Throughout my years as a veterinary technician and pre-veterinary student, I came across many cases that canines were brought into the emergency clinic when this visit was not needed. On the other hand, there were just as many cases when a canine was not brought in on time. As a canine owner myself, I know it is sometimes however to understand our furry child’s needs. Questioning my actions sometimes with a background in veterinary medicine, I can understand why canine owners are many times confused on what and when to call upon the emergency clinic. Here is a guide to understand what a dog emergency is and when a visit to the clinic should be taken.

First of all, it is important to make sure that a canine owner knows where to take a sick canine. When first adopting a canine, it is important to get a checkup by a local veterinarian. By doing this early on, the owner can get to know the veterinarian on call and also know the services that are offered. While some veterinary hospitals have emergency services available, other cities may have a designated hospital for emergencies. During the first veterinary visit, make sure to ask about emergency services that are available to find out which one is available in your area. It is also important to talk about the price that is pre-set for after normal business hour visits. For example, in my area, there is only a 24 hour emergency clinic and most veterinarians will come in after hours. Therefore, there is around a $70.00 charge just to step into the clinic with a canine. This charge is preset and does not include the visit expenses and medications. On the other hand, the veterinary hospital I used to work for had a veterinarian that would come in if there were an emergency at no extra charge. Just be prepared ahead of time.

So, how do canine owners know if there is something to worry about and to take an emergency trip to the veterinarians? Well, this is more simple than first thought. Use your intuition, if you feel as though there is something wrong with your canine, most of the time there is something wrong. If it is urgent, something must be done. When in doubt, always call the emergency clinic to assure that your intuition is correct. Most of the time your intuition will be correct however on that occasion that it is not, the telephone call will save you lots of money and also save you from a little embarrassment. Either way, the veterinary staff will give you more instructions on how to proceed with the problem.

Some common emergencies:
1. Car accident: If your canine has been involved with a car accident, it is always important to make a visit to the emergency clinic. Even if the canine seems to be just fine, there may be something wrong internally and it is better to catch it before something more serious happens.

  1. Broken Bones: If your canine has been in any accident, either with a car or some other event, it is important to make sure that broken bones are attended to immediately. It is important to note though that a canine that limps does not always have a broken leg. Some common signs of a broken leg are visual signs, crying uncontrollably when trying to stand, refusing food and et cetera. An x-ray at the veterinary clinic will be needed to assure there is a broken leg or a fracture.
  2. Breathing Problems: If your canine is having any kind of breathing problem, it is important to not bother with a telephone to the veterinary hospital — just go! Canines can have breathing problems for many reasons, but is very serious. The most common cause of chocking is caused by eating something that has obstructed the breathing channel. Therefore, a canine owner make not see something happen however it is very important to make an emergency visit.
  3. Continuous Bleeding: When a canine starts minor bleeding due to a minor cut it is important to place a clean rag on top of the cut and apply pressure. Within five to ten minutes of applying pressure, the bleeding should stop. If it does not, your canine should be taken to the veterinary emergency hospital.
  4. Abdominal Pain: This is one of the most serious emergency issues and unfortunately one of the most unknown illnesses. Be aware of canines that seem to yelp when touched in the stomach area, standing with the back arched or refuses food as this these are common signs of abdominal pain. Some more serious signs are dry heaving, vomiting, crying and shaking. These signs are serious to be attended to immediately since it could be “Gastric Torsion”. This occurs usually in larger canines with deep envelop chests such as German Shepherds or Greyhounds. Immediate surgery must be done on the canine otherwise death will occur, hence the urgency. These signs can also indicate kidney failure, stomach aches and so on. It is always important to make sure though before something more serious happens though.

In any case, make sure to watch for these common signs in any canine. Again, if you feel there is something that just is not right with your canine, call the veterinary clinic and as either a veterinarian or a technician for more assistance in analyzing the case at hand. Most canine owners have a special intuition and can sense when something just is not correct, always follow this intuition and everything will work out as they should. Just remember to warn the veterinary clinic of the issue before coming in to assure there is a need for the visit and to get the veterinary team prepared for the case at hand. As always remember to keep calm and if it is not serious, wait until the next morning and make an appointment with your normal veterinarian to make sure everything is just fine.