The #1 Cat Emergency Seen in Emergency Rooms

What is the most common cat condition seen in veterinary emergency rooms? Can you guess?

Most people guess that most emergency situations arise from trauma such as being hit by a car, a gunshot wound, cat bite wounds, falling out of a tree, and other urgent problems. That’s what most people think … but they’re wrong.

The number one reason cats are brought to veterinary emergency rooms is for vomiting.

How to Recognize a Cat Emergency

Symptoms of problems in cats include drooling, lip licking, and vomiting. Some cats will not eat when they are nauseated.

Vomiting can be a symptom of many different problems. Vomiting can be caused by something minor like a viral bug, food change, or something serious such as diabetes, cancer, or kidney disease.

Bloodwork, radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasound tests may be required to help determine the underlying cause. Minor problems can often be treated with medications to stop vomiting and fluids to improve hydration. More serious problems can require additional testing as well as hospitalization for various treatments and even surgery.

Learn more from our medical library article about vomiting in cats. Another very good article that covers what you can do at home is Home Care of the Vomiting Cat.

What You Can Do to Prepare for a Cat Emergency

  1. Make sure you know where your local emergency room is or how your vet deals with emergencies. Keep this information (phone number, hours, address and directions) handy. Some cat owners wonder when to call. Learn more with this article – When Should You Call the Emergency Vet Hotline? This article outlines reasons to worry such as a list of toxins that are a concern and dangerous symptoms such as straining to urinate that should prompt you to go to the veterinarian immediately.
  2. Know your cat’s history and about their current problem. Make sure you know your cat’s medical history and any medications that he is taking. The emergency vet will want to know when the vomiting started, how many times your cat vomited, what the vomit looked like, the last time your cat vomited and if there are any accompanying symptoms, such as lethargy, weakness or diarrhea. Observe your cat closely. If possible, take a sample of any diarrhea with you. This information can really assist the emergency veterinarian to better help you. For more information about how an emergency veterinary clinic works – go to What is an Emergency Vet?
  3. Call your veterinarian or emergency clinic to determine what they want you to do. Their staff will talk to you about your cat’s condition and recommend whether or not you should bring him in to be examined. If your cat has only vomited once, is now acting normal and has no diarrhea, they may give you the recommendation to wait a few hours and see if your cat vomits again. On the other hand, if your cat has been vomiting and is lethargic they may recommend you bring him in immediately.

Trained veterinary personal help you with common questions. Learn more about a Day in the Life of an Emergency Veterinarian.

To prevent problems, prevent your cat’s exposure to trash, table scraps, and other foreign objects. Buy only safe toys and ensure your cat does not chew on any objects around that house that he could swallow and be unable to digest or pass through his system. Cats are especially fond of string, yarn, ribbon, hair ties, and other linear-type foreign bodies. Make any food changes gradually over a period of several days.

What Will It Cost to Go to the ER with a Vomiting Cat?

Vomiting can be expensive to treat, depending on the underlying cause. It is not uncommon for basic treatment to run $175.00 to $300.00. More extensive care requiring tests, such as bloodwork, radiographs (x-rays), and hospitalization can run anywhere from $685.00 to $2,000.00. That’s a lot of money. That’s why I always tell my readers to consider pet insurance.

Is Pet Insurance Right For You?

Pet insurance can pay up to 90 percent of your veterinary bill. This is something you should consider BEFORE your cat has a problem. Take a minute and get a quote now and find out if pet insurance is right for you.

As one of the first pet insurance providers in the U.S., PetPartners has been offering affordable, comprehensive pet health insurance to dogs and cats in all 50 states since 2002. Trusted as the exclusive pet insurance provider for the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association, PetPartners highly customizable options allow pet owners to create a plan that fits their individual needs and budget — so you’re not paying for added coverage you don’t necessarily need or want.

What is an Emergency Vet?

Pet owners commonly wonder what is an emergency vet and what would happen if they had to take their pet to an emergency vet clinic. First, let’s look at what is an emergency vet?

An emergency vet is a veterinarian that focuses their work on veterinary emergencies. Some emergency vets work full time at an emergency clinic while, others do emergency work at their hospitals nights and weekends, and some work emergency shifts as a second job.

In addition to veterinarians that focus their work on emergencies, there are veterinarians that specialize in emergency and critical care. This means that after completing veterinary school, they continue training for 4 to 5 years to obtain this specialized degree. Veterinarians that are board-certified in emergency and critical care commonly have the initials DACVECC after their DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree. DACVECC means Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. For example, a veterinarian that is board certified in veterinary emergency and critical care would be John Smith, DVM, DACVECC.

How Do You See an Emergency Vet?

There are two common ways pet owners have their pets emergencies treated.

The first is that your family veterinarian takes calls and emergencies on weekends and nights. Occasionally a veterinarian may also do house calls however the most common practice is for dog and cat owners to take their pet to the veterinary hospital.

