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Pet Emergency Clinic Tips: When Should I Take My Dog or Cat to the ER?

Pet emergency clinic

In the realm of pet ownership, moments of crisis can strike suddenly, demanding rapid and informed action. This comprehensive guide explores the essential facets of pet emergencies, offering valuable insights to pet parents on recognizing, responding to, and seeking professional help during critical situations. From poisonous encounters to open wounds and seizures that can grip your beloved animal companions, understanding the nuances of these medical crises is paramount. In the following pages, we’ll delve into the signs, symptoms, and immediate measures necessary to safeguard your pet’s well-being in times of peril. Preparedness and knowledge are the keys to ensuring your furry friends receive the emergency medical attention they deserve.

Handling Pet Poisoning and Other Emergencies

Quick and informed action is paramount for your beloved companion’s well-being during pet emergencies. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to a harmful substance and it’s an immediate crisis, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Contact your regular veterinarian and the nearest emergency animal hospital, such as BrightCare Animal ER, at (949) 716-9270. Time is critical.

Preparedness for Poisoning Incidents

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline is your primary resource in poison-related emergencies. Operating 24/7, 365 days a year, it provides immediate access to vital emergency medical assistance. A consultation fee may apply, but the expert guidance is invaluable.

Understanding Pet Poisoning

Pets can encounter toxins by ingesting plants, foods, household items, medications, or hazardous substances. Each poisoning case requires careful handling and swift attention to ensure your pet’s safety. Here, we offer guidance and identify substances to keep out of your pets’ reach for the sake of their urgent care.

Plants to Avoid

Numerous plants should never be within reach of pets due to their potential for harm. While individual reactions may vary, the following list includes commonly encountered plants known to cause gastrointestinal distress and vomiting:

  • Castor oil or castor bean plant,
  • Cyclamen,
  • Yew,
  • Sago palm,
  • Amaryllis,
  • Autumn crocus,
  • Ivy,
  • Marijuana,
  • Oleander,
  • Spanish thyme.

These and other plants can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe illness or even death. To protect your pet, avoid planting these species near your home or keeping them indoors where your pet can access them.

Food to Avoid

Several human foods can be highly toxic to pets, necessitating careful monitoring of their diet. Some common foods to avoid include:

  • Alcohol,
  • Avocado,
  • Chocolate,
  • Coffee, and caffeine subproducts,
  • Grapes and raisins,
  • Macadamia nuts,
  • Yeast dough.

To ensure your pet’s safety, prevent access to these foods and exercise caution when disposing of them.

Household Products to Avoid

Pets’ curiosity can lead them to household products that are even more hazardous than certain foods. In case of contact with the following substances, seek immediate veterinary attention:

  • Bleach,
  • Antifreeze,
  • Rat poison,
  • Carpet fresheners,
  • Carpet shampoo,
  • Essential oils,
  • Fabric softener sheets,
  • Febreze,
  • Grout,
  • Swiffer wet jet.

Ensure these items are stored securely, out of reach of both pets and children.

Medications to Avoid

Human medications are typically formulated in doses that pets cannot tolerate. Any instance of a pet consuming human medication should be treated as a life-threatening emergency, regardless of the type or quantity of medication. Medications to be cautious of include:

  • Adderall,
  • Petroleum jelly,
  • Aspirin,
  • Baby aspirin,
  • Face wash,
  • Soap,
  • Breath fresheners,
  • Cigarettes and nicotine patches,
  • Grapeseed oil,
  • Ibuprofen and naproxen,
  • Mosquito repellent.

Keep all medications out of reach for pets and children to prevent accidental ingestion.

Responding to Pet Poisoning – Animal Emergency Guide

  • Remove your pet from the area and ensure no other pets or children are exposed to the poisonous material.
  • Check your pet’s breathing and general condition.
  • Pack a sample of the poisonous material to take with you to the vet.
  • Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, your veterinarian, or the nearest emergency animal hospital.
  • Do not administer home remedies or antidotes unless directed by professionals.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless advised by experts.
  • If emergency medical care is needed, securely place your pet in the vehicle and drive safely to your vet or animal hospital.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, don’t hesitate to call the provided numbers immediately. For questions or concerns, contact BrightCare Animal Emergency. Your pet’s safety remains our top priority.

Inducing Your Pet To Vomit, Who Should Perform It?

If your dog has ingested something harmful, do not attempt to induce vomiting at home. Seek emergency vet services immediately. Harmful substances can include over-the-counter medications, gardening products, toxic foods like chocolate and grapes, and household chemicals.

Professional Vomiting at a Dog Animal Hospital

Taking your dog to a professional veterinarian in an emergency situation is strongly recommended. Veterinarians may use medications like apomorphine hydrochloride or xylazine to induce vomiting safely. However, vomiting may only clear a portion of the stomach contents, and additional treatments and tests may be necessary.

Inducing Vomiting at Home

While it’s not recommended, if you feel it’s necessary to induce vomiting in your dog at home, you can use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. The recommended dosage is 1 tablespoon for every 5 to 10 pounds of your dog’s body weight. This method should only be used for dogs, not cats.

