What to do in a Pet Emergency

Photo of author
Updated On

I Love Veterinary blog is reader-supported, and we may earn a commission from products purchased through links on this page, at no additional cost to you. Learn more About Us and our Product Review Process >

What Classifies as a Pet Emergency?

Many things can happen to your four-legged friend that classifies as a pet emergency. Sadly, many pet owners have found themselves in a situation to question “is it an emergency or not?”. The truth is that you know your pet best and if you notice something different than usual in your pet’s behavior you should call your vet.

puppy with ambulance I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students
What to do in a Pet Emergency I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

Having a pet emergency can be stressful and confusing, but if you know what to do before, during, and after the emergency then you’ll feel more confident in handling the situation.

This post will outline all of the steps you need to take when caring for your small animal or pet under these circumstances.

What Should You Do in Case of a Pet Emergency?

In the first section of this post, I will go over some of the most common emergencies that your pet could potentially face, and then in a later section, I will cover some general guidelines that will apply to any emergency situation. This way you can make sure you have a plan in place before anything happens.

It’s important to know first-aid for dogs and cats because many small animal emergencies occur outside of normal veterinary hours, on weekends or at night. Also, in some cases, even if your veterinarian is available they might not be able to help you with an emergency situation.

If your pet is experiencing an emergency you should seek immediate veterinary care. If you can’t get to the vet then it’s important that you follow these steps:

  1. Start by calling your local animal control or fire department (if needed). A call can help them find out what type of situation your pet is experiencing so that they can send someone over to assess the damage.
  2. Make sure your pet is able to breathe and has stopped bleeding. If your pet is not breathing then start to perform mouth-to-nose resuscitation (if you know how) and if you don’t know then just blow into your pet’s nose continuously until they start breathing again. If your pet is bleeding then apply pressure to the wound to try and stop the bleeding.

3. Find a suitable way to transport your animal without further injuring them (no placing them on cold hard surfaces as this could cause shock).

4. When you get to your vet call ahead to tell them that you are coming so that they can prepare for your arrival.

General Pet Emergency Guidelines

Now I will cover some general emergency guidelines that you should follow during or after an emergency situation involving your animals.

  1. Keep calm, very few animals die from emergencies, so don’t panic and ask yourself what would help your animal recover? Do you need to give any first aid? Keep it calm and assess the situation before you start worrying about the worst case scenario.
  2. Call your local veterinarian and ask for advice on the situation. If they don’t know then call another vet or an animal health hotline. Veterinarians can be very helpful in providing any kind of animal care, but most importantly they can provide you with instructions and advice concerning what you need to do next (it’s usually best to call ahead and let them know you are coming).
  3. Once you get to the veterinary clinic tell the vet what your pet is experiencing. Even if they can’t help you then just knowing that they know what’s going on and will be there for your pet after the emergency can make a big difference and help reduce stress.  
  4. Some pets need to be kept in a recuperating area while others can be handled right away.

Below we’ve listed some hard to ignore or miss emergencies that require a trip to the veterinarian ASAP.

Get this as a poster for your clinic or classroom! Order HERE!

pet emergency infographic

Sharing is caring!

Photo of author


Project dedicated to support and help to improve Veterinary Medicine. Sharing information and raising discussions in the veterinary community.