The second way pet owners have their pet’s emergencies treated is through a veterinary emergency hospital. Most large cities have one or several veterinary emergency clinics. Some emergency clinics operate just nights and weekends (basically they are open when the regular vet clinics close) and others are open 24/7/365. Some emergencies clinics are associated with specialty hospitals that offer expertise in cardiology, dermatology, surgery, internal medicine, oncology, avian and exotic, anesthesiology, radiology, critical care, rehabilitation, dentistry, and more.

What are Common Dogs and Cats Emergencies?

There are literally thousands of reasons dogs and cats can end up at emergency vet clinics. They can range from being hit by a car, lacerations, ingestion of toxins, as well as common problems such as itching, ear infections, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The most common reasons dogs present to emergency rooms are as follows:

The most common reasons cats present to emergency rooms are as follows:

What is the Best Way to See an Emergency Vet?

The best way to see an emergency vet will depend on you, your pets needs, and what services your family vet offers. In many cases, the least expensive way to have your pet treated is by your family veterinarian.

Some veterinary clinics do not provide emergency services and refer all their after-hour calls to a local emergency clinic, some see emergencies on an outpatient basis, and others provide 24/7 emergency care and have the staffing to support pets all night. Veterinary clinics that see emergencies on an outpatient basis may refer serious or life-threatening problems to a 24-hour facility that has an around-the-clock nursing staff to monitor and care for your dog or cat.

If your family vet is closed or your pet needs more intensive 24-hour care than your veterinarian can provide, the best option may be to go to an emergency vet clinic.

Do you wonder when you should go to or call the emergency vet? Go to: When Should You Call the Emergency Vet Hotline? This article identifies the most common emergency situations including a list of foods and toxins that should prompt a call.

How Do Emergency Vet Clinics Work?

An emergency vet clinic operates similarly to human emergency rooms and urgent care clinics. You don’t need an appointment and can go any hours they are open.

Emergency vet clinics practice triage. Triage is a method that identifies the most critical patients to ensure they receive attention and treatment the soonest in an effort to save the most lives. This means that a dog hit by a car that is having trouble breathing and bleeding will get priority over a dog that has been limping for two days. Learn more about the Day in the Life of an Emergency Veterinarian.

What Should You Expect from an Emergency Vet?

If your dog or cat is severely ill or injured, it is ideal to call ahead and let the veterinary staff know you are coming and provide any information you have about your pet’s condition. For example, if your dog is having trouble breathing, they will likely prepare by setting up an oxygen cage in advance. They may also organize an intravenous (IV) fluid set up that will allow them to quickly insert an IV and deliver life-saving fluid therapy and drug treatments.

The #2 Reason Cats Go To The Emergency Room – Do You Know What It Is?

The number one reason cat owners take their cats to the animal emergency room is for vomiting.

Can you guess what the second reason is?

It’s when a cat is not eating. The “not eating”, also known by the medical term “anorexia”, is often accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and/or lethargy. A cat who won’t eat is a common symptom and can be caused by many different diseases. For example, refusing to eat can be caused by a viral infection, various toxins, cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, liver problems and just about anything else.

Because not eating is so common, it is likely that it will affect your cat at one time or another. This article will cover tips on how to plan for, treat, and prevent this problem in your cat.

What to Do if Your Cat is Not Eating

  1. This is basic but important. Make sure you know where your local emergency room is or how your vet deals with an emergency. Keep this information (phone number, hours, address and directions) handy.
  2. Next, make sure you know your cat’s medical history and any medications he is on. If possible, have copies of any important information.
  3. Observe your cat for all abnormalities, food changes, toxins, and more. Make sure you carefully observe your cat when he is not eating. If you have to take your cat to your vet or to an after-hours or emergency clinic, they will want to know when the last time your cat ate, and if his lack of appetite is associated with any other symptom such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, collapse, trouble breathing…or anything else. Monitor the litter box and make sure he is urinating okay and observe the bowel movements for abnormalities such as diarrhea, evidence of blood, or worms. Check the trash to ensure that he has not been exposed to any toxins or other objects. Note if there has been any change in your cat’s diet or new treats. If your cat is on medication, has his medication changed recently? If your cat goes outdoors, keep him where you can keep an eye on him.
  4. Encourage your cat to eat. You can offer fresh food and fresh water. Some cats respond to “fresh food” from the bag or a new bag. Canned foods, especially fish flavors, pouched food, new and different dry foods, chicken baby food, and/or canned tuna will stimulate some cats to eat. If the problem is minor — a cat may eat well and quickly be back to normal. If the cat doesn’t’ eat or still acts lethargic, the problem may be more serious. If you are worried, the best recommendation is to have the cat evaluated by a veterinarian.
  5. Talk to your vet. If you call a veterinary clinic, you may hear some advice. If your cat is acting sick or you are concerned, the recommendation is always to bring the cat in for evaluation.
  6. There is no good way to “prevent” the lack of appetite unless you can prevent the underlying cause. To keep your cat safest, prevent exposure of your cat to trash, table scraps, and other foreign objects that they may be inclined to chew on. Buy only safe toys and ensure your cat does not ingest on any objects around that house which he could swallow (such as thread, yarn, ribbon, or strings) that he would be unable to digest causing a possible obstruction. Make any food changes gradually and over several days.

