9 Symptoms That Require an Emergency Vet

A trip to the emergency vet can be costly and stressful, but there are times when your pet is counting on you. Debating whether or not to take your pet to receive emergency veterinary care (or waiting until your usual vet's office is open), can be a difficult decision that means the difference between spending thousands of dollars versus hundreds of dollars. However, it could also mean the difference between life and death.

The following symptoms require emergency veterinary care:

1. Open Wounds

Probably the most obvious symptoms that require visits to pet hospitals are open wounds, serious burns, and broken bones. If your pet has been hit by a car, cut by a fence, in a fight with another animal, or has experienced some other accident, take your pet to the emergency vet immediately.

2. White, Blue or Pale Gums

Discolored gums are signs of:

  • shock
  • low blood pressure
  • poor circulation
  • anemia
  • internal bleeding

They are one of the first signs that something is seriously wrong with your pet. Pet hospitals recommend that you check in pets with pale gums as soon as possible.

3. Toxin Ingestion

If you believe that your pet has ingested toxins such as pesticides, chocolate, onions, alcohol, or human medicines, take your pet to the emergency vet immediately.

4. High or Low Body Temperature

If your pet seems lethargic, try taking its body temperature. Normal body temperature for dogs is 101-102 degrees and for cats is 100.5 to 102 degrees. If your pet's temperature falls out of these ranges, seek immediate medical attention.

5. Crying out Incessently and Loudly

Abnormal and loud cries may indicate that your pet is suffering from severe pain, even if there are no external symptoms.

6. Irregular and Excessive Cough

Odd coughing may be a sign of an infection or problems with the trachea or heart that require immediate attention.

7. Bloated Abdomen

A bloated abdomen can be a sign of serious abdominal trouble and restricted blood flow. If left untreated, this could lead to death. It may be accompanied by unusual vomiting and agitation.

8. Heavy or Labored Breathing

Heavy or labored breathing may be a sign of a heart problem, overheating, or a respiratory problem. However, heavy breathing may also be a sign of stress or a complication of obesity (in which case a trip to your regular vet may suffice), so pay attention to your dog's surroundings and decide if you would rather be safe than sorry.

9. Seizure

If your pet is experiencing a seizure or falls unconscious, take him to the pet hospital immediately. If caught in time, a seizure may be prevented from causing permanent nerve or brain damage.

If your regular vet is open, you may try calling her and describing the symptoms before you take your pet to a pet hospital. However, if your regular vet is closed, do not hesitate to bring your pet to a pet hospital should he exhibit any of these symptoms.