VSEC believes that empowering pet owners with critical medical information leads to happier, healthier pets. The more you know before a medical situation occurs, the more your pet benefits.
Below is a general medical advice for common conditions. This advice is intended for informational purposes only.
If your pet is undergoing a medical emergency, please contact your family veterinarian or our hospital immediately.
Small abrasions that don’t fully penetrate the outer layer of skin can generally be attended to at home by keeping them clean.
If the wound is bleeding, or penetrating (for example if the wound was inflicted by another animal), it should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If the wound is superficial, you can use warm water or saline to flush debris out of the wound. Keep the area clean and dry.
It is essential to discourage your pet from licking or chewing that area. Elizabethan collars are available at your veterinarian’s office or pet stores and should be worn at all times until the affected area has completely healed.
Monitor the wound for redness, swelling, discharge, odor or pain. If these signs are present, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian for antibiotics and additional therapy. A veterinarian should also evaluate large, infected abrasions or multiple abrasions. Remember, you should not apply dressings or ointments to the wound unless specifically instructed to by your veterinarian.
- Allergic Reaction
Allergic reactions can cause a variety of symptoms including swelling, itching, and redness around the eyes, eyelids, muzzle, nose and ears. In more severe cases, signs may include generalized hives, severe facial swelling and difficulty breathing.
Allergic reactions can occur for a variety of reasons, including insect bites and stings, food allergies and reactions to vaccinations. Many times, it is difficult to determine the underlying cause of the reaction.
Most animals will need to see a veterinarian to receive the initial allergy medication by injection but call your veterinarian first for advice.
Always keep over the counter diphenhydramine (Benadryl) available at home. This is an antihistamine and is a common treatment for allergic reactions. If your pet is less than 10 pounds, the liquid form of diphenhydramine is easier to administer than the larger, tablet form. Prior to using any medication, please contact your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate dose for your pet.
(Also see Insect Reactions.)
- Artificial Respiration
If your pet stops breathing, he or she must be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
On the way to your vet, you may be able to help your pet.
To breathe for the animal:
- Extend the neck so there is a straight airway.
- Close the mouth.
- Place your mouth around its nose and mouth (or just the nose, if it is a large dog) and blow air until the chest expands.
Be sure to keep the neck extended straight, not flexed. You should be able to see the chest expand with each breath. This should be performed every five seconds. Do not overdo.
If there is no heartbeat, CPR should be initiated.
Basic CPR includes breathing and chest compressions:
In Small Dogs or Cats: Squeeze the chest using one or both hands around the chest. Depress the rib cage circumferentially, 100 to 150 times per minute.
In Large Dogs: Compress the chest wall with one or both hands, depending on the size of the dog and the size of the rescuer. The dog should be placed on their side (in lateral recumbency) and the person performing CPR should place their hands on the side of the chest wall where it is widest. Depress the rib cage 1.5 to 4 inches, depending on the dog’s size. Do this 80 to 120 times per minute.
Continue CPR until you become tired and can’t continue. If there is a second person able to perform CPR, switch every 2 minutes.
All resuscitated patients should be transported to a veterinary facility for further examination and care!
- Birthing (Dogs: Whelping and Cats: Queening)
The gestation period for most animals is approximately 58 – 64 days. Fetal skeletons can be evaluated by x-ray after 45 days. We recommend a survey radiograph to see how many kittens or puppies you should be expecting.
At the time of birthing, we generally see most mothers nesting and seeking isolation. Keep them calm and as comfortable as possible.
Once birthing begins, expect a puppy every 45 – 60 minutes. Generally, there are 10 – 30 minutes of hard contractions with each puppy. If the mother is having frequent and hard contractions for over an hour or if she takes longer than four hours between puppies (if you know how many puppies she is having), she should be seen by a veterinarian.
Cats tend to queen a litter faster than dogs, but in contrast to dogs, where once a puppy is produced you should see the next puppy within 4 hours, cats can occasionally take up to 24 hours to birth an entire litter.
Help clean the airways and remove the sac around the kitten or puppy to make sure they are breathing. Immediately place them back with their mother to be cleaned and nursed.
You should seek immediate veterinary attention if the mother shows any of the following clinical signs:
- She appears to be in pain.
- She is having strong contractions for 30 – 60 minutes without a baby produced.
- There is greater than 4 hours between puppy births (if you are expecting more puppies).
