When should I take my dog to the emergency vet?
It's a pet owners worst nightmare, it's late at night or on a long weekend and suddenly there is something wrong with your canine companion. The trouble is, you're not sure whether the injury or illness is serious enough to justify a trip to the emergency vet, or whether your dog will be ok until you can get to your regular vet.
To help you decide when to take your dog to the emergency vet here a few symptoms that pet-parents should never ignore:
Hard Swollen Abdomen
There are a number of reasons that your dog's abdomen may become hard and swollen (or bloated), ranging from heart failure or liver dysfunction, to uterine infection, internal bleeding, or 'bloat'. It's never a good idea to ignore signs of a bloated abdomen in dogs. If your dog is showing signs of a bloated abdomen it's time to head to the emergency vet.
If your dog’s stomach becomes bloated, and you see other symptoms such as pacing, repeated unsuccessful attempts at vomiting, or saliva coming back up, your dog may be suffering from Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV), also known as "Stomach Torsion," or “Dog Bloat.” Bloat is a very serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention!
Exposure to Toxins
There are many common human foods, medications, household products and garden plants that are toxic to dogs. If you find your dog eating something they shouldn't, it's best not to wait for your dog to become severely ill. Call your vet immediately! When it comes to poisons, early treatment is essential for good outcomes.
A few of the most common toxins are:
- Over-the-counter medications such as pain-killers
- The artificial sweetener Xylitol
- Grapes & Raisins
- Slug bait
- Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs
- Azaleas and rhododendrons
Pain is always an emergency! If your dog is showing obvious signs of pain such as vocalizing, panting, drooling, or profoundly limping do not allow your dog to suffer needlessly. When your dog is in pain, it's time to head to the emergency vet for care.
Vomiting & Diarrhea
All dogs vomit at some point, and most dogs will have the odd loose stool, however repeated bouts of vomiting or diarrhea can rapidly lead to dehydration which can be extremely serious. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be symptoms of serious conditions such as poisoning or gastrointestinal obstruction. If your dog is repeatedly vomiting or passing loose stool, call your vet or emergency vet right away for advice.
If you have a young puppy it's extremely important to watch for signs of Parvo. Parvo in puppies is a common disease with potentially deadly consequences. If your puppy is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting call your vet or emergency vet immediately! Parvo is extremely contagious, be sure to let the vet know your suspicions so that they can take appropriate quarantine measures to protect other animals.
Inability to Urinate
An inability to urinate (or reluctance to urinate) could be a sign of a bladder infection or something much more serious. While bladder infections can be very painful for dogs they aren't life threatening. That said, an inability to urinate could be a sign that your dog's urinary tract has become obstructed by bladder stones. If your dog is unable to urinate there is a very good chance they are in pain and require urgent veterinary care. Call your vet or emergency vet as soon as possible.
Ultimately, it will be up to you whether to take your dog to the emergency veterinary clinic or into your vet for an emergency appointment. However, when it comes to protecting your dog's health we always feel that it's better to err on the side of caution, when in doubt contact your emergency vet for help.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
If your dog is in need of urgent care during our regular hours, call us immediately or bring your pet in as soon as possible. Starting treatment right away may help to reduce recovery time and may even save a life.
Looking for a vet in the Thomasville area?
We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.
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