Top 10 Symptoms Your Cat or Dog Needs Emergency Veterinary Care

Emergency Veterinary Care in Broken ArrowIt can be a difficult decision to know when to bring your dog or cat to the veterinary office, especially at weekends or at night. Listed below are top 10 important warning signs that should help conscious pet owners to seek Emergency Veterinary Care:

Eye Emergencies

Eye problems should not be ignored because they have more serious consequences compared to other parts of the body. A small amount of discharge from the eye is not alarming, but if the eye looks very red, swollen from the socket, has excessive tearing or swelling, it is strongly recommended that you visit the veterinary. A red eye may indicate viral or bacterial infection, trauma, bleeding or corneal disorders such as high blood pressure and glaucoma. If left untreated, vision loss can be a serious consequence.


Anorexia or loss of appetite within 24 hours may not be a serious problem, but after the 24-hour period, the pet owner should consider taking emergency veterinary care. A pet can report a debilitating illness or disease to its owner by refusing food. It can also lead to severe dehydration and lethargy. In cats, anorexia can cause a life-threatening condition called “Hepatic lipidosis”. The body of cat functions differently during periods of hunger than a dog or human body in which fat stores are processed for use as energy. In the cat’s body, fat stores are not converted in the same way, but are delivered to the liver and accumulate there, which cause liver malfunction. If not treated, it can cause a liver damage and your pet may die.

Difficulty in Breathing

Shortness of breath is a medical emergency which is called “Dyspnea”. Your pet may have clinical signs of choking sounds or wheezing or even open-mouthed breathing. The causes of Dyspnea may be related to a foreign substance in the throat, a severe allergic reaction, a lung disease or heart disease. Assessing your pet’s gums is an important way to access adequate oxygenation. It would be a good idea to check your pet’s gum before an emergency occurs. The gums should be pink and wet, and when pressed, it should temporarily turn white and then, in a second or two, they turn pink again, this is known as capillary refill time. If your pet’s gums are pale, white, blue, or gray, this should indicate urgency.


Intermittent or occasional vomiting is not considered a medical emergency for your pet. But if your pet has eaten something that disturbs the gastrointestinal tract and the vomiting occurs more or frequently then an immediate veterinary care is recommended. If blood is seen in vomit, it is also a serious condition requiring emergency care. Vomiting may indicate a blockage of the foreign body, trauma to the lungs or heart, reactions to a toxin or drug, or irritation of the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or gastrointestinal tract. Prolonged vomiting can lead to life-threatening dehydration.


Diarrhea can also be caused by changes in diet, dehydration or intestinal parasites. As with vomiting, intermittent diarrhea is usually not a medical emergency, but prolonged changes in your pet’s stool can be an indicator of a medical problem. Changes in color or consistency can trigger an alarm for the owner.

Hair or blood in your pet’s stool may indicate infections, constipation of the gastrointestinal tract, gastric ulcers, or bleeding in the stomach.

Changing Behavior in Drinking and Urinating

Pet owners can often see an increase in consumption or the need to urinate their pets. Inability to urinate is a medical emergency because it can indicate the presence of a urinary block. It is best to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. This may be due to various conditions including urinary tract infection, urinary stones or an endocrine disorder such as diabetes or hypo/hyperthyroidism. Urinary tract infection or urinary stones cannot be fatal, but if left untreated serious complications can occur.


It is unlikely that a single life crisis threatens, but with a sudden onset and the possibility of settlements or multiple crises, it is often best to consult a doctor in such cases. Seizures can be caused by more underlying problems, including:

  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Toxin intake
  • Brain mass
  • Epilepsy

Seeking a veterinarian is important to prevent the pet from taking control, understanding the underlying cause of the disease and eventually treating or future seizures in the future.

Collapse or Lethargy

If your pet has a collapsing episode, this is a big problem and requires immediate medical attention. Possible causes of the underlying collapse may be related to:

  • Dehydration
  • Internal bleeding
  • Serious heart disease
  • An allergic reaction
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Metabolic disorders (a condition that causes Addison’s disease)

There are various levels of lethargy that can be represented by long periods of sleep, lack of interest in playing with toys or interacting with the owners, a diminished desire to walk or hide in unusual places. If these clinical symptoms persist for longer than 24 to 48 hours, a visit to a veterinarian is recommended.

Flatulence or Abdominal Pain

Another serious warning sign for a medical emergency is a bloated abdomen. If the pet shows this clinical sign or appears to be painful when you feel his abdomen, ask for a veterinary examination as soon as possible. Flatulence can sometimes indicate a serious condition called gastric dilation-volvulus, also known as swelling. In this condition, the stomach actually spins, creating a complete obstruction. Other possible causes include internal bleeding (broken spleen) or fluid expansion due to heart disease.

 Paralysis of the Legs

If your pet suddenly has difficulty or cannot use one or more of his legs, this is usually a medical emergency. This may indicate a hernia in a part of the spinal cord, which is often very painful. Diagnosing and treating this disease as early as possible can greatly improve the prognosis and outcome. Mostly dogs with longer bodies like Dachshunds as well as Corgis are predisposed to this particular condition. Paralysis can also indicate a neurological disorder that leads to changes in your pet’s brain. It is important to note incoordination, lethargy, rapid eye movements (called Nystagmus), or lack of supervision or reaction to verbal sounds/signals. If you notice a sudden change in the mental state of your pet, you should consult a veterinarian immediately.