- There is a puppy (or kitten) stuck in the birth canal. (Please do not attempt to remove yourself!)
- More than 65 days have passed since breeding.
- She passes a green-colored or malodorous discharge from the vagina.
If the puppy or kitten is not breathing at birth, please see CPR.
- Bite Wounds
Bite wounds generally become infected so it is usually necessary to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian and started on appropriate antibiotic therapy.
Often what you see on the surface of the body (such as a small puncture wound or bruising) will have extensive deeper tissue damage that you cannot see.
Steps you can take:
Evaluate the wound. Any wound to the chest or abdomen, regardless of the size, has the potential to penetrate into the body cavity, causing severe infection.
Cover the wound with a clean cloth bandage or bandage material and immediately have your pet seen by a veterinarian.
If the wound is on the limb, flush the wound with warm water or saline. Apply pressure with a light bandage if there is active bleeding.
If a wrap or bandage is placed at home, do not too wrap the limb too tightly as this could cut off circulation. The wound and bandage should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.
Following a traumatic event, if your pet does not have any obvious wounds but is acting lethargic, weak, having difficulty breathing and/or seems to be in shock, please have him or her seen immediately. Remember, not all wounds are seen on the outside of the body.
Bleeding can occur for a variety of reasons, notably trauma and clotting problems.
When there is trauma, pets can bleed externally from causes such as cuts and lacerations, or internally such as from the chest or abdomen.
If bleeding is severe, the loss of blood can result in shock. (hyperlink shock: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=295&S=1&EVetID=0)
Emergencies may require you to control the bleeding, even if it is just during transportation to the veterinary hospital. (hyperlink transportation: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=347&S=1&EVetID=0)
If there is external bleeding, during transport to the veterinarian hospital you can apply firm, direct pressure over affected area until bleeding stops. Hold pressure for at least 10 minutes straight (continually releasing pressure to check the wound will hamper clotting). Avoid bandages that cut off circulation.
Call your veterinarian immediately
- Bloat (GDV)
Bloat, or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), is a condition where the stomach rotates (flips) on its own axis thereby cutting off the entrance and exit points to the stomach. The stomach is not able to empty and will become distended with gas.
This process will cause severe pain and compromise the circulation to the stomach and other major organs in the abdomen. Bloat can occur rapidly and lead very quickly to shock or death.
This syndrome is most common in large breed dogs with deep chests and seems to occur more commonly in dogs that have a tendency to be easily agitated or nervous, and sometimes, in dogs who exercise after a large meal.
Symptoms include: (bullet list)
Retching or attempts at vomiting with nothing produced (occasionally they may bring up small amounts of white foamy fluid)
A hard, distended abdomen
Severe abdominal pain
Pacing, panting, restlessness
If you observe any of these symptoms, your dog must be transported to a veterinarian immediately. This is a true emergency and will necessitate surgery.
- Broken Nail
To stop the bleeding, you may pack the nail with styptic powder, cornstarch, flour or white Ivory soap. You or your veterinarian may need to trim the rest of the nail off to prevent further pain, bleeding or infection.
Occasionally, a nail that breaks off very close to the nail bed may infect the toe and require antibiotic treatment. If the nail/toe becomes swollen, red, painful, malodorous, or develops a discharge, please seek veterinary care.
If there is pain that causes limping that persists longer than 1 – 2 days, please seek veterinary care.
It is essential to discourage your pet from licking or chewing the nail/toe. Elizabethan collars are available at your veterinarian’s office or pet stores and should be worn at all times until the affected area has completely healed.
A burn is any injury caused by heat, chemicals, or electricity.
Burns are a medical emergency and should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Prior to evaluating your pet’s burn, please make sure you are safe to evaluate your pet. For example, if there is a heat or fire related burn, make sure to extinguish the fire. If there is an electrical burn, make sure there are no active or live wires that can cause further injury.
In the initial stages, immediately apply a cool water compresses with a clean cloth to the site of the injury. Continue this for at least 30 minutes.
Seek veterinary attention immediately.
- Chocolate Ingestion
Although a single chocolate chip cookie is unlikely to be poisonous to your pet, chocolate can be quite toxic to pets. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic the chocolate is to pets.
