Emergencies – When Your Pet Needs to be Seen ASAP

Charlie Phone

Photo courtesy of Megan Van Paris

All of the staff at Blum Animal Hospital is trained to recognize emergency situations. The Veterinary Care Coordinators, who answer calls from concerned pet owners, are especially adept at helping clients define an “emergency. Although many clients recognize when their pet is in distress or needs immediate attention, there are some situations in which the emergency may not be as clear. Here are two common emergencies seen at Blum that are not always recognized in early stages.

When a male cat is going in and out of the litter box, straining to urinate with little or no urine being produced and possibly crying or yowling, this can be an emergency. Male cats can become “blocked,” which means they are unable to produce urine due to a blockage in the urethra from urinary stones, mucous/sediment plugs or inflammation. This condition can be life-threatening because potassium and kidney toxins increase in the bloodstream, and in extreme cases the bladder can burst. If your male cat is displaying any of these signs, it is important for him to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible to check for a urinary obstruction. 

If your dog recently ate and the stomach is starting to become larger, this could be a sign of bloat, which can lead to a twisting of the stomach known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). Bloat can affect any breed, but it usually occurs in large breed dogs such as Great Danes, Weimaraners and St. Bernards. When a dog’s stomach begins to fill with air, the pressure starts to build, which stops the blood supply to the rear legs and abdomen from returning to the heart. Bloat also causes the stomach to flip and this cuts off the openings leading to the esophagus and out towards the intestines – not allowing the dog to vomit or belch. Bloat is an extremely life-threatening condition, so anytime an owner is concerned their pet may be experiencing it, they should contact us immediately. Again, the inability to vomit with a bloated appearance to the stomach can be a life-threatening emergency and should be seen immediately.

Two additional signs your pet may exhibit that can indicate a serious emergency include head pressing and tarry stools. Causes of head pressing can include:a toxicity, brain tumor, metabolic disorder, encephalitis or stroke. The other sign is if your pet is producing black, tarry stools. This is usually indicative of bleeding in the GI tract and shows up in the stool as digested blood – meaning a large amount of blood is being lost internally.

If you are concerned your pet is experiencing any of these conditions, please contact us as soon as possible to assess the situation. 

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.