The first step when administering first aid is to recognize that the situation is actually an emergency. You are not a trained veterinary professional, so this might be a daunting task, but our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team is here to help, with someone on call around the clock if you have any questions or concerns about your pet. However, our team would also like to explain some conditions that constitute a veterinary emergency, and steps you can take to provide initial first aid. These steps are meant only to assist your pet during a crisis, because your pet should still be rushed to our clinic as quickly as possible, to be evaluated by a veterinary professional.

When your pet collapses

Any issue that causes your pet to collapse should be addressed promptly by a veterinary professional.

  • Why? — Numerous conditions can cause your pet to collapse, including heatstroke, heart failure, internal bleeding, and poisoning.
  • What should you do? — Overheated pets (i.e., pets whose temperature is higher than the normal 101 to 102.5 degrees) should be cooled using a cool—not cold—water bath. Then, keep the windows down and air conditioner on as you drive to the clinic, and call to let us know you are on the way. Pets who are not breathing will need pet CPR en route.

When your pet is having difficulty breathing

This is a veterinary emergency, and your pet needs oxygen as soon as possible.

  • Why? — Pets cannot go long without appropriate oxygenation. Conditions that could cause your pet to have difficulty breathing include asthma, heart failure, pneumonia, trauma, and pulmonary embolism.
  • What should you do? — Do not panic, because your pet will pick up on your anxiety, making any attempt to breathe more difficult. When pets lose consciousness, open their airway by gently pulling their tongue forward. Check for any foreign bodies blocking their airway, and perform rescue breathing en route.

When your pet is bleeding excessively

Excessive bleeding is always a veterinary emergency.

  • Why? — Pets who do not have enough blood circulating through their body can become shocky and die. Severe bleeding, or any bleeding that does not stop in five minutes, is considered excessive, and should be promptly addressed by a veterinary professional.
  • What should you do? — Apply pressure to the wound using sterile bandaging material or a clean cloth. You can use a belt as a tourniquet, if the wound is on your pet’s limb. Keep the wound as stable as possible en route to the clinic.

When your pet has vomiting or diarrhea

This constitutes a veterinary emergency only if the vomiting and diarrhea are persistent.

  • Why? — Monitoring the condition is OK, if your pet vomits or has diarrhea once and seems fine. However, if the vomiting or diarrhea persists, or if signs of illness accompany the gastrointestinal upset, your pet could be suffering from a serious issue, such as toxin ingestion, kidney failure, infectious disease, or liver disease.
  • What should you do? — Call Westerville Veterinary Clinic or Animal Poison Control if your pet may have ingested a toxin, and be ready to relay your pet’s breed, weight, and age. Have the label of the ingested product so you can read out the ingredients and, if possible, relay how much product your pet ingested, and when the incident occurred. A veterinary professional will need to evaluate your pet as soon as possible, if you do not know why they are having gastrointestinal signs.

When your pet cannot urinate

Your pet’s inability to urinate always requires immediate veterinary care.

  • Why? — An inability to urinate can lead to bladder rupture or kidney failure. Conditions that could prevent your pet from urinating include infections, mineral accumulation in the urinary tract, urethral narrowing, and tumors. Pets may be seen straining to urinate, and they may vocalize loudly when posturing to urinate.
  • What should you do? — No first aid approach can relieve this issue. Recognizing the problem as an emergency and getting your pet to the clinic is the best action you can take.

When your pet has an eye injury

Any eye injury in your pet carries the risk of vision loss and requires emergency veterinary attention.

  •  Why? — Any eye injury can progress rapidly and may lead to vision loss. Immediate attention is necessary to preserve your pet’s sight. Signs you will notice include squinting, watery or mucoid discharge from the eye, and rubbing the affected eye.
  • What should you do? — Any obvious foreign body present in your pet’s eye that you can easily remove should be carefully extracted.  Do not attempt to force your pet’s eye open because you may cause further damage. 

Our team at Westerville Veterinary Clinic offers a comprehensive health care plan for our patients. In addition to general services, emergency appointments, which start at $177, are covered for members. Finances are the last issue you want to think about when your pet is in crisis, and Westerville’s health care plan allows you to concentrate solely on your pet during a distressing emergency. If your pet is experiencing a veterinary emergency, contact our Fear Free team immediately.