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Common Emergency Situations Every Pet Parent Must Be Aware Of…

Here are a few commonly encountered emergencies by pet parents. We never wish that you need this post but you if in case you encounter such a situation; you know what has to be done.

We suggest you to keep your vet’s contact number handy and never rely on unprofessional suggestions either from breeders, social media, neighbors etc. as it put your pet’s life at risk.

  1. Sudden behavior changes

Signs: the dog or cat can become very aggressive and start biting people or things or they can suddenly react by hiding under furniture or shivering or hiding at dark places

What you can do?

Don’t panic, the dog or cat can sense that and it may trigger the behavior even more. Stay calm and try to understand the reason behind the aggression or timidness.

Eg. Any sudden loud noise or an airplane or firecrackers or any loud vehicle horn. Try and calm your pet from a distance with calm and soothing voice. Offer him water to drink. Talk to your vet immediately for what can be done.

  • Choking:

Common causes:

a.      Ingestion: Dogs and cats are curious and explore their world by sniffing and chewing things. A dog can accidentally swallow whatever they are chewing on, and that can cause choking. Choking hazards include small cloth pieces, strings and pieces of door mats, bitten off pieces of chewed on shoes or slippers, chew toys, balls, rawhides, bones, sticks, etc. anything that is smaller than the open mouth diameter and windpipe. As a vet, I suggest pet parents to only let your dog chew on such things under supervision.

Signs: it can cause the pet to have difficulty in breathing, coughing, trying to vomit or they can become severely restless.



What you can do?

Do not try to remove the foreign object directly from the mouth of a panicked or restless dog or cat as it may lead to severe bite. First try and calm your pet and if easily possible try and visualize the foreign object in the mouth first. If the object can be removed easily try and remove it and then rush to your vet for detailed check up. If the condition is out of control rush to your vet asap.

b.      Collapsing Trachea: Generally seen in small breed and aged dogs, not much can be done if this thing happens. But as a precaution you can keep your pet’s nutrition and weight under check and talk to your vet for further guidelines.

c.       Infectious Disease: Kennel cough, also called infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious infectious respiratory disease in dogs that can mimic the signs of choking. It causes dogs to make dry coughing sound like they something is stuck in their throat. Sometimes affected dogs will spit up or vomit foam. Kennel cough is easily treatable and should be taken to a vet asap.

d.      Tight Collars: Tight collars, choke chains, chokers or halters should be used with caution for any pet. The properly fitted collar should allow a single finger to pass between the skin and the collar. If this choking happens, untie or release of reduce the tightness of the collar asap. Take your pet to a well ventilated place.


  • Trauma

Common causes:

Accident by vehicle, falling from a height, hit by someone, skidding while running or playing, accidental burning or hit by any falling object.

SIGNS:  Difficulty in walking, bleeding, respiratory distress, collapse, stressed behavior, severe pain, crying etc

What you can do?

See what exactly has happened so as to provide accurate history to the vet. Avoid too much handling. Carry the pet in a carrier to your vet immediately. Use a pressure bandage if there is bleeding.

  • Toxin ingestion

Common causes:

a.   Human medication

b. Human foods: like chilies, pepper, ginger, garlic various masala, Chocolate, Candies containing Xylitol, Raisin containing foods like Grapes etc

c. Insecticides like the ones commonly used for house plants, Sprays (Hit, Fleet), Rat poison (Rodenticides), Insect bait etc

d. Supplements/Vitamins like Vitamin D, Iron, Sugar free & other multivitamins

SIGNS: Heavy panting, salivation, drooling, vomiting or seizures, collapse. Bloody diarrhea. 

What you can do?

Vomition can be induced by confirming with your vet. Take your pet to a comfortable and well ventilates place and make arrangements to go to the vet asap.

  • Allergies

Common causes: Bee sting, insect bites, food or chemical allergic reaction

SIGNS: Face swelling, Severe itching, restlessness, hives all over the body  

What you can do?

Speak to your vet for medicine to be administered and take your pet to the vet immediately if possible

  • Vomiting/ Diarrhea

Common causes: Gastroenteritis, consumption of toxic material etc.

It is an emergency when caused due to toxin consumption. If it exceeds three times vomition and episodes of diarrhea in a small animal and more than six times vomition and diarrhea episodes in a bigger pet. The vomit or diarrhea may contain large quantity of frank blood or any other abnormal color.

What you can do?

Completely refrain from giving anything by oral route ie Nil By mouth (no food/water) for at least three to six hours after a vomit and contact your vet immediately.

  • Heat Stroke

Common causes: High environmental temperature along with dehydration can lead to severe rise in body temperature and hence heat stroke. Normal body temp for a dog/cat is 100.5 – 102.5 F.

SIGNS: High body temperature, heavy panting, salivation, drooling, vomiting or seizures, collapse.

What you can do?

Take the pet in a well ventilated area, switch on fan or something that the air flows from the body of the animal. Rest him in a comfortable position. Wipe with wet towels, talk to your vet.

  • Respiratory distress

Common causes: inhalation of some irritants like dust or pollens etc. sucking up water or food while drinking or eating hastily, any respiratory tract infection etc.

SIGNS: Blue/purple tongue, difficulty in breathing. Open mouth breathing. Extending neck to breath. 

What you can do?

Place sitting up, on chest. Provide oxygen supply.

  • Seizures

SIGNS:  Muscle spasms, foaming mouth, loss of consciousness, uncontrollable movement of limbs, twitching of the muscles, uncontrolled sounds.

What you can do?

Remove any inciting stimuli. Make a note of duration of seizures and signs observed. Needs immediate veterinary attention if the fits do not stop in a matter of seconds. 

  1. Bleeding

SIGNS: Blood from any orifice (mouth/nose/diarrhea/urine/vagina) or associated with trauma. 

What you can do?

Pressure bandage when possible. Clean turmeric powder application for smaller wounds. Ice can be held over the nose if there is a nose bleed. If there is a bleeding from vagina or anus check the site and try to use some diper or a cloth to stop the bleeding or atleast some pressure on the site safely.


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