What Does it Cost to Take a Cat That is Not Eating to the Vet?

How much will it cost to see the vet if your cat is not eating? Because there are so many possible causes, most veterinarians will recommend some basic blood work and possibly a urinalysis to help determine the possible underlying cause. Additionally, radiographs (X-rays) may also be recommended.

The prices at different clinics around the country vary but without treatment, the emergency fee, blood work, and X-rays can range from $425.00 to about $800.00. Again, this does not include any treatment. Depending on what the tests reveal and the underlying cause for the not eating, various treatments may be recommended. Fluid therapy may be recommended for dehydration, and other treatments may be recommended to treat additional symptoms.

Unfortunately, cats can be expensive and this can be a substantial expense for some cat owners. If you don’t have pet insurance – how often can you afford to do this? How many times could you afford to cover cat emergencies out of pocket like this? How about even more costly emergencies? Have you looked into pet insurance yet? If you have not done so, take a minute and find out how pet insurance can save you money.

When Should You Call the Emergency Vet Hotline?

It can be very scary when your pet has a medical problem or emergency and your veterinarian is closed. Maybe it is a holiday, after-hours, or a weekend. Many pet owners want to know when they should call the emergency vet hotline. On one hand you don’t want to call too soon and bother them but on the other hand, you don’t want to wait too long. Here are tips to help you decide when to call.

First, what is an emergency? As an emergency veterinarian, I tell my clients an emergency is literally anything that causes you concern about your pet. You know your dog and cat best. You know when there is something wrong. If you are worried about something, then call. I’d rather pet owners’ call and ask. Maybe I can alleviate their concerns over the phone. Or maybe I can get the pet in sooner and more effectively treat the pet’s problem or even save their life.

The 3 Most Common Reasons Dog and Cat Owners Call the Emergency Vet Hotline

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of emergencies that can occur to dogs and cats. The links in the articles below can help you understand more about these common problems and what the problems may cost. The most common emergencies are as follows:

52 Reasons to Call the Emergency Vet Hotline

It is important to know when to call the emergency vet hotline. Below are reasons to call.

Toxins, Insecticides and Medications Ingestion

A big category of reasons to call is a pet that eats something they shouldn’t. Some items are extremely dangerous and toxic when ingested. Some items can be fatal. Some toxins can be effectively treated if your veterinarian knows about them immediately.

Call the emergency vet hotline if your pet ingests any of the following toxins or medications:

  • Rat Poison of any kind or baits such as Metaldehyde (common snail and slug bait). These can be extremely dangerous. If you catch it early, you vet may induce vomiting.
  • Ingestion of any kind of cleaning chemicals such as Bathroom Cleaners, Bleach, Lysol and Other Corrosives.
  • Ingestion of Antifreeze can cause kidney failure and be life-threatening.
  • Any over-the-counter medications such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil), Naproxen, or Acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • All prescription human medications including blood pressure medications, amphetamines (commonly used diet pills or mood elevators), estrogen medications, and more.
  • Nicotine. Nicotine can be toxic. It is found in a variety of sources, primarily cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, nicotine gum, and nicotine patches.
  • Exposure to Illicit drugs such as Cocaine, Ecstasy, Heroin, Marijuana and any other.
  • Ingestion of vitamins. Some vitamins can be toxic in high doses.
  • Ant traps are generally not toxic but the plastic can cause a foreign body problem. Call to be sure.
  • Licking or eating Potpourri. The liquid variety can be very caustic and be extremely dangerous.
  • Lead can be toxic.
  • Ingestion of coins can not only cause a foreign body and get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract but some coins contain zinc and can cause life-threatening zinc toxicity.
  • Exposure to insecticides that were not prescribed for your specific pet such as carbamate insecticides, organophosphate insecticides, and/or pyrethrin and permethrin insecticides. Amitraz is an insecticide used in some brands of dog tick collars and topical solutions that can also be toxic. Using dog products on cats can be highly toxic and deadly.
  • Overdoses of a pet’s regular medication can be dangerous such as ivermectin, carprofen (Rimadyl) or any other medication. Flavored medications can be especially attractive to dogs.

Just as it is important to know what is toxic, this article is also helpful to know what is nontoxic. Go to: Non-toxic Items Commonly Eaten by Dogs.

Dangerous Food Ingestion

Call the emergency vet hotline if your pet ingests any of the following foods:

  • Chocolate ingestion. Some types of chocolate are more toxic than others.
  • Corncobs can become lodged in the intestine and require surgery to remove.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Grape and Raisins.
  • Bread dough.
  • Food with mold.
  • Onions.
  • Bones can be dangerous to dogs.
  • Chewing gum or other baked goods that contain xylitol.
  • Peanut butter that contains xylitol.

