At some point, your pet will experience a veterinary emergency, often outside normal business hours. How do you know when your pet needs to be seen immediately? Some pet emergencies, such as heatstroke and snake bite, are common in Arizona. Read on to learn about some other common veterinary emergencies that pets in our area may experience, and how Dove Mountain Veterinary can help.
#1: Pet rattlesnake bite
If your pet has been outdoors and now is painful, lethargic, shaking, or having trouble breathing, they may have been bitten by a poisonous snake. Rattlesnakes are the most common poisonous snake in our area. Use caution if your pet is in pain, and look for a swollen area, most commonly near the head, neck, or legs. If their hair coat allows, you may see the telltale fang puncture marks. Contrary to popular belief, you should not apply a tourniquet, or “suck” the venom from the wound. Rather, you should keep the wounded area below your pet’s heart to help limit toxin circulation. Call to alert us that you are bringing in your pet, so we can prepare the appropriate antivenom treatment.
#2: Pet heatstroke
Our extreme Arizona summer temperatures make pet heatstroke a common emergency. The condition arises when high external temperatures overheat your pet. Short-nosed pets are at greater risk of overheating. Pet heatstroke risk factors include lack of shade, exercising in the heat, tight collars, and obesity. Overheating can occur rapidly in a car, including cooler days. Pet heatstroke signs include intense panting, excessive drooling, staggering, collapse, seizures, and bloody diarrhea. If you suspect heatstroke, place cool wet towels on your pet’s paws or stomach. Apply cool water to the ear flaps and paws. Direct a fan onto your pet. Do not apply cold water or ice, which can injure your pet’s skin, or cool them too much. Call us immediately, because your pet needs treatment at our hospital as soon as possible, to prevent organ damage.
#3: Pet car accidents
An unrestrained pet can be hit by a car in only a moment, but pets can also be injured if you have a wreck while they are inside the car. Pet vehicular trauma injuries can include bone fractures and head trauma, as well as internal damage to the chest and abdomen. Sometimes, external wounds and bleeding from the mouth or nose are obvious, but internal injuries are not evident right away. Bring your pet to our hospital after any vehicle accident, so we may monitor them, and treat them for shock, to minimize organ system damage.
#4: Pet vomiting or diarrhea
One episode of your pet vomiting or having diarrhea may not be cause for immediate alarm, but repeated episodes warrant a call to our hospital for emergency treatment. A pet who cannot hold down water will become dehydrated without treatment. Excessive drooling, or blood in the stool or their vomit, may indicate your pet has a serious underlying problem, such as a gastrointestinal foreign body or bloat. Since your vomiting pet may require blood work, X-rays, fluid therapy, and monitoring, they may need to stay for the day. Some vomiting pets require several days of hospitalization.
#5: Pet toxin exposure
Never wait to call if your pet is exposed to a poison—you may wait too long. Have the toxin information ready, and we will help you contact the Animal Poison Control Center. With some pet poisoning, such as lily or antifreeze ingestion, early treatment is crucial, to prevent organ system damage. Other toxins, such as with pesticides and cats, can cause damage with only skin exposure. Other common items that pose serious threats to pets when ingested include human medications, household cleaners, and human foods, such as macadamia nuts, chocolate, and xylitol. Inducing vomiting is indicated with some poisons, but sometimes will make the problem worse.
#6: Pet breathing trouble or collapse
A change in your pet’s breathing can indicate a serious problem. Continual panting can indicate pain or anxiety, while labored breathing can signify a heart or lung problem. If safe, lift your pet’s lip to check for pale, gray, or blue gums. Low oxygenation can lead to organ damage and collapse. Telling the difference between fainting and seizing can be difficult, so describe to our team exactly what your pet is doing. Your input helps us diagnose the problem, since staggering from low oxygen, for example, looks similar to—but is treated differently than—ataxia from a slipped disc. Contact us immediately whenever you notice a change in your pet’s breathing.
The urgent care service at Dove Mountain Veterinary is ready to help you and your pet. Call us when the unexpected arises, and together we will see your pet through any illness or emergency.