Signs of illness are often seen 1-4 hours following chocolate ingestion and may include:
• Neurologic signs (stumbling gait, weakness or hyperexcitability)
• Cardiac arrhythmias
Unfortunately, at larger doses this can be fatal.
If you are concerned your pet ingested chocolate, attempt to estimate the amount of chocolate and the type (baking vs. semisweet vs. dark chocolate or coffee) and call a veterinarian or animal poison control. (See Poisoning.)
If the ingestion was within 2 hours, your veterinarian will likely recommend that you induce vomiting and have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian
Choking can be a frightening and life threatening problem. Fortunately, it is uncommon in our pets.
If you believe your pet is choking, be sure to protect yourself and your pet.
If your pet is conscious, remain calm and try to keep your pet calm. If there is a concern for overheating, you can attempt to cool your pet by applying cool (not cold) water to their body and place a fan on them. This is only a temporary measure as the recommendation is to transport them to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible. Do not place your hands in the mouth of any conscious pet as they may bite you.
If you are concerned your pet is choking and the object is not visible, you can try a modified Heimlich maneuver by standing behind your animal, balling your fists under the sternum and using gentle (but firm) upward thrusts to force air into the lungs to dislodge the object.
If your pet is unconscious:
Immediately check the mouth for signs of a foreign object.
If your pet is still passing some air, it is best to take them to a veterinary facility immediately so the object can be removed under sedation with proper instruments.
If your pet is not able to pass any air, try to remove the object or dislodge it carefully. You can use pliers or tweezers to grasp the object, if the animal is calm and the object is visible.
If the object is not visible, you can try a modified Heimlich maneuver by standing behind your animal, balling your fists under the sternum and using gentle (but firm) upward thrusts to force air into the lungs to dislodge the object.
Even if you are able to dislodge the object, always seek veterinary care after the incident to make sure there are no complications.
If your pet has an object lodged in the esophagus, you may notice difficulty swallowing, hypersalivation and confusion. Please have your pet seen by a veterinarian to remove the object as soon as possible. Esophageal foreign bodies are a true emergency that can cause severe damage to the lining of the esophagus.
Check to see if your pet is choking on a foreign object. If so, see Choking.
If the animal is not breathing and the airway and mouth are free of objects:
• Lay him or her on their side.
• Check for a heartbeat by listening to or feeling the chest where the elbow touches the ribs.
• If there is no heartbeat, start chest compressions with the flat of your hand.
• If the animal is a medium or large, kneel over the body and place one hand over the top of the other over the approximate location of the heart.
• Compress downward, moving the chest in and out rapidly (approximately one compression per second).
Compress the chest hard enough to move the chest wall about 1/3 of its normal position. Overzealous compressions can cause lung bruising, broken ribs and direct damage to the heart.
If the animal is a cat or a small dog, you can place one or both hands on either side of the chest and compress inwards.
To breathe for the animal:
• Extend the neck so there is a straight airway.
• Close the mouth.
• Place your mouth around its nose and mouth (or just the nose, if it is a large dog) and blow air until the chest expands.
Be sure to keep the neck extended straight, not flexed. You should be able to see the chest expand with each breath. This should be performed every five seconds. Do not overdo.
If chest compressions are required to stimulate heart contractions, alternate this with the breathing procedure after 10 heart compressions.
Seek veterinary attention immediately.
Cuts should always be evaluated by a veterinarian to treat for infection and evaluate deeper tissue damage.
Flush the wound with warm water or saline. We recommend flushing with enough fluids to remove all dirt and debris from the area.
If there is bleeding, apply direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth or towel. A bandage can be applied to a wound on a limb if the bleeding will not stop. Do not to apply the bandage too tightly or you will cut off circulation to the limb.
Dehydration is the loss of water from the body and can occur for a variety of reasons including vomiting and/or diarrhea), decreased intake of water, or even excessive loss of fluids, such as with large volumes of urine.
The most common symptom of dehydration is the loss of elasticity in the skin, known as their skin turgor. To check this, you can lightly pull on the skin between the shoulder blades. In healthy pets, the skin will readily come back to its original place. In states of dehydration, the skin will remain tented.
Another place you can check is your pet’s gums. The gums should be a healthy pink color, and moist to the touch. If they are a pale color or very tacky (stick), than can also be a sign of dehydration.
If your pet is suffering from dehydration, you may be required to bring your pet in for medical attention and fluid therapy, especially if there are signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, and appetite loss.