Learn more about dangerous foods in this very good article.

Trauma and Accidents

The following problems can be life-threatening. Please call your veterinarian or veterinary emergency hotline if your pet suffers from any of the following:

  • Hit by a moving vehicle such
  • Bite wounds
  • Lacerations or punctures
  • Exposure to heat such as closed in car or sun

Things that Can’t be Digested

Ingestion of anything plastic, metal, rock or fabric density that cannot be digested can become lodged in the stomach or intestines.

Dangerous Symptoms

The following symptoms can be life-threatening and can quickly lead to death. Please call your veterinarian or veterinary emergency hotline if you see the following problems with your pet:

  1. Unproductive vomiting or retching
  2. Seizures
  3. Trouble breathing
  4. New onset coughing
  5. Lethargy
  6. Trouble walking
  7. Inability to use the back legs or walk
  8. Falling over to one side
  9. Pale mucous membranes
  10. Straining to urinate or nonproductive urinations
  11. Straining to defecate
  12. Blood in the urine
  13. Blood in the vomit
  14. Blood in the feces
  15. Open wounds such as lacerations
  16. Vomiting and diarrhea
  17. Disorientation or other changes in mental awareness
  18. Pain
  19. Lameness or trouble walking
  20. Fever
  21. Hives or swellings
  22. Decreased appetite or anorexia
  23. Excessive itching

What Number Do You Call for the Emergency Vet Hotline

The best number to call when you have a dog or cat emergency is your veterinarian. If your vet is available or open, they may see you immediately. If not, their answering machine generally guides you to the best place to go in your area.

Keeping Your Pets Safe During National Disasters

August was national disaster preparedness month and with a hurricane having just left Texas and one about to hit Florida we thought that now was the best time to discuss safety for your pets before, during, and after a storm. The strategies and tips listed below can be used for any type of storm, from tornadoes to hurricanes, so read on to make sure that you and all of your furry family members are prepared for a national disaster. It should be noted that a majority of the resources listed below are courtesy of our friends at and FEMA.

There are steps you can take before, during, and after a storm to help your pet through this scary period. But sadly, most pet owners aren’t ready. In a study published by the AKC, it was found that only 61% of pet owners have a pet evacuation plan. Only 61%? This is troubling as 97% of pet owners would take their pets with them in case of an evacuation. What does this mean? This data shows us that most people view their pets as family and would take them with in the case of an evacuation, but only a little over half of pet parents have thought through the logistic and realities of evacuating with a pet.

Evacuating with a pet or keeping a pet safe during a storm is not as easy task as you might think. While the study did show that 91% of owners say they have a copy of their pet’s vaccination records, 79% have their AKC registration papers, 93% have an extra leash, and 89% have extra dog food that’s not enough to keep your pet healthy in a disaster.

In the same study, 22% of those who did not have an evacuation plan for their pet said it is because they live in a geographic location that isn’t a likely target for terrorism or is not susceptible to natural disasters or other disasters, while over half (52%) said they

would like to have an evacuation plan but didn’t know how. Additionally, while a majority of owners had vaccination records and extra food and water on hand for their pets, three-quarters (76%) did not have the items assembled in a portable pet disaster kit in the case of an immediate evacuation.

So what does this all mean? It means that most Americans want to either take their pet with them or have a kit prepared in the case of a national disaster, but few either know how or have taken the time to assemble said kit. Well, in the name of national disaster preparedness month and for the love of pets we’ve assembled a general outline of everything you need to know about being prepared for a national disaster when you own a pet.

Make an Emergency Plan

Being organized before a national disaster hits is the most important step to national disaster preparedness month. Disaster can strike at a moment’s notice, make sure your entire family is ready by creating an emergency plan ahead of time. Start by asking yourself the following four questions:

  • How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What is my shelter plan?
  • What is my evacuation route?

When answering these questions, you’ll need to consider the individual needs of each member of your household, including your pets. Here are some prompts to consider:

  • Different ages of pets within your household: Consider the age of your pets and how that will affect them during a storm. For example, an older pet might require more assistance than a younger one due to limited mobility or sight.
  • Responsibilities for assisting others: As far as animals go, it will be your responsibility to assist them through a national disaster, whether that includes evacuating or sheltering in place.
  • Locations frequented: Is your cat usually sleeping in your bedroom while your dog lounges in the family room?
  • Dietary needs: Do any of your pets have restrictive dietary needs that will prevent you from finding food?
  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment: Do you have pets that require medication at regulated times or need equipment to manage their day to day lives? Some examples of equipment could include nebulizers or inhalers.
  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment: This refers to pets who need assistive devices such as prosthetics or braces to function.

Sign up for alerts and warnings in your area

There are three types of warning and alerts that you can receive when it comes to a national disaster.

