We all become worried when our beloved pets become ill, but when should we take them to an emergency hospital? Annapolis, Maryland has an ER for pets, Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic (AAVEC) but when should it be utilized? What symptoms are serious and need immediate attention, and what can wait until the next day for your regular doctor?


Problems Involving the Eyes

Almost any problem involving the eye should be seen right away. Glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and foreign bodies beneath the eyelids are common eye diseases where waiting could make the problem worse.

Prolonged Vomiting

Profuse and/or prolonged vomiting is another sign that needs immediate attention. Vomiting has many causes. One possible reason is an intestinal obstruction since pets love to eat so many weird things! If this occurs, the pet can die in a matter of hours, so an ER trip is warranted. Blood in vomit and/or stool can be serious especially in small, young pets or senior citizens. Call our office immediately or AAVEC after office hours.

Difficulty Breathing

Difficulty breathing is also a problem that should not wait. This symptom again has many causes but almost all need immediate attention. Difficulty breathing may be a severe cough, but more commonly manifests itself as an exaggerated effort in breathing, as pets attempt to use their abdominal muscles to help them breathe. At first, people may not notice their pet is having difficulty, but they may note that their pet does not want to lie down, seems unable to find a comfortable position and can even become anxious.

Heavy Bleeding

If there is active hemorrhage (bleeding), of course, the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away. If there is a small wound with just a few drops of blood, it is probably OK to wait for your regular veterinarian.

Back Legs not Working

If your pet suddenly can’t use its back legs, is dragging its rear legs, or is unable to get up, this is an immediate emergency. This is a common problem, especially in Dachshunds, and emergency surgery may be needed to save the spinal cord. For the best outcome in these cases, time is of the essence.

Unexpected Seizure

If your pet has its first seizure, it should be examined immediately. Seizures are just a symptom, they have many causes, and they should be checked without delay. The pet should be monitored closely for the next several hours as another seizure may occur. If your pet has had seizures before, has been diagnosed with epilepsy, is on medication, and has another seizure, it may not need to visit the ER each time it has a seizure, but if a seizure lasts more than a couple minutes, or there are clusters of seizures, then a trip to the ER is warranted.

If your Pet Ingests a Toxin

If your pet ingests a toxin, it is anurgent emergency and must be addressed as soon as possible. The doctor may induce vomiting to try to eliminate some of the toxin, so time is essential to successful treatment. If there is even a possibility the pet ingested antifreeze, it is important to get to the ER immediately. There is a test to determine if they ,in fact, did drink any of the poison, and the antidote needs to be given within a couple of hours.

Difficulty Giving Birth

If your pet is pregnant, and is having difficulty having the babies, it should see the veterinarian immediately. This problem is called a dystociaand an emergency caesarean section maybe needed. Veterinarians advise that a puppy or kitten should be born within two hours of the mother starting active labor, and there should be no more than one hour between puppies or kittens. But, if you see a baby stuck in the birth canal, take them to an veterinarian right away.

Of course, there are many other problems that pets can have. Dogs and cats can get into some very odd predicaments that may also require ER care. The dog that gets a tin can be stuck to its tongue, or the bone lodged around its lower jaw, does not have a true emergency, but they sure will be happier if they can get them removed as soon as possible!

If you need advice on whether your pet’s symptoms should have immediate attention or feel your pet should be seen immediately, call Hoffman Animal Hospital (410) 757-3566 for advice. We will be happy to discuss your pet and their problem.

If you feel your pet needs to be seen immediately and it is after office hours, call Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic (410) 224-0331. The doctors at AAVEC can stabilize and treat your pet until it can be transferred and/or monitored by our team at HAH.