Diarrhea is a common problem in our small animal patients and may be caused by a variety of underlying causes.
If you pet is experiencing diarrhea without any additional clinical signs, withhold food for 12 – 24 hours, to give the intestines a rest. Water should still be given frequently but in small amounts, since dehydration can occur quickly with diarrhea.
If your pet has other signs of illness including weakness, pain, vomiting or agitation, please have him or her seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Hemorrhagic, or bloody diarrhea, may be a sign of colitis or something more serious. This usually requires emergency medical treatment.
Always call your veterinarian for advice. You may be required to bring your pet in for medical attention if the diarrhea persists for more than 24 – 48 hours or if there are concurrent symptoms (vomiting, weakness, lethargy, appetite loss, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea).
Chronic or frequent episodes of loose stool may be a sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a more severe underlying medical condition that often requires veterinary attention.
- Difficulty Breathing
Animals can have difficulty breathing for a wide range of reasons including heart disease, pneumonia, traumatic injuries, and even asthma.
If your pet is breathing faster than expected (i.e. panting when lying down at rest), coughing or gasping for breath, please have them seen by a veterinarian immediately to determine the cause and initiate effective treatment.
Make sure there is no foreign object suck in the airway (see Choking). All coughing puppies, especially newly acquired puppies, should be evaluated for signs of pneumonia.
- Evaluating your pet's gum color
This test is easy to perform unless your pet has naturally black gums or dislikes having its mouth manipulated:
Lift your animal’s lip with no tension and look at the tongue and gum above upper teeth. A normal gum color is pink to slightly red.
The gum should blanch to white and return to pink within 1-2 seconds when pushed and released.
If it takes more than two seconds to return to pink, poor blood circulation is indicated.
Pale or white gums can mean anemia or shock.
Yellow gums are a sign of liver disease or anemia caused by red blood cell destruction.
Very red painful gums point to gingivitis.
Contact your veterinarian if there is a concern of abnormal gum color in your pet.
- Eye Injuries
Any injury to the eye can cause permanent scarring, blindness or long-term complications.
All eye injuries should be seen immediately by a veterinarian.
Prior to leaving for the veterinary hospital, you can flush the eye with commercial saline flush to clear out debris, foreign material and toxins and to ascertain the extent of damage.
If your pet is squinting, hiding from light or has a prolapsed 3rd eyelid, you should seek veterinarian attention immediately.
Any swelling around the eye, discharge from the globe, or accumulation of blood within or around the eye is considered an emergency.
Home treatment of eye injuries is not recommended. Even a simple scratch on the cornea from a thorn could lead to severe damage to the eye.
- Fever (Hyperhermia)
A normal temperature in our small animal (cat and dog) patients is 100-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
An increased temperature occurs when the body temperature goes above 102.5°F and may occur for a variety of reasons including environmental (exposed to warm temperatures, high humidity), anxiety, activity, infection, inflammation, and even cancer.
While activity may cause a high temperature, if the pet is lethargic, weak, and has a high temperature, that is more typical of a true fever.
If your pet has a fever, veterinary evaluation is recommended.
Typically in these cases, the recommendation is to consider both treatment and testing to look for the underlying cause.
Common initial tests looking for the cause of the fever include:
- Bloodwork (CBC and Chemistry Panel)
- Tick Titers (dogs)
- Evaluation of the urine
- Chest X-rays
Additional tests can be considered based on the examination or results of the initial tests listed above.
Initial treatments often include fluids for hydration and to bring down the temperature and antibiotics if there is a concern for an infection.
Fractures are often quite painful to your pet. Always approach with caution. Muzzle your pet if necessary and look for bleeding. Do not pull on the fractured leg.
Transport your pet to your veterinarian as quickly as possible, using a board or large blanket as a stretcher.
Give careful support to any fractured limbs.
We do not recommend applying a splint or bandage to a fractured limb. If the limb is severely unstable or the fracture is open or bleeding, a large blanket can be used to wrap the leg to apply temporary support and stabilization during transport to the veterinary hospital.
Immobilization of the fractured limb is the key, since any movement of the fractured bones can lead to further tissue damage and pain.
- Frostbite (Hypothermia)
A normal temperature in our small animal (cat and dog) patients is 100-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature goes below 100°F and may occur for a variety of reasons including environmental factors (i. e. exposed to cold air), or disease processes such as kidney or heart failure.