Learn your evacuation zone and have an evacuation plan

Conducting a simple Google search or contacting your local emergency management officials will provide you with information on which evacuation zone you live in. We found a partially complete list of states who are more prone to evacuations here.

Prep For Travel For Your Pets

When traveling with your pets, you’ll need quite a few items. We recommend that create a disaster box for each of your pets. You can use a simple plastic tub to store all of these items year round, then if disaster comes, simply load the box up in your car, and you’ll be set. Or, if you need to evacuate quickly and will be doing so without your car or on government transportation this box will be an easy way for you to find what you need the most for your pet right quickly. Your portable pet disaster kit should include:

  • 1 Week Worth of Food
  • 1 Week Worth of Water
  • Important Medical Information/Records
  • A Toy
  • Poop Bags, Kitty Litter, or Waste Management Tools
  • Prescription Medication
  • An Extra Leash
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Pet First Aid Kit
  • Have a crate or other pet carrier ready to go
  • Have your pet microchipped

Amass Your Knowledge

It’s important to plan as much as possible when it comes time to evacuate. Learn the following about your surrounding area to be better prepared.

  • Create a list of pet-friendly hotels outside your evacuation zone
  • Learn the best methods for sheltering in place with your pets
  • Learn how to make a DIY litter box or waste management system for small pets
  • Develop a buddy system with family, friends, or neighbors about who will do what in the situation where you can not take care of your pet
  • Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment.
  • Talk to your vet about emergency planning
  • Be informed about which types of disasters/emergency are likely to take place in your region

Be Prepared With PetPlace

No one can predict when disaster will strike, so being prepared ahead of time can save you both time and heartache. With over 10,000 vet approved articles, we take pride in being one of the largest online sources of pet information. Keep your eyes peeled as we delve deeper in national disaster preparedness month and steps you can take to be fully prepared before, during, and after a national disaster.

Bite Wounds in Dogs

Bite Wounds that Occur to Dogs

Bite wounds are often the result when two animals engage in a fight or aggressive play. Animal fights most commonly occur when adults are put together for the first time. Other causes of fighting include dominance, hierarchy, fighting over food, owner attention or territory. Of all trauma-related veterinary visits, 10 to 15 percent are related to bite wounds.

Dog bites can result in significant trauma, like crushing, tearing, puncturing and lacerations of the skin and underlying tissues. Cat bites are typically puncture wounds with possible tearing or laceration. This is due to the small, sharp teeth of cats as compared to dogs.

Since the mouth is an environment filled with bacteria, all bite wounds are considered contaminated and the possibility of infection is high. In comparison, cat bites have a much greater chance of becoming infected than do dog bites.

Bite wounds, which may only appear as a small puncture wound in the skin, can actually be quite extensive. Once the tooth penetrates the skin, severe damage can occur to the underlying tissues without major skin damage.

All bite wounds should receive veterinary attention. Some wounds may appear deceptively minor but may have the potential to be life threatening, depending on the area of the body bitten.

What to Watch For

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Drainage
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Limping
  • Weakness
  • Collapse

Diagnosis of Canine Bite Wounds

Diagnosing a bite wound is usually a simple task, especially if the owner witnesses a fight. Wounds often have the characteristic appearance of a bite wound. The challenge comes in determining the extent of the underlying damage. Bite wounds are most commonly found on the neck, face and legs.

Bite wounds of the neck can be serious and may need further examination to determine the extent of the underlying damage. Excessive bleeding from tearing of a major blood vessel, nerve damage, airway trauma and trauma to the esophagus can occur.

Bite wounds of the face can cause severe damage to the eyes, ears or mouth. Scratches and puncture of the eye is possible. Extensive bleeding can occur if the ears or mouth are bitten.

Sedation or anesthesia may be required to examine the injured pet.


Treatment of Canine Bite Wounds

Treatment for bite wounds depends on the part of the body injured and the severity of the bite. Bite wounds are usually painful and your veterinarian will administer pain medications to relieve the pain. Wounds have the best chance of healing without complication if treated within 12 hours of the injury.

Sedation or anesthesia may be required to treat some bite wounds. The skin wound may have to be enlarged surgically to allow examination of the underlying tissues.

The primary goal of treatment is to reduce the risk of infection. Your veterinarian will gently remove dead tissue and clean the wound area thoroughly to remove hair and other debris. Povidone iodine or chlorhexidine are used to disinfect the wound. If extensive damage has occurred and fluid accumulation is expected, a temporary drain may be placed in the wound to assist healing. The edges of the wound are sutured closed.

Antibiotics are very important in treating infection, although most bite wounds become infected even if the patient is on antibiotics. This is due to the contaminated nature of the injury. The purpose of antibiotics is an attempt to keep the infection under control.

Bacterial culture and sensitivity may be done to determine the primary bacterial agent involved and help chose the best antibiotic. Frequently, this test is reserved for those bite wounds that do not respond to initial antibiotic treatment.

