We love our pets and can’t stand to think about them being sick or injured. Unfortunately, accidents or illnesses can afflict even the most beloved and well-cared for pet. The most loving thing you can do for your pet is to be prepared just in case something does happen. Knowing when it’s appropriate to call your vet can help reduce your own stress when a crisis hits.
An important thing to remember is that you know your pet. You live with her, care for her, and spend lots of time loving her. That kind of intimate familiarity means that you’ll probably be the first to know if there’s something wrong. Your pet can’t tell you directly that she’s not feeling well or that she’s in pain. She depends upon you to interpret the often subtle signs of her discomfort. Whether you need to call your vet is up to you to decide. If she’s not acting normally, or something about her seems a little ‘off’, trust your instincts!
Call your vet right away if you think something is wrong. It’s always better to have her checked out than wait and possibly suffer a tragic loss. As Dr. Eric Barchas notes: “If your dog has a mild tummy ache and you take him to the vet, no harm will come to him. But if he’s suffering from bloat and you ignore it, he may be dead by the morning.” If you call your vet during office hours, the staff can help triage your pet over the phone and decide whether she needs to come in right away. According to Dr. Lori Hehn, “Triage is essentially determining which patient is the most critical and caring for them first.” If your pet’s condition is really serious, she’ll receive treatment right away.
Go ahead and call your vet even if it’s after office hours. Your call won’t be the first to wake a vet. That’s why most veterinarians take turns being on call to answer those inevitable late night or holiday weekend emergencies. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) even requires all of their accredited clinics to provide 24-hour care, either in their own clinic or by referring patients to an emergency pet hospital nearby. A skilled veterinarian can often triage your pet over the phone and decide whether she needs care right away or if she can wait to be seen until the next day.
Below are situations that the AAHA considers ‘can’t wait’ emergencies that require immediate attention. These are situations where you definitely should call your vet. They recommend that you “…try to get directly in touch with a veterinary professional. Don’t leave a voicemail or use the Internet or email.”
Prepare for situations like those above by keeping your veterinarian’s phone number with your other emergency contact numbers (doctor, fire department, police, etc.) You may want to add an emergency pet hospital’s name, phone number, address, and directions to that list, also. Ask your vet for a recommendation. In case of a pet emergency, you don’t want to struggle to remember your vet’s phone number or try to find your way to an unknown hospital. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to make a couple of dry runs to the hospital just in case of a real emergency. You’ll save time if the route is already familiar.
Another important number to add to that list is that of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). The APCC even has a free mobile app that can help you identify potential hazards before your pet ‘samples’ them. If your pet has already done a little tasting, the app can help guide you through the crucial process of helping her. After aiding more than 2.5 million poisoned pets, they know just what you’ll need to do to help yours.
The APCC app features a searchable database of potential toxins. These include plants, foods, medicines, household products, and seasonal hazards. You can search by image, common name, scientific name, and other criteria and then sort by type of pet. You can even use the chocolate toxicity calculator to determine how much danger your dog is in from that chocolate bar she stole off the coffee table!
Ideally, the person calling is able to answer questions about the pet’s age, breed, weight, activity level, allergies, medications, and vaccinations. This information is particularly important if your regular vet referred you to an emergency pet hospital.
Learn how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver, artificial respiration, and CPR on your pet. In this video from Pet MD, Dr. Katy Nelson demonstrates how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on both small and large dogs.
Make a pet first-aid kit and keep it handy. It can help with small mishaps that don’t require vet care, as well as helping to stop bleeding and stabilize your pet in case of an emergency.
Keep your pet’s records organized and in a safe place where they’re easy to find. If they’re in a portable file that’s easy to grab, you can take them with you to the vet in case of an emergency.
Download the American Red Cross pet first-aid mobile app for veterinarian advice and help finding a vet when you’re on the go.
Know how to restrain and transport an injured or sick pet before you need to do it. Even the calmest, gentlest, most loving pet can lash out in pain and fear. She can hurt you or even injure herself worse unless she’s safely and gently restrained.
Arrange transportation to the pet hospital beforehand if you think you might need it. Having someone along who can drive while you keep your pet calm and quiet is helpful even if you’re going to the pet clinic.
Like all AAHA accredited-hospitals, we provide 24/7 emergency assistance for your pet. When you contact us about an emergency after hours, the veterinarian on duty will determine the best option for your pet and will either refer you to an emergency pet hospital or arrange an appointment for the next day. We understand how important your pet is to you, and we want to be there for you and your pet whenever you need us.
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Great experience with Dr. Jacob and his assistants! The whole team was very professional and kind. Dr. Jacob was thorough and knowledgeable and made going to the vet a comfortable experience for me and my boy. My anxious pup left there happy with a belly full of treats. I would definitely recommend Tipp City Vet Hospital!
Amazing Boarding facilities! Immaculately clean and odor free! They provided us with a tour prior to our first boarding so we could make an informed decision about who to trust with the care of our little guy. Everyone has had that one experience where they can't enjoy their vacation because they are worried if their pet is being taken care of properly! We now can actually enjoy our time away knowing that our little pup is very well taken care of! And they have a text line you can use for updates! They make you feel like your pet is just as important to them as they are. to you. Give them a try....you won't be sorry! If Barkley could talk, he would say... I'm a happy camper! Thank you mom and dad for bringing me here!