Regardless of the cause, if your pet has a low temperature he or she or she should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
Signs that your pet may have a low body temperature include severe shivering, depression, slowed or depressed breathing rate with cold extremities to the touch (especially the tips of ears, toes, and nose).
If your pets rectal temperature is less than 100°F, you can bring them into a warm environment.
If they have a state of frostbite, or extreme cold, you can wrap them in a warm blanket and soak extremities in warm (not hot) water for 20 minutes to melt ice crystals and restore circulation.
Do not rub frostbitten tissue.
Call your veterinarian immediately and have your pet seen as soon as possible.
- Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion or heatstroke (more severe form of overheating) occurs when an animal cannot keep its core body temperature within a safe range (< 106°F).
This is always a medical emergency and your pet should be seen as soon as possible.
Environmental (temperature, humidity, shelter, lack of water), physical (breed, age, weight, exercise) and medical (medications, pre-existing illness) factors contribute to the development of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Pets left in warm cars for even a few minutes are at high risk of developing heatstroke!
Severity of signs depends on how severely the body temperature is elevated, duration of exposure and any pre-existing conditions.
Signs may include:
• Excessive panting
• Brick red gums
• Wobbly gait
Progression to blindness, seizures, collapse, coma and death may occur. Treatment must start immediately.
Remove your pet from the heat and continuously wet him or her down thoroughly by spraying or pouring cool (not cold) water over the animal. Make sure there is complete penetration of the hair coat and that the belly and groin areas are wetted down well.
Avoid complete immersion in water because heat cannot leave the body as effectively.
Use a fan to help cool the animal while wet. If possible, take the rectal temperature and stop cooling measures when the temperature is 103°F.
Once you begin cooling measures, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Continued cooling (air conditioning) in the car is optimal.
- Hit By Car
Unfortunately, being hit by a car is a common occurrence. It is always considered a medical emergency, even if your pet appears normal immediately after the accident.
Before administering first aid, make sure the animal and you are not in danger of further injury from oncoming traffic. In general, we recommend having your pet immediately seen by a veterinarian
In hit by car patients, there are numerous problems that can arise:
- Neurologic disease – head trauma is a common concern.
- Musculoskeletal disease (fracture, bruise, etc)
- A ruptured bladder
- Respiratory issues – Breathing changes from broken ribs, bruised lungs, and causes such as a punctured lung (pneumothorax)
- Blood loss / internal or external bleeding.
At home, you can check for external bleeding and open wounds. If external bleeding is severe, especially if the blood is spurting instead of oozing, apply direct pressure over the wound using a clean gauze or cloth.
If severe bleeding is present and the wound is on the leg, chest or belly, place a clean wrap over the site.
Do not use tourniquets to stop bleeding. If the animal bleeds through a bandage, do not remove the bandage, rather you should place a new one over it.
Check for any abnormal position of the limbs but do not attempt to straighten or re-position them. If a bone is visible through a wound, rinse the area with water and place a clean bandage over the exposed bone.
Transport your pet to the veterinarian immediately on a board, stretcher or a blanket used as a stretcher. Make sure the legs of the animal are supported on the board or stretcher.
Cats and small dogs may be placed in a small box or carrier.
Again, all animals hit by a car should be examined by a veterinarian regardless of how mild the signs may appear to be.
- Hot Spots
Hot spots (otherwise known as an acute moist dermatitis) are common skin conditions seen more frequently in dogs than cats.
These lesions are due to self-inflicted trauma (licking, scratching, biting) that is set off by a skin irritant.
Causes of irritation include:
• Insect and tick bites
• Skin infections
• Grooming complications
Typically, the lesions are moist, red, very tender and itchy and have a foul odor. Hair loss may or may not be present and often the extent of the lesion is not seen if the pet has a thick hair coat.
Lesions can be in multiple areas and grow rapidly in size. Treatment includes stopping the irritation and itching, controlling infection and removing the inciting cause when possible.
For initial home care, clean the area with tepid water and a mild veterinary approved disinfectant solution.
Most importantly, prevent the animal from continued scratching or chewing at the area with use of an Elizabethan collar.
Cool compresses may temporarily relieve the irritation but usually an oral or topical mediation prescribed by your veterinarian is needed. Drying agents as well as antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended by your veterinarian.
