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Common Pet Emergencies

Here are a few common medical emergencies we see in veterinary medicine. If you are concerned your pet is having an emergency, don’t hesitate to call.


Bloat is a condition seen most often in large, deep-chested dogs. In this condition the dog’s stomach “flips” on itself, preventing anything from moving in or out of the stomach, and cutting off blood supply to the tissues. Dogs with this condition often appear restless, will be attempting to vomit with little to no success, and may or may not have a bloated appearance to their abdomen. This condition is extremely dangerous and must be dealt with by a veterinarian immediately.

Toxin Ingestion

A variety of common household items can actually be toxic to our pets if ingested. If your animal has ingested something that you aren’t sure is a toxin, calling animal poison control may be a good next step. Animal Poison Control staffs veterinary toxicologists 24 hours a day and maintains a database of animal toxins/the latest recommended treatments. There is a charge to call the line, but they will be able to recommend if a pet needs to come into the hospital or not, and can advise on further treatments.

Animal Poison Control: 1-888-426-4436

Common Toxins

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raisins/Grapes
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Xylitol (Artificial sweetener found in some products)
  • Alcohol
  • Antifreeze
  • Rat/Mouse Poisons
  • Household Plants
  • Human Medications or Supplements

If you are bringing your pet into our hospital because of toxin ingestion please bring the packaging if available, and a poison control case number if you have one.

Difficulty Breathing

Signs your pet is having difficulty breathing:

  • Open mouth breathing (in cats)
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased breathing effort

If your pet is having any difficulty breathing, or you suspect your animal may be having difficulty breathing, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Difficulty Urinating/Inability to Urinate

An animal having trouble passing urine, or being completely unable to pass urine can become a life-threatening emergency in just a few hours if left untreated. Urinary blockage is an issue especially common in male cats because of their anatomy, but can occur in any pet. If you are concerned that your animal is having difficulty passing or is unable to pass urine at all, seek veterinary attention immediately.


Repeated or prolonged seizures can lead to organ damage and death if left untreated. They also may be a symptom of another underlying issue. If your pet has just had its first seizure, has had multiple seizures within a 24-hour period, or is seizuring for more than a couple of minutes, seek veterinary attention immediately.

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