Vet Blog

Emergency Vet: Should I Go or Should I Wait?

November 10, 2021

As a pet owner, it can be difficult to know when your dog or cat is having a true medical emergency, and whether you should take your pet to the emergency vet in La Porte, Texas or not.

However, as a rule, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you're concerned, even if it's the middle of the night, contact your nearest emergency veterinarian. You can describe your pet's signs and symptoms, and the veterinary staff will be able to offer you recommendations and whether or not you should bring your pet in.

Knowing When to Go to the Emergency Vet or Wait

There are several signs that you can look for that indicate that your pet is having a medical emergency, and without treatment, these situations can become very serious and potentially fatal. Good advice for owners is when in doubt, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian in La Porte, TX.

Signs Your Pet Needs to See an Emergency Vet in La Porte, TX

Difficulty Breathing

If your pet has noisy breathing, if you notice abdominal breathing, or if your pet is stretching his head and neck out trying to get a breath, or if your cat is open-mouth breathing, get to an emergency vet as soon as possible. These signs may indicate respiratory distress and can lead to impending cardiac arrest.

Your Pet Has Collapsed

If your pet experiences collapse, or where he can't get up and is very weak, this can indicate an emergency.

Constantly Panting

If your dog or cat is panting constantly, this may also indicate a respiratory emergency.

Distended or Bloated Abdomen

If your pet, especially dogs, appears to have a distended abdomen, call the emergency vet right away. This could indicate a GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus) or fluid in the abdomen.

Your Pet is Trying to Vomit

If your dog is trying to vomit and appears to have a distended abdomen, this could also indicate a GDV, where the stomach flips over on itself.

Constantly Vomiting

This may indicate ingestion of a foreign body or a toxin.

Your Pet is Lethargic

If your pet is acting very tired and lethargic, this is not normal and may warrant a visit to the emergency veterinarian in La Porte, TX.

High Heart Rate

The normal heart rate for small dogs is 100-140 beats per minute and for larger dogs 60-100 beats per minute. For cats, the normal heart rate ranges between 140-220 beats per minute. If your pet is experiencing a high rate (> 160 BPM), this indicates an emergency, and may a result of cardiac issues. If you want to take your pet's heart rate, place your index and middle finger along the femoral vein on the inside of your pet's lower leg/thigh, just below the groin area. Count the beats for 15 seconds and then multiply by four.

High Respiratory Rate

If your pet's respiratory rate is > 60 breaths per minute at home while resting, this may indicate a respiratory emergency.

Constantly Coughing

If your pet is coughing, and can't rest because of it, call the emergency vet. Also, if your pet is coughing up pink, foamy liquid or blood, call the emergency vet right away.

Your Pet is in Pain

If your pet is painful, and cries out in pain when moving, or cannot get comfortable, this warrants an emergency vet visit in La Porte, TX.

Restlessness and Can't Get Comfortable

This may indicate a pain response or an underlying medical condition.

Pale or Abnormal Gum Color

Pale gums, purple gums, or bright red gums are abnormal.

Jaundiced Eyes or Gums

Jaundice is a condition where excess bilirubin, formed when hemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen) is broken down. If your pet has jaundice, this may be an indication of hepatitis, gallstones, and tumors.

Your Pet Has a Wound, is Bleeding, or Has Obvious Broken Bones

These may be a result of trauma and injury and should be treated as soon as possible.

Having Seizures

If your pet is experiencing seizures (more than 2-3 minutes or having more than 2-3 seizures in 24 hours), this is indeed a medical emergency.

Unable to Move or Walk or is Dragging the Back Legs

These symptoms constitute and medical emergency. If you have a cat and it cannot move its back legs call the emergency vet immediately. This may signal a saddle thrombus, which is a blood clot that lodges at the base of the aorta. If not treated, this condition can be fatal.

Bite Wounds

If your pet has suffered bite wounds or was involved in a fight with another animal, he will need immediate medical attention, and possibly surgery.

Has Ingested a Toxin or Poison

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poison or a toxin, call the veterinary ER in La Porte, TX immediately. The ingestion of poisons and toxins can be potentially fatal if not treated as soon as possible.

Straining to Defecate

This may indicate a blockage and may require immediate attention.

Straining to Urinate

If your pet is trying to urinate, especially if you have a make cat, call the emergency vet immediately. Male cats can present with a condition called a "blocked tom," where the urethra is blocked with crystals, making it difficult for your cat to urinate. This is an emergency and can be fatal without immediate treatment. If your dog is unable to urinate, this also constitutes an emergency and requires immediate attention to prevent bladder rupture.

Abnormal Rectal or Vaginal Discharge

If you notice an abnormal discharge that is red, pink, or odiferous, this may indicate an underlying condition or infection.

Running a Fever

If your pet feels warmer than usual, or if his temperature is over 103, contact the emergency vet immediately.

Your Pet is Cold

If your pet's temperature is < 99, this is abnormal, and you should contact the emergency vet as soon as possible.

Call Your Emergency Vet in La Porte, TX

You know your pet the best, and if anything at all worries you, it's best to contact your local emergency veterinarian in La Porte, TX. Emergency veterinary staff can help guide you and offer "phone triage" to get a better idea of your pet's signs and symptoms. If you think that your pet has been poisoned, or has ingested a toxin, you can always call the non-profit ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 and they can provide life-saving advice and let you know if you should take your pet to the ER or not. (There is a fee for the call, but this information can be of great help to the ER veterinarian in La Porte, TX).