Share this Story

Top 10 emergencies for cats and dogs

Vladimir is a regular contributor to PetMD, the largest global source of pet health information. PetMD's content is created by veterinary professionals and covers 9 different species.

Pet emergency

Be prepared in a crisis by knowing the top 10 household pet emergencies and how to handle them.

Pet emergency


Dogs and cats are like children. They like to investigate everything and get into situations and things they shouldn't. Pet-proofing your home is the first step, but having a plan of action and knowing what symptoms to look for during an emergency situation may mean the difference in saving you're your pet's life. PetMD shares the top 10 dog and cat emergencies.


Soft tissue trauma

Limping is a universal sign of soft tissue trauma, which can be caused by minor injuries, such as sprains to the joints, or strains in the muscles. They can come from accidents, jumping or falling mishaps, or even from rough and energetic play. Symptoms include crying out at the time of the injury, panting and swelling.

What to do: A checkup is important to make sure the symptoms aren't revealing something more serious, such as arthritis, a torn ligament or a fracture. The most common form of treatment is rest and restricted movement.

Single lacerations

Often caused by rough play, a fight with another animal, or just a simple accident, single lacerations generally don't require treatment. However, it's a good idea to always keep an eye on your pet, and any wound it has, in order to quickly identify a developing infection. Signs to look out for include lethargy, pus, swelling and weeping (oozing of blood and mucus) of the wound.

What to do: If a cut is near the eye or ear -- or if the cut is deep, wide, or infected -- take your pet immediately for treatment. This generally includes an antibiotic regimen, wound cleansing and stitches.

Household chemical ingestion

Your pet can eat all kinds of things from common cleaners to detergent to mothballs. As in any case of poisoning, it is better to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Nevertheless, if your pet should consume a dangerous chemical, be sure to take your pet and a sample of the substance with you to the vet immediately.

What to do: Symptoms differ according to the poisonous substance ingested, but can include vomiting, shaking, and diarrhea. Treatment will also depend on the type of poison, but often includes the use of activated charcoal, vomit inducers and fluids.

Snail Bait Ingestion

Ingestion of snail bait, which may appear like food pellets to an unsuspecting animal, is considered more of a dog emergency, as canines are known to eat nearly anything, unlike their more finicky feline counterparts. However, cats may also become poisoned if they eat a contaminated rodent or snail.

What to do: Take your pet to the vet if it displays symptoms such as uncontrollable shaking, overheating, vomiting and diarrhea, especially if you actually witnessed it eating the poison. Once at the emergency hospital, your vet will induce vomiting, cool your pet down, and flush its digestive system -- either by giving it activated charcoal or enemas. Some dogs and cats may need to be sedated before the procedures can begin, or if they are suffering from seizures.

Multiple lacerations

Cats and dogs will be, well, cats and dogs. This can lead to fighting in the streets, scraps around the house or in the park, and collisions with cars, all of which are common causes of multiple lacerations.

What to do: Lacerations are nothing more than bleeding cuts or scratches, so if your animal has multiple lacerations, or if they are bleeding profusely, infected, or near the eye or other vital organs, take it to a veterinarian for immediate care. Treatments include wound cleansings, anti-bacterial washes and creams, antibiotics and stitches.


Next: The 5 Scariest Pet Emergencies

1 of 2
New in Pets & Animals

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!

b h e a r d !

Welcome to the new SheKnows Community,

where you can share your stories, ideas

and CONNECT with millions of women.

Get Started