How to Recognize a Pet Emergency

Your pet might not be able to tell you exactly what the problem is, but his or her behavior can alert you to a serious problem. If you find your pet in any of these emergency situations, call your primary care veterinarian or Newtown Veterinary Specialists (NVS) immediately at 203-270-8387. Any delay could result in more serious illness or injury, or even death.

Pet Health Emergencies

  • Breathing difficulty or choking
  • Collapse
  • Pale or white gums
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to rise or use any limb
  • Fractures, burns, or bites
  • Wounds or cuts
  • Car accidents
  • Injury to the eye
  • Medication or poison ingestion
  • Swollen, distended or firm abdomen
  • Pregnancy or labor complications
  • Excessive vomiting or diarrhea (or if either contain fresh blood)
  • Heat stroke (hyperthermia)
  • Hypothermia
  • Inability to urinate
  • Electrocution

How to prevent and prepare for emergencies

  • Program NVS (203-270-8387) into your phone
  • Keep a fully stocked pet first aid kit handy
  • Make sure your home and outdoor areas are as safe as possible for your pet
  • Keep medicines, cosmetics, household cleaners, and chemicals locked away
  • Put handbags away on a high closet shelf – they can contain all kinds of hazards for your pet, including chewing gum, hand sanitizer, and medications
  • Keep your pet on a leash and under your control at all times
  • Never leave your pet alone in the car
  • Regularly inspect pet toys for signs of wear
  • Have a copy of your pet’s medical history available

Examples of Serious Pet Emergencies for Dog and Cats

  • Open wounds and bone fractures
    Open wounds can result from fights with other animals or accidents. If your pet has multiple cuts or scratches, or if the cuts are bleeding heavily, become infected, or are near the eye, seek emergency treatment.
    Signs of fracture include limping, deformed-looking limbs, and/or bones sticking out from your pet’s skin.
  • Heat Stroke
    Confinement to any space (like a parked vehicle) with little or no ventilation or water can lead to heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke include panting, foaming at the mouth, rapid heart rate, vomiting, collapse, and lethargy. Bathe or hose down the pet with cool water and seek emergency treatment.
  • Poisoning
    Everything from household cleaners to medications can potentially poison your pet. If your dog or cat consumes a dangerous chemical, he or she may exhibit a variety of signs ranging from abnormal behavior, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, excessive panting, collapse, or mental depression. Take your pet and the substance and seek emergency treatment
  • Choking and swallowing foreign objects
    Dogs will put almost anything in their mouths, while cats tend to be attracted to string or tinsel. If your pet can cough and/or gag, he or she may be able to clear the object. If your pet cannot cough or gag, or is unconscious call the NVS immediately.
    If your pet has swallowed a foreign object, it can lead to complications or even death. Symptoms to watch for include refusing to eat, vomiting, and fever. Seek emergency treatment immediately.
  • Twisted stomachs
    Sudden or acute torsion (twisting) of the stomach can result in a life threatening distension of the stomach. This torsion results in the inability of your pet to vomit and restricts blood flow/returning to the heart. Gastric torsion is rare in cats but common in dogs, especially large, deep-chested dogs. Symptoms include a balloon-like stomach, restlessness/pacing, excessive drooling, and non-productive retching. Seek treatment immediately.