Since the vast majority of bite wounds are contaminated with Pasteurella multocida, common antibiotic choices include amoxicillinamoxicillin with clavulanic acid,cephalexin, cefadroxil or enrofloxacin.

Home Care for Bite Wounds in Dogs

Initially cleaning of the bite wounds with hydrogen peroxide, povidone iodine or chlorhexidine can help reduce infection. Extreme care must be used since bite wounds are painful and the pet may bite the person caring for him/her out of fear or pain. You may have to muzzle your pet.

Despite initial home care, all bite wounds should be examined and treated by a veterinarian. Extensive damage can occur even if it appears as though there is only a small, minor puncture wound on the skin.

Preventative Care

Preventing bite wounds is done by avoiding situations that may result in animal fights. Do not allow your pet to roam. Keep cats indoors. Keep your dog on a leash, especially when visiting parks and walking through the neighborhood.

Your Guide to Dog Emergencies

Emergencies happen every day. Being prepared can greatly increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. To help you learn what you can do when faced with a crisis, we have compiled a list of important and informative articles. This is only meant as a guide. If your pet is injured or ill, please seek consultation with your veterinarian.

How to Perform CPR – Hopefully you will not need these skills but learning how to perform basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation can save your dog’s life.

What to Do If Your Pet is Choking – Since your pet cannot talk to you, learning the signs of choking and what to do for your dog can greatly help.

What are the Normal Vital Signs – Learn what is normal for your dog. This way, you can be better able to determine if something is wrong.

How to Apply a Bandage – Learning how to apply a bandage to your dog takes some practice. Too loose or too tight can result in even more damage.

How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature – Taking your pet’s temperature is certainly not a favorite task but is extremely helpful in determining the extent of your pet’s illness.

How to Give Medication – Many injured or ill pets will need medication. Learn how to give medication quickly and easily to your dog.

Some common emergencies can be initially treated at home. On the following pages we have listed emergencies you may encounter.

Abrasion. An abrasion is an injury to the superficial layers of skin and is often called a scrape. If the scrape appears to be small and close to the skin surface, clip the hair and clean the injury with warm water, hydrogen peroxide or Betadine®.

Abscess. An abscess is a sac or lump that contains pus. Sometimes, the abscess will rupture and pus will begin to drain. If this happens and the rupture site is small, clean the area with peroxide or Betadine. Often the wound is left open to drain during the healing process. During healing, make sure your pet does not lick at the abscess. If necessary, use an Elizabethan collar.

If the abscess is not open your veterinarian may recommend application of warm compresses for about 5-10 minutes 3- 4 times per day to help increase the flow of blood to the area. The best thing to do for an abscess is to take your pet to your local veterinarian where the hair can be clipped and the area examined. Your veterinarian will probably lance the abscess and drain and flush out the pus. Your pet may need to be sedated to allow thorough cleaning and drainage of the area. Antibiotics are often prescribed. If your pet is acting lethargic, acts painful or is not eating – please see your veterinarian.

Allergic Reactions. Allergic reactions can vary from mild to severe and you may not realize your dog is developing an allergic reaction until it is far beyond home care. Allergic reactions can occur while your pet is on medication, after vaccination or even from a bee or wasp sting. Most often, allergic reactions result in facial swelling and hives, but some pets may develop more severe symptoms. Check for signs of shock such as pale gums, weakness or difficulty breathing. If your pet is having difficulty breathing – do the ABC’s of CPR. Remove any stinger if the reaction is from an insect bite. If your pet is swollen and itching, call your veterinarian for advice regarding administering diphenhydramine (Benadryl®).

Animal Attack or Bite Wounds. Gentle clipping of the hair and cleaning of the wound with hydrogen peroxide, povidone iodine or chlorhexidine can help reduce infection. Extreme care must be used since bite wounds are painful and the pet may bite the person caring for him/her out of fear or pain. You may have to muzzle your pet. Despite initial home care, all bite wounds should be examined and treated by a veterinarian. Extensive damage and/or illness can occur even if it appears as though there is only a small, minor puncture wound on the skin.

Bleeding. Pressure, pressure, pressure. If you notice that your pet is bleeding, depending on the location of the injury, gentle pressure with a clean towel is generally helpful to stop the flow of blood. Elevating the area can also help decrease blood flow. Wrap the area with a towel and tape and seek veterinary care immediately. If you notice even small amounts of bleeding when there has been no trauma or injury to provoke it, or bruising in the absence of injury, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Hypothermia (Low Body Temperature) in Cats

Hypothermia in Cats

Normal body temperature for cats is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia is a medical term used to describe a body temperature that is below normal. The most common cause of hypothermia is prolonged exposure to cold environmental temperatures. If left untreated, affected animals may develop signs of frostbite or may even die.

In addition to prolonged exposure to cold weather, impaired ability to regulate body temperature can also lead to hypothermia. This is most often associated with newborn kittens and older debilitated cats. Certain illnesses, such as hypothyroidism, and impaired behavioral responses can also be a factor in the body’s inability to maintain adequate temperature.