Xylazine for Cats

Xylazine is a medication used to induce vomiting in cats, but it’s not given to dogs. It’s crucial to consult a veterinarian before attempting any home-induced vomiting in cats, as it may not always be safe.

What Not to Give Your Pet

Avoid trying to gag your pet, as animals do not have the same reflexes as humans, and it can lead to trauma. Do not use saltwater mixtures, as they can increase sodium levels in your pet’s system, potentially causing serious health issues like tremors, seizures, and coma.

The primary message is that if you suspect your pet has ingested something harmful, it’s best to seek immediate professional veterinary medical care rather than attempting to induce vomiting at home.

Open Wounds

Dogs are playful and curious by nature, and they can get into trouble easily, just by wanting to explore the world around them. Open wounds are common and can occur for several reasons, including bites, scrapes, punctures, and cuts.

We suggest that pet parents regularly do thorough physical checks on pets to look for open wounds signs. Some Lacerations may bleed profusely while others just slightly. Other signs to look for include:

  • Skin surface is scratched or scraped
  • Bruising
  • Hair loss
  • Hair matting around the wound
  • Pus
  • Pain
  • Redness and swelling

It’s only natural for you to want to help your dog, especially if you see them in pain or discomfort. If the wound is too severe, the best action plan is to contact your trusted veterinarian immediately.

However, there are some things you can do to try and help stabilize your pet before taking them to the nearest emergency animal clinic.

  • Stop the bleeding by placing a clean towel or cloth over the wound and applying light pressure to the area.
  • Clean the wound
  • Remove any visible foreign objects
  • Disinfect the wound
  • Cover up the wound with a bandage

To be prepared in case you ever need to treat an open wound on your pet at home, you can purchase a pet first aid kit, which will have everything you need to help your pup in the case of an emergency.


Seizures could be a symptom of a neurological condition and should be assessed by a vet as soon as possible. There could be several different diseases or conditions that could cause seizures, including epilepsy. Getting your pet checked out is vital so that diagnoses can be made quickly before your pet’s condition worsens.

Types of Seizures

Seizures are scary, stressful, and a sign of a serious problem in your pet. It’s important to know that there are two main types of seizures.

Focal Seizures

This type of seizure, also known as “partial seizures,” only affects a region within one of your pet’s brain hemispheres. You could further determine if your pet is suffering from a simple or complex focal seizure by their awareness level during the episode.

Generalized Seizures

This other type of seizure affects all of your dog’s brain. Keep in mind that most generalized seizures start instead as a focal one affecting only a small region of your pet’s brain and then become a more severe complication.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Having a Seizure?

No matter how good of a pet parent you are, spotting a seizure can sometimes be difficult. Some symptoms may go unnoticed or might be confused with your pet just “acting up.” If you suspect your dog is suffering or has suffered from a seizure, look for the following signs:

  • Hallucinations. Your dog may growl or dog at nothing, try to bite the air or seem fearful for no apparent reason.
  • Apparent changes to their vision or hearing.
  • Dilated Pupils.
  • Problems maintaining their balance.
  • Involuntary movements or muscle spasms.

If you notice any of the above, try comforting your pet by sitting next to them and speaking to them in a comforting tone, or maybe even wrapping them so they feel safe.

Try to time your dog’s seizure episode, and once the episode has ended, take them to the veterinarian immediately.

Once at the pet emergency hospital, try to give as much information as possible to the veterinarian treating your best friend. How long did the seizure last? What behavioral changes did you notice before the seizure started? Any information you provide can be of great help to get your pet back to feeling better sooner.

Other Veterinary Emergencies

Our best friends are loving and playful but tend to get into trouble; that’s just them being them, and it’s normal to have the occasional emergency that isn’t always severe or life-threatening. Some of these emergencies can include:

Not Going to the Toilet

If your pet has not gone to the toilet for more than a day and a half, then they may have an infection that needs some attention. Check for signs of urine in your cat’s litter tray and monitor your dog when you take them out to the toilet to see if they can produce urine.

Going to the Toilet Too Much

Going to the toilet too much can also be a sign of an infection that needs addressing. If your cat or dog is repeatedly going potty over some time, you may well want to get this checked out.

Eye Injuries

Eye injuries are also common and can result from something that simply got into your dog’s eye, such as dirt while playing to something more serious. If your dog is suffering from an eye injury, they might show squinting, rapid blinking, inability to open their eye, tearing, bloodshot eyes. They may also try pawing at their eye and face area.

An Animal Emergency Center You Can Trust

At BrightCare Animal Emergency, we understand and respect that you want to be your dog’s number-one hero by caring for them when times get rough.

However, sometimes, the best thing you can do is place your trust in the hands of experienced veterinary professionals who love pets just as much as you do. Our staff is committed to providing you and your pet with exceptional care so that you can have your pet back by your side feeling better than ever.

To learn more about us and our services, contact us. We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.