Is this an Emergency?

As a hospital that helps keep pets healthy with preventive care and also offers urgent and emergency care, a big part of our job is helping pet owners understand whether their pet’s symptoms are an emergency. We asked Dr. Beedle to give us a rundown of the most commonly seen emergencies to help you know when your pet needs to be seen immediately. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a summary of Frontier’s most frequently seen emergencies, so if you have any concerns about your pet always give us a call! If you’re worried, chances are your pet should be seen by a veterinarian, and we’ll help you figure out if it needs to be now or if we can schedule a regular appointment.

Blocked male cats: This is probably our most common emergency at FVH. The symptoms include a male cat that is straining to urinate, unable to urinate, crying when in the litter box, or looks like he’s “constipated” from your perspective. These cats are unable to urinate, and this issue can lead to death if not treated as soon as possible.

Actively seizing: If your dog or cat is actively seizing and the seizure isn’t stopping (most common seizures should stop within 1 minute) then they need to be seen as an emergency.

– If your pet had a single seizure that has stopped and is otherwise back to their regular selves, then it’s OK to wait for a same day appointment, but your pet still needs to be seen for an exam.

Hit by car or other traumatic injury/impact: There can be many injuries that are not visible externally. These pets should be seen as an emergency.

Dog fight wounds: These can be tricky because like hit by car/trauma situations, there can be injuries that are not visible to you. These pets need to be seen as an emergency even if the injuries appear minor.

Trouble breathing: If there is increased effort when breathing (having to work hard to breathe in), open mouth breathing in cats, then this is an emergency.

– This is NOT coughing. Coughing can be seen as an appointment.

Allergic Reaction: If a pet is experiencing a swollen face, hives, has collapsed, or there is persistent vomiting/diarrhea then this should be seen as an emergency.

Collapse: Any time a pet collapses and is unable to walk, they need to be seen ASAP. A variety of things can cause a pet to collapse, and all of the causes are serious.

– This is NOT lameness. If your pet is mobile but favoring a particular limb, they should still be seen that day, but it is not an emergency.

GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus aka Bloat): Any large breed dog that is having persistent wretching, acting like it is trying to vomit but nothing is coming out should be seen ASAP. GDV requires immediate surgery.

Toxicities: If your pet ate something toxic (chemicals, rat bait, etc.), an overdose of a pet medication, ate a toxic plant or food (onions and garlic, lilies in cats, grapes in dogs) or ingested any type of human medication, marijuana or other drugs, this is an emergency. Treatment includes inducing vomiting as soon as possible to limit the absorption of the toxin, and start other supportive care immediately to prevent more serious side effects of the toxin. There are many foods and medications that are perfectly safe for humans but fatally toxic to cats and dogs, so when in doubt, give us a call!

What's Next

  • 1

    Call us or schedule an appointment online.

  • 2

    Meet with a doctor for an initial exam.

  • 3

    Put a plan together for your pet.