Signs of hypothermia range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the low body temperature.

What to Watch For

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Shivering
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Low heart and respiratory rates
  • Stupor
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fixed and dilated pupils
  • Coma

    Diagnosis of Hypothermia in Cats

    Recording a low body temperature with a thermometer will confirm the diagnosis of hypothermia. Additional diagnostics may be carried out to identify an underlying cause.

  • Baseline diagnostics to include a complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis are generally within normal limits.
  • A full coagulation (clotting) profile may reveal some abnormalities.
  • Thyroid function tests may confirm hypothyroidism.
  • An electrocardiogram may show an array of arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)

    Treatment of Hypothermia in Cats

    It is important to monitor the patient’s temperature closely during the treatment period.

  • Mild hypothermia can be treated with blankets and insulation.
  • Moderate hypothermia should be treated with external rewarming heat sources such as heating pads. Protective layers should always exist between the external heat source and the individual in order to prevent skin burns.
  • Severe hypothermia often needs to be treated aggressively. Core warming techniques include warm water enemas and stomach lavage (washing out), warm intravenous fluid therapy and warmed air.
  • Intravenous fluid and electrolyte support, in addition to oxygen supplementation, may be indicated in some cases.
  • Electrocardiograms and repeat blood pressure evaluations are important in monitoring these patients.


Home Care and Prevention

Sick or hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) newborns can become markedly hypothermic in a normal environment. It is important to keep these individuals warm, and possibly even monitor their rectal temperature.

If you are suspicious that your cat may be suffering from hypothermia, contact your veterinarian at once. In the interim, use blankets and insulation to start the rewarming process.

Preventing hypothermia is key. Do not leave your cat outside in freezing temperature for any length of time without access to shelter and warmth.


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As one of the first pet insurance providers in the U.S., PetPartners has been offering affordable, comprehensive pet health insurance to dogs and cats in all 50 states since 2002. Trusted as the exclusive pet insurance provider for the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association, PetPartners highly customizable options allow pet owners to create a plan that fits their individual needs and budget — so you’re not paying for added coverage you don’t necessarily need or want. Visit today to see if pet insurance is right for you and your family.”)

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Highrise Syndrome in Cats

Highrise Syndrome in Cats (Cats that Fall from Heights)

To a cat, a window may look like a path to freedom, but to many it leads to injury and death from upper story apartments. Each year, many cats fall from windows and balconies. The trauma sustained from a fall of over two stories (24 to 30 feet) is known as “high-rise syndrome.”

As you would guess, high-rise syndrome is more common in urban settings. Studies done on cats that have fallen from 2 to 32 stories show that the overall survival rate is a surprising 90 percent. Strangely, cats that fall from a height under 6 stories have more severe trauma than those that fall from over 6 stories. One theory is that cats reach terminal velocity at about 5 stories, and at this point they relax, allowing a more distributed force of impact and less severe injuries. When cats land before reaching top speed, they are rigid and flexed and prepared for the landing. This results in most of the force impacting the parts of the body that hit initially.

Injuries from Falls

Cats that fall from a height over 24 feet usually sustain significant injuries. The most common cause of death is due to severe chest trauma. Injuries most commonly seen are in order of occurrence:

  • Chest trauma – pneumothorax (air in the cavity outside the lung), lung bruising, and rib fractures
  • Facial/oral trauma – fractured jaw, broken teeth, fractured palate, and head trauma
  • Limb trauma – fractures of the bones in the arms and legs
  • Spinal fractures – broken back, broken neck, dislocated spine (although uncommon in cats)
  • Abdominal trauma – bleeding, damage to the liver or spleen or kidney, ruptured urinary bladder

Diagnosis of Injuries from Highrise Syndrome in Cats

The diagnosis of high-rise syndrome is not difficult. Typically, the cat is found outdoors, several stories below, and a nearby window or patio door is open. It is difficult, however, to detect all the injuries. Your veterinarian will need to do several tests to determine the types and severity of injuries.

  • Chest x-rays. Even if your cat seems to be breathing normally, chest x-rays should always be done to determine if there is a collapsed lung, pneumothorax, bruising of the lungs or rib fractures.
  • Examination of the face and mouth. Cats usually land on their chest and face, which can result in a fractured jaw, split hard palate and broken teeth. These need special attention.
  • Orthopedic examination. Your veterinarian will examine your cat to detect fractures of the legs or pelvis. The most common forelimb fracture occurs below the elbow, while a fractured thigh bone (femur) is most common in the rear legs. The force of impact often causes bone fragments to pierce through the skin creating an open fracture.
  • Additional x-rays. If your veterinarian suspects more injuries, it may be necessary to do x-rays of your cat’s abdomen, skull, or spine.
  • Blood tests. Initially, blood tests are not too helpful. However, during treatment they may help to determine the overall health of your cat and make sure that the organs have continued to function.

