Pet emergencies: when to take your pet to the vet

Emergencies are impossible to predict and sometimes difficult to read, especially when it comes to a pet. Most pet owners will wait several hours, or sometimes days, before taking a pet to the vet believing that whatever ails their dog or cat may resolve itself, or can be helped with a bit of TLC at home.

What are emergencies?

However there are instances when it is absolutely imperative to take your pet to the vet, and as soon as possible. They are in the case of:


A seizure, otherwise known as a fit, is often characterised by the animal falling over onto one side, becoming stiff legged or paddling their legs and is accompanied by salivation, urination or defaecation, vomiting and vocalisation. The pet is unconscious during this time and won’t respond or calm down if you hold it or talk to it. Often the seizure lasts anything from 30 seconds to 5 minutes although it can feel like hours. Seizures can be confused with fainting – which can look very similar except that the dog or cat lies still during the unconscious time if they have fainted.

They can sometimes have partial seizures that are more difficult to recognise. They may look dazed and unresponsive for a short time or start chasing their tails or biting at imaginary flies. If your pet displays these symptoms they should also be evaluated by a vet. For more on seizures,

Difficult breathing, choking

Straining or inability to urinate
Any trauma

There are myriad chemicals (rat and ant poison, weed killer), plants, foods, and medicines that can poison our pets. Eating rotting garbage, pet food that has gone mouldy, chocolate and certain plants are all dangerous to your pet and need to be attended to by your vet asap. An obvious sign of poisoning is vomiting.





Vomiting and diarrhoea

Vomiting episodes fairly common with dogs. However, if the vomiting continues (more than one isolated episode) or there is a noticeable decline in a dog’s overall health, it’s essential to take action.

These are the 5 most common conditions that contribute to vomiting. They can be dangerous and must be attended to by your vet.

  1. Worms
  2. Gastro- enteritis
  3. Garbage disease ( food poisoning)
  4. Foreign body in stomach or intestines
  5. Kidney or liver failure
Obstructed labour
High blood pressure during pregnancy
Beestings, allergic reactions
Heatstroke is characterised by excessive panting and signs of discomfort or sudden collapse and weakness. Any hot environment can cause heatstroke, but the most common cause is careless actions such as leaving a dog in a car on a hot day or forgetting to provide shade to an animal kept outdoors. Always be aware of the ambient temperature and take appropriate preventative measures.…stroke-risk-pets/
Snake bites
Near drownings
Disk prolapses
The key to any emergency is quick action. Delaying taking your pet to the vet could be fatal. The sooner he/she gets treatment, the better the outcome.

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