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Common Veterinary Emergencies For Pets

Our pets are just as prone to sickness or injury as we are. Unfortunately, sometimes sudden illness or injury is so severe that it necessitates emergency medical treatment from a trained and experienced veterinarian.

There are some types of veterinary emergencies that are more commonly seen than others. Below are some of the most prevalent reasons for visits to emergency veterinarians in the United States.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

For us, a small bout of vomiting or diarrhea may not be a massive cause for concern. An isolated incident in your pet is unlikely to be anything to worry about either. However, if she is being sick or has diarrhea for more than 24 hours, it is strongly advisable to have her checked out by a veterinarian as there is likely to be an underlying cause that needs treatment. There are many different problems that could trigger vomiting or diarrhea, including a parasite infection, gut or intestinal infection or your pet may have eaten something toxic. Watch out for any additional symptoms such as blood in her urine or feces, or uncharacteristic lethargy. If you can, take a sample of the vomit or feces to your emergency vet appointment with you so that they can be checked. This may help our vet to determine the cause of the problem.


Animals are naturally curious creatures, and this means that often they are found sniffing, licking, eating, or drinking something that they shouldn’t. If you are fairly lucky, this may not have any significant effect on your pet. However, some foods and liquids are highly toxic when consumed. Your pet may have eaten decided to chow down on something which isn’t edible at all such as a toxic plant or flower, a pill she has found in the bathroom, or something completely non-sensical like a newspaper. Countless animals are taken to the emergency vet every year because their owner suspects that they have been poisoned. Fortunately, prompt medical attention can often prevent her from suffering permanent damage to her body.

Respiratory Distress

Predictably, breathing problems are always classified as an veterinary emergency situation and you shouldn’t hesitate to get your pet to our vet as soon as you can. There can be a variety of different issues that lead to an animal developing breathing problems and suffering what is known as respiratory distress. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Choking on a foreign object that your pet has swallowed
  •  Heart problems
  • Lung problems
  • An allergic reaction
  • A heartworm infestation (more likely in dogs, although cats and ferrets can be affected too)

Don’t delay in seeking emergency veterinary help if you suspect that your pet has any sort of breathing difficulty.

Pee Problems

Although it isn’t possible to watch your pet every minute of the day, you probably have a fairly good idea how many times each day she pees. If she suddenly goes all day without emptying her bladder, this isn’t normal. In fact, it could indicate that part of her bladder has become blocked – something which is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening scenario. As such, emergency veterinary treatment is recommended. Similarly, if you notice any blood in her urine, or she is straining each time she tries to pee, you should also arrange to get her checked out by our vet at the next available regular appointment slot.


Obviously whether or not an injury is classed as a veterinary emergency will depend on how severely your pet has been hurt. Bleeding that doesn’t stop, a foreign object embedded in your pet’s body, burns, an eye injury or a suspected broken bone nearly always require emergency attention from a vet professional. Administer basic first aid at home if necessary, such as applying pressure to a bleeding wound or rinsing a burn with ice-cold water, and get to our vet as soon as you can.

If you would like more information about common veterinary emergencies, our dedicated team would be happy to assist you or answer any questions that you may have. Please contact our offices in Poway today to speak to us or to arrange an appointment for your pet.

Experienced Emergency Vet Care

Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego is a family-run after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1985. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

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(858) 748-7387