What is a true animal emergency?

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if your animal should be immediately whisked to the veterinarian.


As pet owners, we ask ourselves: is something wrong with my pet?, is my veterinarian able to see me as an emergency?, its after hours...where can I go?; am I overreacting and being too cautious? 

The ultimate question remains: does my pet need immediate veterinary care?


Below is a list of animal emergencies that require immediate consultation with a veterinarian. This will help you sort through when it is, and when it isn’t, important to seek immediate care.

  • your pet is not drinking water for 24 or more hours
  • your pet is unconscious
  • heat stress or heat stroke
  • signs of pain or extreme anxiety
  • broken bones, severe limping, or unable to move legs
  • seizures; staggering gait
  • severe vomiting or diarrhea (more than two episodes in 24 hours)
  • your pet has eaten something poisonous
  • choking; trouble breathing; consistent coughing or gagging
  • severe bleeding; or bleeding that doesn’t stop in 5 minutes
  • bleeding from nose, mouth, anus, blood in the urine, or coughing up blood
  • eye injuries
  • unable to pass urine or feces, or pain when animal is trying to urinate or defecate

credit: flickr, jerry dohnal


Adapted from AVMA resources.

By Dr. Annette Rauch, Founder of PAAWS RI

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