A pet is a member of our family. You come home from a long day of work, and you find your loved one acting different. Sometimes there are clues to illness and sometimes the situation is abrupt and immediate. What do you do?

Animals, including pets, are driven by an instinct to hide their ailments. This instinct helps ward off luring predators. This means your pets instincts are often being overridden if they are showing signs of being unwell. No one knows your pet better than you do. Generally speaking, we will be concerned if you are concerned because somethings has caused your pet to sway from his or her natural characteristics.

Some situations are more critical than others. We are happy to help you navigate your concerns, but there are some situations which always warrant a visit to the emergency hospital:


Any situation when your pet is actively bleeding, has exposed tissue, and/or is experiencing pain.

Examples include animal fights, being struck by a car, and falling from heights.


We have all the potential for our pets to ingest something toxic. This happens all the time. It is important to tell your veterinarian even if the potential exposure is small. We will always advise you to contact ASPCA Pet Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 in a toxicity case. Also, very few toxicities can be tested in-house. It is always important to be honest about potential or actual toxin exposures.

Examples include chocolate, medications, slug bait, rat bait, compost, marijuana, anti-freeze, lilies, and illicit substances.

Difficulty Breathing

Respiratory cases are almost always critical. They require immediate medical attention. Inform your veterinarian if your pet has a diagnosed cardiac or respiratory condition.

Difficulty Urinating in Male Cats

Your cat will need to be examined as soon as possible if he is exhibiting signs of a urinary problem. Male cat are particularly susceptible to life threatening urinary conditions.

Fast Swelling of Body (any part)

Any pet experiencing rapid swelling on any part of the body should be seen immediately. Some situations are rapidly treatable. Some conditions are severe and life threatening.

Excessive Salivation, Difficulty Swallowing, and/or Retching

These symptoms are always emergent and may relate to one of the previously discussed situations. Retching is when your pet is trying to vomit (both sounds and abdominal movements) with producing anything. Retching is a sign of a very critical situation, particularly in large dogs.


You should always contact a veterinarian when your pet has a seizure. Seizures in cats and new seizures in dogs are always considered an emergency. Seizures can be caused by a number of things ranging from toxicities to abnormal organ chemistries to congenital problems.
Some dogs are known epileptics, but seizures are always abnormal. You may have established a plan for your epileptic dog with your family veterinarian. Contact your family veterinarian if you epileptic dog has a new seizure, and we are always here to help you afterhours.

Fainting and/or Collapsing

These symptoms are often caused by more than meets the eye. Conditions causing fainting or collapse are usually very serious. These conditions almost always require immediate intervention.

Heat Stroke

Pets left in areas where they cannot get away from excessive heat leads to some very serious problems. Any pet left in a hot car or obese/senior pets left in the sun without water can experience heat stroke. The treatment ranges in aggressive approach depending on how long your pet is exposed to these conditions.

This is not an exhaustive list of thing requiring urgent care. The most important thing to remember is you have the right to be concerned about your pet under any circumstance. No one knows your furry loved one like you do. A phone call and a trip to the veterinarian can save your pet’s life. #AECprevents