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Top 10 Pet Emergencies and How to Prevent Them

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Veterinary emergency clinics see thousands of injured and sick pets every year. It has been estimated that 92% of all pets will experience some type of severe emergency situation over the course of their lifetime.

Below is list of the top 10 pet emergencies and some tips on how you might prevent them.

1. Fracture – Most fractures result from pets being hit by a car, jumping from heights, or other types of trauma. Protect your pet by keeping him on a leash or in a fenced in yard, keeping windows closed and screens secure, and ensuring your pet is safely confined in a pet-approved car seat or seat belt. Do not let your pet loose in the back of an open bed vehicle or by a completely open window in the house or car. And finally, do not let small dogs jump from your arms, as this is a relatively common cause of a fractured leg.

2. Gastric torsion (bloat) – Bloat is a life-threatening condition caused by rotation of the stomach. The underlying cause is often unknown, however, there is an increased incidence in large breed dogs with deep-chested conformations. Occurrence is higher in the evenings and at night and may be associated with dogs that over eat or drink followed by exercise. Ways to minimize the chance of occurrence is to feed more than one meal a day, avoid allowing a pet to over eat or drink, and avoiding exercise after meals.

3. Gastric foreign body – "Foreign bodies" are objects pets may eat which subsequently get "stuck" in their stomachs or intestines. Making sure your pet's chew toys are safe and he is not exposed to objects he may tempted to eat can prevent foreign body ingestion. When choosing chew toys, make sure that they are durable or they don't have parts that can pull off and be eaten. Make sure trashcans are covered, laundry is placed safely away and children's toys are picked up. Common foreign bodies include: socks, coins, underwear, ribbon, string, cassette tapes, children's toys, string or wrappers from meat, and just about any other object a pet can find in a vulnerable trashcan.

4. Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) toxicity – Antifreeze is sweet and pets like it. It is a deadly toxin and as little as one teaspoon can kill a small dog or cat. Prevent exposure by making sure your pet does not have access to any fluids that are commonly outside or in garages. Don't let your pet roam. Just because you are careful does not mean that your neighbor is careful. Buy antifreeze products that do not contain ethylene glycol and are labeled as "pet" safe just to be extra careful.

5. Insecticide toxicity – Most toxicities from insecticides occur from a well-intended pet owner applying pet store purchased medication to pets. Cats and small dogs are extremely sensitive. NEVER apply a dog medication to a cat. The very safest thing to do is to check with your veterinarian to ensure a product is safe before applying.

6. Lacerations (multiple) – Most "multiple" lacerations occur from pets hit by a car or from an animal fight. Protect your pet by ensuring that he does not run unrestricted. Keep him in a fenced in yard or on a leash. Even if he is in the yard, check on him frequently. Depending on the height of your fence, other pets might be able to get in.

7. Snail bait ingestion – Most ingestion of snail bait occurs from dogs that have access to the exposed chemical in the yard or finding an open bag in the house, garage, shed or yard. Keep all chemicals out of reach, on a shelf, in a secondary container, or in a closed cabinet.

8. Household chemical ingestion –Household chemical ingestions frequently occur from dogs chewing and playing with bottles of full products or from licking spilled chemicals. Make sure your dog does not have access to chemicals. Take special care when you have open chemicals during cleaning, so that your pet does not have access to the chemicals or your bucket of cleaning supplies.

9. Lacerations (single) – "Single" lacerations most often occur from either pets stepping on glass, nails or other sharp objects or from getting "caught" on something in the yard. Nails, sharp areas on the fence, or trash are all possible areas of danger that can cause lacerations. Check out your yard and fence periodically for possible hazards.

10. Soft tissue trauma – Soft tissues include the skin, muscle and areas between the skin and muscle. Trauma to these tissues can occur from pets being hit by a car, falls, fights and just about any kind of injury. Protect your pet by preventing him from dangers leading to trauma. A 6-foot non-retractable leash with a good quality collar that has a good snap may keep him close and safe.

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