Is your pet experiencing a medical emergency?

Posted: November 20th, 2015 | Featured, Pets | No Comments

By Sari Reis

Being a professional pet sitter, it is essential for me to be able to easily identify when a cat or dog in my care is experiencing a medical emergency.

As a pet parent, it is important for you to be able to recognize a medical emergency in your furry kid. So with help from the website called, I have put together the top 10 occurrences that require emergency attention.

  1. Pain. This is recognizable if the dog or cat is pacing, agitated, restless and/or panting, and has a rapid heartbeat. They may also vocalize by yelping or meowing. If in pain, it is not unusual for the pet to behave aggressively, so exercise caution when handling them. Muzzle if possible before transporting to the vet.
  1. Difficulty breathing. This could be due to trauma, an allergic reaction heart failure, toxins, cancer, etc. Immediate care must be provided.
  1. Seizures. A seizure in a pet is similar to those in humans and can be the result of epilepsy, tumors, brain swelling, low blood sugar, or a disturbance in the electrolyte balance. If your pet has a seizure, get them to the vet as soon as possible.
  1. Difficulty urinating, especially a male cat or dog. As a blockage can occur from the formation of crystals or a stone in the urethra, a male dog or cat can be in a life-threatening situation if they don’t receive immediate veterinary care. Other causes could be inflammation, cancer, blood clots or other urinary tract infections.
  1. Persistent vomiting or diarrhea. If a dog or cat throws up on occasion and there are no other symptoms, it is probably not an emergency. However, if it happens repeatedly over a matter of a few hours, he or she can quickly become dehydrated causing all sorts of major problems. Get them to the vet.
  1. Coughing. If there is a lack of oxygenation or fluid in the lungs, it could indicate a virus, bacterial infection, pneumonia, allergic bronchitis or a foreign object obstructing the airway. Get professional help immediately.
  1. Blunt force trauma. If your dog or cat has sustained an injury that has caused bleeding, lumps, bumps, etc., have it checked by the vet.
  1. Poison. It is essential to know what substances around your home, such as food, household products and plants, that are toxic to dogs and cats. Keep your pets away from them but if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, get them to the vet. You can also call Poison Control.
  1. Allergic reactions. Some pets are allergic to the vaccines they get or to fleas, bees, medications, foods, etc. and have an immediate allergic reaction. It can be indicated by facial swelling, itchiness, hives, vomiting, lethargy and difficulty breathing. Immediate vet care is required.
  1. Bites. If your dog or cat is bitten by another animal, regardless how minor the wound may appear, get them to the vet for emergency attention.

Since pet emergencies can occur anytime and anywhere, I highly recommend that all pet parents take a course in Pet First Aid. How you initially handle your pet’s emergency may very well save its life.

—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or

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