Medical emergencies in dogs can occur suddenly and when we least expect it. Learning to recognize the signs of an emergency for your dog can help avoid panic when things go wrong. It’s important for pet parents to familiarize themselves with a little basic first aid for our furry companions,
Common Emergency Symptoms
Does any of the following apply to your dog? If yes, then you’ll want to visit your local emergency clinic or animal hospital:
- Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within five minutes
- Choking, difficulty breathing or non-stop coughing and gagging
- Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
- Bleeding or bulging eye
- You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (ex. antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.). Check the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) for common household toxins for pets.
- Seizure lasting more than 5 minutes or multiple seizures within 24 hours
- Won’t bear any weight on leg(s) or inability to move leg(s)
- Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety (ex. crying)
- Heat stress or heatstroke. Check the AKC Canine Health Foundation to understand more about dealing with heat stress or a heatstroke in dogs.
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than three episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here
- Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more
- Unconscious or unresponsive
- Pale or yellow-ish gums
- Penetrating or perforating injury
Pro tips for visiting the veterinarian:
- Keep calm and try not to panic, as your dog will sense this. The more quiet, calm and soothing you are, the more they will keep calm.
- Keep your dog warm and dry (unless heat stroke/hyperthermia is suspected) and as still as possible.
- Call your veterinarian or local emergency animal hospital and explain the situation. They will be able to provide immediate triage and first aid advice.
- To safely transport an injured dog that’s a medium-large breed, you may need help from someone. For large dogs, having a makeshift stretcher or utility wagon for your dog will be helpful to keep them still.
- Dogs may be bite when they are in pain or a state of panic, so take care when handling them. A muzzle may be necessary for some situations.