- If you need to muzzle your pet
If you need to muzzle your pet, and it is not an emergency, commercial muzzles can often be purchased at a pet store, veterinary hospital, or online merchant.
If there is an emergency and a commercial muzzle is not available, alternative materials you can use to create a muzzle include a strip of soft cloth, rope, necktie or nylon stocking.
Use the material to wrap around nose, under chin and tie behind ears.
Care must be taken when handling weak or injured pets. Even normally docile pets will bite when in pain. Allow your pet to pant after handling by loosening or removing the muzzle.
Do not muzzle any pet that is vomiting or has trouble breathing. Cats and small pets may be difficult to muzzle. In this case, a towel placed around head will help control small pets.
- Insect Bites
(Also see Allergic Reactions.)
Allergic reactions to bees, hornets, yellow jackets, wasps and spiders are common in dogs and cats. Most of the bites and stings occur on the face, ears and paws.
Typical signs of an allergic reaction are swelling and redness around the eyes, eyelids, muzzle, nose and ears. If the bite or sting occurs on the paw, it will be swollen.
Your pet may experience difficulty breathing (see Artificial Respiration) in severe allergic reactions. If an animal has these signs, look for a stinger and remove it with tweezers.
Most animals will need to see a veterinarian to receive the initial allergy medication by injection but call your veterinarian for advice.
Your veterinarian may advise you to have antihistamines (such as Benadryl / diphenhydramine) available at home for any future incidents. If your pet is less than 10 pounds, the liquid form of diphenhydramine is easier to administer than the larger, tablet form. Prior to using any medication, please contact your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate dose for your pet.
- Measuring your pet's pulse
To measure your pet’s pulse, lightly press your fingertips against your pets’ upper inner thigh. You can also place your hand against the chest behind the left front leg.
The normal heartbeat of a resting dog is 80 – 150 beats per minute. Cat heart rates are faster and normal ranges are 160 – 190 beats per minute.
When evaluating your pet’s heart rate, it is important to take that information and interpret it in light of the physical situation. For example, a faster than normal heart rate following a run in the park would be expected. Alternatively, a faster than normal heart rate when a pet is lying down and seems weak would be unexpected.
Rapid heartbeats without explanation (i.e. activity or anxiety) can indicate pain, heart disease or shock, especially if the pulse is weak. If your pet faints or has seizures, slow heartbeats can also point to disease.
As with temperature, levels are lower with rest and higher with exercise and excitement. If your pet’s pulse falls either above or below these ranges please consult your veterinarian.
If you are concerned about a pet poison emergency, please call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435.
This number does charge you for its service, but it is essential for the care of your pet. When you speak to the poison control veterinarian, they will provide you with a case reference number. Please bring this case number to the hospital with you to aid your veterinarian in appropriate therapy.
Signs of poisoning are varied, non-specific and may be delayed depending on the type of toxin ingested.
Some common sources of poisoning:
• Household cleaners
If you know an animal ingested something that might be toxic, call poison control immediately and bring the animal to the veterinarian.
Never induce vomiting without the advice of a veterinarian!
Certain toxins can cause more damage or complications when vomited.
If possible, bring the container or label of the product ingested or, if it was plant material such as mushrooms, bring a sample with you to the veterinarian.
Please refer to the Animal Poison Control Website (link https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control) or call (888) 426-4435.
Puncture wounds may occur from fights with other animals or trauma from sharp objects. They are often deeper than appearance and infection can occur.
Following a trauma event or injury leading to punctures, please approach your pet carefully (or muzzle, if possible) to avoid being bitten. Check the wound for contamination or debris. Clean the area with warm water or saline solution.
Please do not attempt to probe the puncture yourself. Please bring your pet into a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If the object that caused the puncture is still embedded in the wound, do not attempt to remove it; this could cause further damage.
Any deep puncture on the chest or belly should be covered with a clean cloth or gauze and a light wrap before you see your veterinarian.
If your pet is having a seizure, do not move him or her unless the animal is in an unsafe area such as near stairs, furniture or dangerous objects. If so, set up a barricade with pillows and blankets.
During the seizure event, please do not place your hand in or near your pet’s mouth as even the most docile pet can bite during or after a seizure event.
