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Signs Your Dog or Cat Needs an Emergency Vet

Pets, like people, can develop conditions that necessitate immediate medical attention. Our South Salem veterinarians explain when emergency care is required and what to do in those situations.

Contact your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic immediately
if your pet is having an emergency.


How do I know if my pet needs Emergency Care?

Situations that require an ER for pets can occur at any time, day or night, and you'll need to be prepared for if - or when - it happens to your pet.

Because recognizing when your pet requires emergency care is not always easy, you'll need to be aware of some signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the Emergency Vet is required. If you're unsure, seek assistance from your veterinarian or an emergency vet clinic.

Signs of a Pet Emergency

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Obvious pain
  • Loss of balance
  • Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones

Basic First Aid

Please be aware that attempting first aid on your pet is not intended to replace veterinary care, it is solely to stabilize your pet for a trip to your vet or emergency clinic.


Begin by muzzling your pet. Apply pressure with your hand to a clean gauze pad over the injury until blood clotting begins (usually several minutes). Severe leg bleeding necessitates the use of a gauze tourniquet and an elastic band to secure it; take your pet to the veterinarian right away.


Remove objects that may hurt your pet. Do not attempt to restrain them. Keep your pet warm after the seizure is over and phone your vet.


Muzzle your pet. Lay them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. Secure them to the stretcher if possible, avoiding the injured area.


Be wary of your pet biting out of fear. Look for foreign objects in their mouth and try to remove them if possible, but be careful not to push the object deeper into their throat. If it's difficult, don't waste time on it; you could be wasting valuable time. Bring your pet to the veterinarian right away.

What You Should Know in Advance

Our vets recommend preparing and having the following available in case of an emergency:

  • The phone number for your vet's office
  • The phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
  • The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
  • Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
  • Knowledge of basic CPR for pets
  • Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
  • How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others

Financial Responsibilities

Emergency care for your pet can be expensive due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment necessary. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure you can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.

With emergency savings or pet insurance plans, it may be easier to plan ahead for unforeseeable circumstances. Delays in care to avoid emergency fees may jeopardize your pet's life, so it's important to keep this in mind when getting a pet.

If your pet is in need of emergency care, please contact our South Salem Animal Hospital or go to your nearest emergency veterinarian clinic immediately.

New Patients Welcome

South Salem Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of South Salem companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Contact (914) 763-3123