Treatment of Injuries from Highrise Syndrome in Cats

Treatment will depend on the types and extent of your cat’s injuries. If your pet shows signs of shock – collapse, weakness and pale gums – your veterinarian will start intravenous fluids. Other treatment will include:

  • Chest trauma. Oxygen support may be needed to help your cat breathe. Rib fractures are painful and require pain medication, and chest taps or a chest tube may be needed to remove excess air from the chest.
  • Facial trauma. A fractured jaw may need to be pinned or wired, although fractured hard palates usually heal on their own. Fractured teeth may need root canal, capping or removal, and head trauma is treated with fluids, diuretics and steroids.
  • Limb fractures. Your veterinarian may initially just clean the wound and place temporary dressings on limb fractures. Later, when life threatening injuries are under control, surgical repair can be done.
  • Abdominal trauma. Pressure wraps will control bleeding, and surgery may be necessary to repair internal organs.


Home Care

There is no home care for cats affected with high-rise syndrome. Your cat should be examined by your veterinarian, even if s/he appears normal.

Take care when picking up and carrying an injured cat. Some injuries associated with high-rise syndrome are extremely painful and your cat may bite and scratch as a reflex. Wrap the cat in a heavy towel or blanket and place in a carrier or box when transporting to your veterinarian.

Preventive Care

The best way to prevent high-rise syndrome is to make sure there are no open windows without heavy screens in your home. Make sure screens are intact and strong – cats insistent on going outside have been known to slash through thin screens. Unscreened balconies and upstairs porches should be off-limits to your cat.

Allergic Reaction to Insects in Cats

Allergic Reaction to Insects in Cats

Warm weather months often include run-ins with bees, wasps, and mosquitoes. Very often bites and stings produce an allergic reaction that adds to our misery. This is also true with our pets. Allergic reactions are just as common in our pets and can occur in cats of any age, breed, or sex. It generally takes several exposures before a reaction occurs, and reactions can vary from mild to severe.

  • Mild. Mild reactions include fever, sluggishness, and loss of appetite. Mild reactions are probably also related to an immune reaction from a vaccination. They usually resolve without treatment.
  • Moderate. Urticaria is a moderate vascular reaction of the skin marked by hives or wheals and rapid swelling and redness of the lips, around the eyes, and in the neck region. It is usually extremely itchy. Urticaria may progress to anaphylaxis and is considered life-threatening.
  • Severe. The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis, a sudden, severe allergic response that produces breathing difficulties, collapse and possible death. Symptoms usually occur within minutes following an insect bite or sting and proceed rapidly. Symptoms usually include sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea, staggering, rapid drop in blood pressure, swelling of the larynx leading to airway obstruction, seizures and cardiovascular collapse or death. This reaction is life-threatening for your cat.

    Both anaphylaxis and urticaria are triggered by antibodies that the immune system has made to some portion of the insect venom. The antibodies cause inflammatory cells like basophils and mast cells to release substances that cause the allergic reaction. Most cats allergic to insect stings will develop swollen face and hives; vomiting and diarrhea are most common.

Diagnosis of Allergic Reaction to Insects in Cats

There is no diagnostic test for anaphylaxis or urticaria, but your veterinarian can determine the presence of an allergic reaction by doing a quick physical examination. A history will reveal recent exposure to stinging insects.

Treatment of Allergic Reaction to Insects in Cats

Anaphylaxis is an extreme emergency and it occurs soon after being stung. Your veterinarian will begin immediate emergency life support. This will include establishing an open airway, administering oxygen, and intravenous fluids to increase blood pressure. He will probably administer drugs such as epinephrine and corticosteroids. Animals that survive the first few minutes usually return to normal health.

If your cat is known to be allergic to stinging insects, your veterinarian may recommend that you administer Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) in the early stages of the allergic reaction. Unfortunately, oral medication may not be sufficient, and you will have to take your cat in for examination and treatment.


Preventive Care

In general, there is no way to predict if your cat will have an allergic reaction. If he has had a reaction before, make sure your veterinarian knows about it and it is in your pet’s records. Since each reaction becomes more severe you should keep epinephrine available and know how to use it in case a reaction occurs. Ask your veterinarian about an “epi-pen” to keep on hand or take with you when you travel. This is a special syringe and needle filled with a single dose of epinephrine.


Is Pet Insurance Right for you?

The best pet insurance offers coverage that’s broad enough for whatever care your pet needs and with enough options to get the perfect coverage for you and your pet.

As one of the first pet insurance providers in the U.S., PetPartners has been offering affordable, comprehensive pet health insurance to dogs and cats in all 50 states since 2002. Trusted as the exclusive pet insurance provider for the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association, PetPartners highly customizable options allow pet owners to create a plan that fits their individual needs and budget — so you’re not paying for added coverage you don’t necessarily need or want. Visit today to see if pet insurance is right for you and your family.”)

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