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Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Care

Knowing when your pet is in need of emergency care isn't always obvious. Here, our Fort Worth vets share some of the signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency vet is necessary. 

Emergency Care for Pets

Day or night, a situation that requires emergency veterinary care could occur, and you'll need to be prepared, if or when it happens to your animal.

It can be difficult for pet owners to determine when their dog, cat, or other pet requires emergency care. That is why knowing some of the signs and symptoms that indicate the need for an emergency vet visit is beneficial. If you're still unsure, seek advice from your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic.

Signs of a Pet Emergency

Below is a list of symptoms that, more times than not, indicate that your cat or dog requires emergency care.

  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Obvious pain
  • Loss of balance
  • Sudden blindness, staggering, or stumbling
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye

Basic First Aid

Below, we'll discuss some basic first aid you can give to your pet depending on the situation. Please note that performing basic first aid on your pet is not intended to replace veterinary care, it is solely to stabilize your animal for a trip to your emergency vet.


Before you begin, muzzle your pet. Place a clean gauze pad over the injury and apply pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins. For severe leg bleeding, a gauze tourniquet with an elastic band will be required. Bring your pet to the veterinary clinic right away.


Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Try to remove objects that may hurt your pet. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet. 


Your pet should be muzzled. To transport your pet to the vet, place them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher. Secure your animal to the stretcher as much as possible without putting pressure on the injured area.


Because your pet may bite in fear, you must exercise caution. Examine your pet's mouth for foreign objects and, if possible, remove them. Take care not to push the object further down your animal's throat. If this is too difficult, don't waste your time attempting it. Transport your pet to a veterinarian's office or an emergency veterinary clinic right away.

Being Prepared

Below, we'll discuss how you can be prepared in the event that your pet needs emergency care.

What You Should Know in Advance

You never know when an emergency will strike, but being prepared for a pet emergency can help you provide the best possible care to your animal as quickly as possible. Our Fort Worth veterinarians recommend keeping the following items on hand in case of an emergency:

  • The phone number for your vet's office
  • The phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
  • The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
  • How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others
  • Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
  • Knowledge of basic pet CPR
  • Knowledge of how to stop bleeding

What to Do in an Emergency Situation

Remain Calm: Stay calm and exercise caution when approaching your pet. Animals in pain may react defensively and potentially bite or scratch, as they are likely scared by the unfamiliar circumstances.

Call Your Vet or Emergency Animal Hospital: Contact your vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital to inform them that you are coming. It is important to provide them with any relevant information about your pet's condition for prompt and effective treatment. 

Follow the Instructions They Provide: Upon calling the emergency pet hospital to notify them of your impending arrival, be prepared to receive instructions on how to administer first aid or provide comfort to your pet. It is important to follow these directions carefully and attentively. 

Bring Your Pet in for Care: Make sure to prioritize your safety and the safety of your pet by taking them to the veterinary clinic or emergency animal hospital as soon as possible. It is important to seek professional help in order to ensure the well-being of your beloved companion.

Financial Responsibilities

Due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment required, emergency veterinary care can be expensive. It is a pet owner's responsibility to ensure that they can financially care for their pet in a time of crisis.

Prepare for unforeseeable circumstances by putting money aside specifically for emergencies, or by signing up for a pet insurance plan. Putting off veterinary care in order to avoid emergency fees could put your pet's life at risk. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is in need of emergency care, please contact our Fort Worth animal clinic or go to your nearest emergency veterinarian clinic immediately.

New Patients Welcome

Harris Parkway Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fort Worth companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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