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Post Categories: Pet Health Tips

Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Care

Cat Patient at VSEC Thousand Oaks

When your pets are sick or injured, it can be difficult to know whether their condition warrants immediate medical attention. Although certain signs such as collapse or bleeding are alarming and often trigger pet owners to take their pet to an animal emergency hospital right away, some life-threatening conditions do not exhibit such obvious signs.

Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Care

The following signs and symptoms listed below are not definitive. It would be nearly impossible to name all conditions and signs that require immediate emergency care, as this list would be quite extensive. These are some of the most common signs that your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Please note: Even if your pet is not exhibiting one of these signs, if something simply does not seem right with him or her physically or your pet is suddenly behaving out of character, please contact your veterinarian. If your veterinarian’s office is closed, please contact your nearest emergency animal hospital for guidance.

VSEC Thousand Oaks is open 24 hours for emergency and critical care services. Give us a call (805) 492-2436 or walk in anytime.

  • Bite wounds (from another pet or wildlife)
  • Behavior changes (sudden or significant behavior changes)
    • Pets in pain might hide in secluded places or become aggressive when handled. This is instinctive, as they feel vulnerable and, therefore, try to protect themselves.
  • Bleeding
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Collapse
    • Your pet may exhibit other signs prior to collapse such as fainting, difficulty breathing, weakness or stumbling around, heavy panting from being overheated, and more.
  • Choking
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Excessive coughing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Heat stroke
  • Ingestion of poison/toxic materials
    • If your pet ate something toxic, please contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control and visit a veterinarian. Signs can sometimes exhibit hours later, and conditions can progress rapidly.
  • Injuries (including cuts, lacerations, eye injuries, broken limbs, etc.)
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Pale or discolored gums
  • Pain
  • Severe allergic reactions (swollen face/muzzle/eyes, breathing difficulties, hives, rapid onset diarrhea/vomiting)
  • Snake bites
  • Swollen abdomen
    • This is a common sign of bloat, which is a life-threatening condition. Read more about bloat here.
  • Trauma/hit by car, fall, or other type of injury

In many cases, your pet may exhibit multiple symptoms. For example, if your pet has heat stroke, he or she might show signs of excessive drooling, panting, weakness, stumbling, and collapse as the condition worsens. Our advice is that if you see your pet showing any one of these signs, it’s best to get your pet seen by a veterinarian right away.

Dr Lindsay Tangeman with puppy patientIn cases in which your pet’s life is not in danger, visiting the ER might still be wise. The emergency veterinarian may catch a condition/illness in its early stages and begin treatment, often relieving pain and expediting healing. As humans, we make the call as to whether we go to the emergency room or take a loved one or instead wait until we can get into the doctor’s office. For example, an ear infection might not be life threatening, but it can be extremely painful. There are those of us who choose to wait until we can see our primary care doctor the next day. The knowledge that we will find relief at that time makes it easier to endure the pain. Alternatively, some of us would rather visit the ER or an urgent care facility to receive treatment immediately. The difference between our pets and us is that we can make that choice, whereas our pets cannot. You know your pet best. Based on your pet’s personality, medical history, and so forth, you might want to go to an emergency veterinarian sooner rather than later.

Emergency animal hospital staffs are accustomed to answering phone calls from panicked pet owners. If you are having trouble deciding whether you should bring your pet in, don’t hesitate to call and ask. Although they will not be able to diagnose your pet without an examination, they can help guide you in recognizing emergency symptoms or offer advice about steps to take if symptoms progress.

Different Types of Emergency Animal Hospitals

After-hours facilities are usually open when your primary care veterinarian’s office is closed, typically nights, weekends, and holidays. A veterinarian might examine your pet on an outpatient basis or, if admitted to the hospital, your pet may undergo diagnostic tests before beginning treatment. If your pet is stable, he or she will be discharged to you in the morning or transferred to your primary care veterinarian. If your pet is in serious condition or requires more advanced care, he or she may be referred to a specialty or 24/7 emergency hospital for intensive care and monitoring.

Full-service emergency and critical care facilities are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. These emergency rooms are generally, but not always, tied to a hospital that also staffs board-certified specialists. If pets need to remain hospitalized, they can do so at a full-service hospital and receive 24-hour monitoring by a dedicated ICU team with access to resources not typically found at a primary care clinic

VSEC Thousand Oaks Is Here for You – 24/7

VSEC Thousand Oaks Pet OwnersVSEC Thousand Oaks is a full-service 24-hour animal hospital. In addition to emergency and critical care, we also provide pet owners and veterinarians in the community specialized care for their pets and patients. Our board-certified team includes veterinarians in emergency and critical care, cardiology, dentistry and oral surgery, internal medicine, and surgery. An experienced group of veterinary technicians (nurses) also works on the frontline, helping provide triage and care for patients.

Primary care veterinarians refer their patients to VSEC Thousand Oaks when after-hours care is needed and/or if the animal needs a specialist’s expertise. Your pet will benefit by access to more sophisticated equipment and to a team of experts experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions.

The emergency and critical care department is led by a board-certified emergency and critical care specialist and staffed with several dedicated emergency clinicians—no interns here: everyone is experienced and has chosen emergency services as his or her line of work. No appointment is ever needed for emergency services, but we do suggest you call in advance if possible so that we may prepare for your arrival. Please call (805) 492-2436 or walk in anytime.



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