If your four-legged friend shows signs of illness or injury, you naturally want to immediately rush them in for veterinary treatment. However, not all your pet’s issues require emergency care. When you’re in the thick of the problem, though, determining whether your beloved pet is truly in need of veterinary attention can be a challenge. To help decide whether your pet needs to be seen immediately, or if they can wait for an appointment, our Highlands Veterinary Hospital team has compiled a list of the 10 most common issues seen in pets that require urgent care. 

#1: Your pet is having seizures

Whether your pet has been diagnosed with epilepsy, or this is their first seizure, seizures are cause for concern, especially if they do not stop. Status epilepticus is a serious, life-threatening emergency that is characterized by seizures that continue for more than five minutes, or more than one seizure in a five-minute period, and the pet not returning to normal between seizures. If this is your pet’s first seizure, the cause may be a toxin exposure, heatstroke, or other life-threatening situation that requires emergency care. 

#2: Your pet is vomiting and unable to keep water down

Repeated or continuous vomiting, especially if your pet cannot hold down water, is cause for concern. While a bout or two of vomiting is typically “normal” for pets, prolonged or excessive vomiting warrants veterinary care. If your pet has been vomiting for more than six hours, the vomit contains blood, or they vomit numerous times in a short time frame, contact Highlands Veterinary Hospital

#3: Your pet is painful

No one likes to see their pet in discomfort, and neither do we. If your pet seems unusually painful for any reason, they should be seen as soon as possible to help them get relief. Pain can be caused by gastrointestinal upset, intervertebral disc disease, or musculoskeletal injuries. The sooner your pet receives treatment, the sooner the pain will be gone, and they’ll be back to their happy, healthy self.

#4: Your pet is bleeding

Seeing your pet bleeding can be alarming and, as a general rule of thumb, blood pumping out in spurts, soaking through a bandage, or making a pool on the floor is cause for concern. Ears, paws, toenails, the tongue, and the nose can generate a lot of blood, and these areas may need veterinary care to stop the bleeding. Apply pressure to the bleeding area with an absorbent compress for at least five minutes, before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. Avoid checking the wound frequently, as that will disturb the clot, and make stopping the bleeding more difficult. If the bleeding has not stopped after five minutes, or your pet is bleeding from a hard-to-reach area, call Highlands Veterinary Hospital. 

#5: Your pet is squinting

Eye injuries, like corneal ulcers, can quickly go downhill and lead to permanent damage. If you notice your pet squinting or tearing excessively, or if their eye is red or swollen, schedule an appointment immediately.

#6: Your pet’s face is swelling

A swollen muzzle or face is typically associated with an allergic reaction. If your pet was stung by a bee, recently vaccinated, or came in contact with a chemical, they may develop an allergic reaction that manifests as a swollen face. Your four-legged friend may also develop hives, an itchy rash, or difficulty breathing. 

#7: Your pet cannot urinate or defecate

The inability to urinate or defecate can indicate a life-threatening condition. Pets who are unable to urinate can suffer from kidney damage if the cause is not treated promptly, and can die in two to three days without emergency care. The inability to defecate can be caused by a gastrointestinal obstruction, which can also be a fatal situation if your pet does not receive emergency care. The obstruction can cause an intestinal perforation and lead to sepsis.

#8: Your pet appears to unsuccessfully be trying to vomit

A pet who is trying to vomit, but can’t, may have developed gastric dilation, or bloat. In this condition, the stomach fills with gas, and your pet will feel like they have to vomit, but nothing will happen. You’ll see a large, distended abdomen, and in some cases, the stomach will flip on itself, and obstruct circulation. If your pet is trying to vomit, but failing to produce anything, call Highlands Veterinary Hospital immediately. 

#9: Your pet is having difficulty breathing

Breathing difficulties can occur for all sorts of reasons. Brachycephalic (i.e., flat-faced) pets are more prone to breathing problems, but any pet can struggle to breathe. Heart conditions, respiratory disease, heatstroke, and allergic reactions can induce respiratory distress in pets, which can quickly turn fatal if they do not receive supplemental oxygen and emergency treatment. 

#10: Your pet has collapsed

Collapsing, and especially losing consciousness, is particularly concerning. Pets can succumb to poisoning, heatstroke, or cardiac or respiratory issues and collapse, and urgent care is needed to treat the cause.

If you’re unsure whether your pet requires immediate care by our Highlands Veterinary Hospital team, give us a call. We’ll triage your pet’s condition over the phone. We can put your mind at ease or recommend that your pet needs emergency care.