Your Guide to Dog Emergencies


Bloat. Restlessness, nonproductive attempts to vomit, and a noticeable enlargement of the stomach area common signs. This is an emergency. Keep your pet calm and comfortable and get to your veterinarian immediately. The stomach may need to be “decompressed” and emergency surgery may be necessary. There is no home care for bloat.

Blood in the Stool. Blood in the stool is a common symptom in pets. Usually, small amounts of bleeding are not a true emergency if the pet is otherwise acting normal. Do a physical exam of your pet. Check your pet’s gums for color (they should be pink) and assess for other abnormalities. Has your pet been eating? Vomiting? Are there other signs of bleeding? Obtain a sample of the bloody bowel movement and proceed to your veterinarian.

Blood in the Urine. If you observe blood in the urine, take your pet to your veterinarian for evaluation. Observe closely for any associated clinical signs such as pain or straining when urinating. If possible, obtain a voided (free-catch) urine sample from your pet and take it with you when you visit your veterinarian. Evaluate your pet’s environment for possible exposure to toxins (specifically, anti-coagulant rat poison).

Blood Sugar Problems. Observe your dog’s general activity level, appetite and attitude. Low blood glucose can result in disorientation, weakness or seizures (convulsions). If you notice any of these symptoms in an otherwise responsive pet, offer food immediately. If you have reason to suspect hypoglycemia, you should rub Karo® syrup on your pet’s gums and call your veterinarian immediately. See your veterinarian to identify, treat and monitor the underlying cause. Pets being treated for diabetes can develop hypoglycemia, especially when on insulin.

Bruises. Minor bruises caused by trauma can be treated by applying a cool compress to the area for 5 to 10 minutes every 6 to 8 hours. If there are bruises and you are not sure where or how they arrived, protect your pet from injury or falls and see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Burns from Chemicals. If you witness a chemical ingestion, immediately flush the mouth with large amounts of water. This can help reduce the amount of chemical in the mouth and may reduce the damage. Do not induce vomiting. Call your veterinarian to determine if further treatment is necessary. You may also read the bottle/package for toxicity information. Often there is a 1-800 number that will give advise in cases of ingestion. Mild cases can often be treated topically with Glyoxide® three times daily to clean the mouth. This is a human medication most often used to treat canker sores, and it may be sufficient for healing. Make sure your pet continues to eat and drink normally. In more severe cases, there is no home care – please see your veterinarian immediately. Always take the toxin container or package to the veterinarian with you.

Burns from Heat. For very small, superficial, partial thickness burns, carefully apply cool water to stop additional burning. Topical antibiotic creams can help healing. For all other burns, immediate gentle cooling with cool water followed by examination and treatment by a veterinarian is recommended. Do not use ice or ice packs. Do not apply butter or any product to the burn. Do not place clothing or covering of any kind on the burn other than cool water.


Can’t Walk or Get Up. If your pet is not alert and seems disoriented or lethargic, read the paragraph below entitled “Collapse.” Observe your dog carefully, and call your veterinarian and explain what has happened. If your dog cannot rise, prepare to transport the animal immediately after speaking with the veterinary hospital personnel. USE CAUTION. Extreme care must be used since your pet may be in pain or confused and may bite the person caring for him/her out of fear. You may have to muzzle your pet.

Car Sickness. Even dogs and cats can develop motion sickness. For some, medication such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), meclizine (Bonine®) and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine®), may help reduce the nausea. These medications are available without a prescription but should never be used unless specifically recommended by a veterinarian. Proper dosage and use are crucial to treating and diminishing the signs of motion sickness. The typical dosage of diphenhydramine recommended by many veterinarians is 1 mg per pound of body weight. This can be repeated every 8 to 12 hours.

Carbon Monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless gas that can result in serious, even fatal, injury. Carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin in the blood, not allowing normal oxygen transport. Without adequate oxygen, the body’s organs, especially the brain and heart, begin to suffer. The best treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning is to remove your pet and yourself from the environment into an area with fresh clean air. Watch for signs of respiratory difficulty and provide CPR if necessary. See your veterinarian immediately.


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