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What to do if you have a pet-related emergency

Feature photo: What to do if you have a pet-related emergency

As a responsible pet owner or pet sitter, it’s vital to understand when a pet may need medical attention. Having pets is a responsibility sometimes requiring quick, effective action.

Your pets can’t speak directly so it can be challenging to determine if an emergency is present. If your dog, cat or other pet is suffering from an emergency, you should seek care as soon as possible.

Here are some helpful steps to walk you through what to do in the event of a pet-related emergency.

Signs of a Pet Emergency

The first thing is to recognize that there is an emergency with your pet. Emergencies can range from a sudden illness or disease to an allergic reaction or an unexpected event resulting in injury.

There are some tell-tale signs and symptoms that indicate it’s time to call your veterinarian, which include the following:

  • Broken bones 
  • Significant cuts or lacerations that are heavily bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 
  • Trouble breathing or heavy panting

Sometimes, you may know that your pet has done something that constitutes an emergency, such as ingesting something toxic or dangerous. If you know what’s been taken you should bring a sample of the substance to the vet with your pet as it can be essential in providing the vet with the knowledge for the proper course of treatment.

Steps to Take in the Event of a Pet Emergency

What you do when an emergency arises will ensure your pet stays safe and secure. Here are some important steps you can take if an emergency occurs.

1. Be Calm 

You must stay calm for your pet's sake as many animals can sense your feelings and reactions. If you act afraid, it’s more likely that your pet will act that way as well. If you’re panicking or acting irrational, you might also not be paying attention to what needs to happen to help your pet. If your pet is in shock or has suffered a trauma, it's important to keep them warm and comfortable. Wrap them in a blanket or towel and keep them quiet.

2. Assess at Home

If you can, examine your pet to see the issue that needs attention. You'll likely be able to see if it’s a broken bone or a deep cut. However, if your pet is sick and shows signs of illness but you can’t tell why, you should write down behaviors and symptoms to tell the vet everything you witness.

Follow first aid protocols: If your pet is bleeding, choking, or having a seizure, you may need to administer first aid. You can find basic first aid protocols online or take a pet first aid class however, it’s always best to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

If there’s something you can do at home before going to see a veterinarian, you must do it.

For example, if there’s a deep cut and bleeding, you must apply pressure to stop the bleeding as much as possible. 

3. Call Your Veterinarian

House sitter in long sleeved shirt and jeans holding a dog while looking at their phone

Call the vet (or poison control center or emergency services) as soon as possible, hopefully within a few minutes of realizing there is a true emergency with your pet. If you’re not sure that it’s an emergency, it’s better to be safe and call regardless to determine if the matter is urgent and warrants bringing in your pet for attention.

If it is after hours or on the weekend, you’ll need to locate an emergency on-call vet. Research and discover what places in your area have an after-hours line to call or emergency services that are open quickly. 

4. Ask for Help

You may need help to move your pet carefully or address an injury or wound. Have a family member, a nearby friend or neighbor assist you by helping the pet if necessary. 

Don’t forget to take any medicine the pet is currently on with you or a sample or piece of whatever your pet ingested if it’s an emergency. If the pet has a known medical condition, the homeowner should already have provided the Pet sitters with all of the relevant information about the pet.

5. Calm the Pet & Carefully Take Them to the Vet

Taking your pet safely and carefully to the car and as you drive is essential. Vet experts at Bond Vet emphasize speaking calmly to your pet, as it may be stressed due to the injury or illness.

By speaking calmly to your pet, you can help to reduce their anxiety and fear, which can make it easier to handle them and provide the necessary care. 

You can also reassure them that they are not alone and that you are there to help them. This can go a long way in helping your pet feel more secure during a pet-related emergency, which can improve their chances of a successful recovery.

Be sure to load your pet carefully into a crate or secure it within the vehicle before driving. You can lay a blanket or wrap it around your pet for extra comfort. Ensure you drive safely and don’t race to the vet’s office, even if you know time is vital. Getting yourself into an accident will undoubtedly make matters worse. If possible, take your family member or friend with you to keep the pet calm on the ride.

Grey parrot being held by vet with stethoscope listening to their chest

Contact the owner

If you’re a house sitter for a pet and encounter an emergency, after going through the actions above, contact the pet owner to let them know what has occurred. Reassure the owner that you have taken every appropriate measure to care for their pet and that the pet is in safe hands. Take notes of the event surrounding the emergency as soon as you are able, to give the owners an accurate timeline of what occurred and how you handled the emergency.

Getting through those first important minutes of your pet’s emergency ensures you can accurately determine what action needs to be taken. By working to stay calm and assess the problem logically, you will make your pet more comfortable and get it the help it needs.

By Nicole McCray

Thank you so much for the opportunity to Pay it Forward again this year to lovely families and their delightful pets. I have made lifelong friends on my perfect journey and have Inspired many owners and potential sitters to join your amazing site. Thank you again. Francien

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