken Bone) – Dogs and Cats
Description: Most broken bones result from a trauma, such as a car accident, falls, or kicks from horses or other livestock. Prevention: Many broken bones are due to car accidents, which can be prevented by keeping pets secured at home so they do not run free and using a leash, in the case of dogs, when away from home. Small dogs often break bones when jumping out of someone’s arms. Signs and Symptoms: Fractures are painful. Be careful, as pets may bite out of pain or fear. Treatment: Try and keep your pet calm, restrict activity, and use a stretcher or crate to transport your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Surgery will be necessary to set the bone and apply a splint. Cost: Varies, can be anywhere from $200 to $5000.
- Tasty, Yet Deadly to Pets
- Grapes & Raisins
- Bread Dough
- Chewing Gum
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pain Relievers
Poisoning (Toxicity) – Dogs and Cats
Description: Ingestion of a substance that causes harm to your pet. Some of the items that are poisonous to pets are anti-freeze (they like the sweet taste), snail bait, household chemicals, human medications (such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen), insecticide (including store bought pet medications), Gorilla Glue, nicotine, and certain plants. Also, dog products can be toxic to cats. Prevention: Keep all known poisonous substances out of reach and only use medications that your veterinarian approves as safe for your pet. Keep your pet from running freely into neighbors yards where poisonous substances may lurk. Signs and Symptoms: Varies by substance, but includes vomiting, drooling, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, swelling of face and legs, and seizures. Treatment: Get your pet to the veterinarian quickly for treatment; often requires induced vomiting. Cost: Hundreds of dollars.
Lacerations – Dogs and Cats
Description: Torn, cut or punctured skin; an open wound on your pet. Cause: Often caused by car accidents, animal fights, amateur grooming attempts, and run-ins with a sharp object. Prevention: Not always preventable, but can minimize risk by keeping surroundings free of harmful items (such as barbed wire, metal lawn edging, metal plant supports), keep pets from running unrestricted to avoid getting hit by car or getting into fights with other animals. Signs and Symptoms: Bleeding from an open wound. Treatment: Varies by severity, may require stitches, bandaging, antibiotics, or surgery if a deep wound. Cost: Average of $350, depends on severity.