The majority of seizures in pets are of the “grand mal” type. Signs of a seizure include:
• Lying on his/her side with legs paddling
• Abnormal facial movements
• Loss of bladder and bowel control
• Unaware of surroundings
• Unresponsive to stimuli
Accurately time and record the length and severity of the seizure. If possible, you can video the event to show the veterinarian at the time of the examination.
Keep the environment quiet.
All animals should be evaluated by a veterinarian if the seizure was a first time occurrence.
Even if your pet has an epileptic history, immediate veterinary care is needed if a seizure lasts more than 2 minutes or the animal is having several seizures in a day.
If your pet is concurrently being treated for diabetes and experiences a seizure, we recommend administering a small amount of Karo syrup or sugar water, in case the cause of the seizure is low blood sugar. Do not attempt to make the animal swallow if unconscious. Bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
If your pet is being treated for seizures with anticonvulsant therapy, please remember to bring a list of all medications and doses currently used.
- Sprayed by Skunk
If a skunk has sprayed your dog, try this recipe:
32-ounce bottle of hydrogen peroxide
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda
1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
1 gallon of warm water
Combine ingredients and sponge onto animal, allowing mixture to soak to the skin. Allow to air dry. Repeat application if necessary. (This mixture will not bleach your pet’s coat.)
Please keep in mind that interaction with a skunk can leave more than just an odor.
If your pet was sprayed in the eyes, monitor for redness or tearing, excessive blinking, or general discomfort. If you are concerned your pet was sprayed in the eyes, you can flush your pet’s eyes copiously with a sterile, ocular, saline solution (saline eye wash, not for contact lenses). Please contact your veterinarian for further evaluation.
It is also important to check for wounds as an interaction with a skunk can result in bites or lacerations as well.
It is important to remember that skunks may carry Rabies and you should contact your veterinarian immediately if there was interaction with a skunk.
- Tick Removal
Using tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick out using a steady, straight motion, removing the entire tick including the head.
Dispose of the tick by dropping it in alcohol or by flushing down the toilet.
Apply antiseptic ointment to the site.
If any parts of the tick remain in your dog, you can have your veterinarian evaluate the site.
- Urination Blockage (Inability to Urinate)
Urinary blockage is usually a complication seen in male cats and occasionally dogs, although it can occur in both female cats and female dogs as well. Some breeds of dogs (such as Dalmatians) are at higher risk of developing an obstruction due to bladder stones. The obstruction is usually caused by mineral plugs or stones that block the urinary outflow tract (urethra).
Early signs of a possible urinary blockage may include:
• Straining to urinate but producing little to no urine
• Crying/vocalizing when urinating
• Small drops of blood
• Excessive licking at the prepuce or vulva
• Frequent trips in and out of the litter box (cats) or frequent need to go outdoors (dogs)
• Some owners even mistake this for constipation as there are frequent squatting and straining events.
Urinary obstructions will cause waste products, which are normally cleared from the body via urine, to build up in the blood.
This could cause your pet to exhibit some or all of the following clinical signs:
• Collapse or death
The inability to urinate is a life-threatening emergency that must be dealt with quickly. If you notice any abnormalities when your pet is urinating, bring him or her to the veterinarian immediately.
Vomiting is a common problem in our small animal patients and may be caused by a variety of underlying causes.
Vomiting may be of little consequence or possibly life threatening.
If your pet is alert, active, not distressed and vomits only a few times, conservative management at home may be sufficient. Do not offer anything by mouth for 4 – 6 hours and then offer small amounts of water or ice chips.
If there is no vomiting, offer a small amount of bland food 12 hours after the vomiting has stopped. If vomiting persists, see your veterinarian.
Vomiting can be an emergency if any of the following signs are present:
• Blood in the vomit
• The pet ingested medication, a foreign object, toxic material or toxic plants
• Non-productive retching or vomiting
• Swollen belly
• Weakness, lethargy or collapse
• Gums are pale, bluish or dark red
• Pre-existing disease
• Fever (>103°F) or a low body temperature (<100°F)
If the vomiting is persistent or there are other signs of illness including lethargy, diarrhea (with or without blood), a change in gum color, or breathing changes, call your veterinarian for advice.
You may be required to bring your pet in for medical attention if the signs persist or if there are concurrent symptoms (diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, appetite loss, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea).
Chronic or frequent episodes of vomiting may be a sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a more severe underlying medical condition that often requires veterinary attention.