With four fleet feet, a nose for mischief, and unquenchable curiosity, pets regularly find themselves in trouble. While some problems can’t be avoided, many of these cat-astrophes and doggy disasters can be prevented through proactive measures. Read our Cupertino Animal Hospital team’s guide to discover common emergencies that may befall your pet, and learn what you can do to keep your four-legged friend safe.

Common pet emergencies

As pets eagerly explore their environment, they can encounter all manner of disasters. Common emergencies your furry pal may experience include:

  • Choking — Pets, especially dogs, are known for their curious nature and tendency to chew objects. Choking can occur when they ingest small toys, bones, or household items such as socks or coins.
  • Poisoning — Pets can be exposed to a variety of toxic substances, including certain plants, human medications, chemicals, pesticides, or foods such as chocolate, grapes, and onions. Toxicity can lead to a range of signs depending on the substance ingested, including vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, organ failure, or death.
  • Heatstroke — During hot weather, pets can easily suffer from heatstroke. Inadequate shade or water, and vigorous exercise can quickly cause a pet to overheat. Signs may include excessive panting, weakness, drooling, rapid heartbeat, or collapse.
  • Trauma — Pets can experience traumatic injuries from accidents, fights with other animals, or falls from heights.
  • Bite wounds — Whether from other animals or insects, bite wounds can lead to infections, allergic reactions, and other complications if not treated promptly.
  • Respiratory distress — Pets can suffer from respiratory distress because of allergic reactions, asthma, choking, or respiratory infections. Signs may include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, blue gums and tongue, or gasping for air.
  • Seizures — Seizures can occur in pets because of underlying medical conditions such as epilepsy, brain tumors, toxin ingestion, or metabolic disorders. During a seizure, pets may exhibit involuntary movements, lose consciousness, drool, or urinate.
  • Allergic reactions — Pets can have allergic reactions to substances such as certain foods, medications, insect stings, or environmental allergens. Signs may include itching, swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) issues — Pets are prone to GI emergencies such as gastric dilatation volvulus, intestinal blockages, gastritis, or pancreatitis. Signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, lethargy, or appetite loss.
  • Eye injuries — Pets can sustain eye injuries from trauma, foreign objects, scratches, infections, or underlying eye conditions. Signs may include redness, swelling, discharge, squinting, pawing at the eye, or vision changes.
  • Urinary obstructions — Male cats are prone to urinary obstructions, which occur when urinary stones, crystals, or mucus block the urethra. Signs may include straining to urinate, frequent urination attempts, blood in the urine, vocalizing in pain, or inability to urinate.

How to prevent pet emergencies

Although you may think your pet can’t avoid an accident, many options are available to help you keep your furry pal safe and prevent an emergency. Follow these pet safety tips:

  • Supervise your pet — Keep a close eye on your pet, especially when they are playing with toys, running in the yard, or exploring new environments. Ensure your pet does not chew and swallow toys or treats that can become lodged in their digestive tract. In addition, always keep an eye on your pet to help them remain safe and secure in their surroundings.
  • Pet-proof your home — Remove or secure household items, such as medications, cleaning supplies, electrical cords, and poisonous plants and foods, that are toxic or harmful to pets. Prevent your pet from accessing your kitchen and pantry, and ensure they cannot get into drawers or cabinets that contain potential hazards.
  • Create a pet first aid kitStock a first aid kit with supplies you can use to stabilize your pet in an emergency. Include items such as gauze, bandages, fresh hydrogen peroxide, diphenhydramine, sterile saline, syringes, and a pet-specific thermometer, in addition to any medications that your pet currently takes.
  • Keep emergency contact information close at hand — Keep a list of local emergency veterinary hospitals, animal poison control hotline numbers, and your pet’s medical records easily accessible in case of emergencies.
  • Train your pet — Teach your pet basic cues, such as come, stay, and drop it, which can help prevent accidents and keep them safe in emergency situations.
  • Update your pet’s identification (ID) — Ensure your pet wears a collar with an ID tag containing your current contact information and consider microchipping your furry pal to provide them with a permanent ID in case they become lost.
  • Schedule routine wellness visits — Schedule regular exams with Dr. Kureshi to monitor your pet’s health and catch any potential issues early on through routine screening tests. Lifestyle-appropriate vaccinations and parasite prevention also protect your furry pal against infectious and vector-borne diseases.

By being proactive and taking preventive measures, pet owners can significantly reduce their furry friends’ emergency risk and keep their pets happy and healthy for years to come. However, pets can still find themselves in trouble, so if your four-legged friend needs emergency care, contact our Cupertino Animal Hospital team for help.