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

Pet emergency clinic

When it comes to your pet getting injured or sick, how can you tell if it is an emergency that requires an immediate visit to an emergency pet hospital? Without knowing how much pain or discomfort your pet is in, it can be hard to tell how significant the problem is.

At BrightCare Animal ER, we know how important your pet is in your life and in your home; after all, they are not only a pet or a valued companion but rather another member of your family.

Much like another of your children, they have their own personalities, giving us unconditional love, and we love them with all of our hearts. They may misbehave, being mischievous and playful, but no matter what, we could never live without them.

They make us, as pet parents and people, a better version of ourselves.

That is why, when it comes to a health scare involving an accident or serious health condition with our beloved furry friends, we can feel anxious and lost. Nobody wants to think about their cats or dogs getting sick or injured. When that happens, our parental instincts kick in, and we want to make sure that our fur babies get the best medical attention as quickly as possible.

With some issues being quite minor and some being more severe, what should you be looking out for in your pets? Let’s take a look at common things that should never be left to chance.

Animal Poisoning

As responsible and loving pet parents, owners are aware that substances such as rat poison are toxic to animals and should be as far away from cats and dogs as possible. However, you might not know that many other regular household items can be just as toxic and often fatal, even if they seem harmless to us as humans.

These common household items that can be the difference between life and death for your pet range from basic cooking ingredients such as garlic and onion to that vase of beautiful lilies on your coffee table, which might bring happiness to your living room. Although it may be hard to believe, these everyday things that seem harmless can be very dangerous for our furry best friends.

Signs of Poisoning

No animal lover or parent ever wants to see their dog or cat in a serious situation. Still, if your pet should get poisoned, there are signs you can look for, which will tell you if you need to take your pet to an emergency vet clinic immediately.

The most common signs of poisoning in pets include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and seizures. Clinical signs of poisoning in a dog may include:

  • Gastrointestinal signs:
    • Vomiting, diarrhea, extreme salivation, loss of appetite, and nausea or dry heaving
  • Internal bleeding:
    • Indicated by pale gums, a racing heart, coughing up or vomiting blood, weakness or lethargy, or a dog’s falling over or collapsing
  • Kidney failure:
    • Increased or decreased urination increased drinking as well as lack of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Liver failure:
    • Yellow gums, acting abnormally or dully and tarry stool (melena), vomiting, diarrhea, or collapsing due to low blood sugar.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, schedule an appointment for them at your trusted veterinarian immediately. Your vet will need to perform a complete physical exam and proper testing for poisoning.

Induced Vomiting

As a pet parent, you might be used to your furry best friend vomiting once in a while, maybe from drinking water too quickly or from eating something off the ground. In cats, occasional vomiting can result from hairballs, which is completely normal.

However, there is also something referred to as induced vomiting. Induced vomiting in dogs is an emergency treatment. Professional vets perform this in an emergency pet hospital to expel a toxic or harmful item from your dog’s gastrointestinal tract before it can cause any damage.

Time is of the essence; veterinarians try to remove any hazardous material as soon as possible after ingestion before the substance has passed through the stomach. This emergency type treatment should only be done by a veterinarian or under the instructions of one.

Sometimes your veterinarian may recommend that you induce vomiting in your dog prior to arriving at the veterinarian clinic when time is critical. Always follow your veterinarian’s instructions to the tee. If you induce vomiting incorrectly, you might do more harm than good.

According to the Pet Health Network, you should never try to induce vomiting with any of the following methods:

  • Physically sticking a finger down the throat
  • Salt (due to side effects from causing a very elevated sodium level)
  • Mustard

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian.

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, lookout 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 that 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.

COVID-19 Alert

BrightCare Veterinary Group takes the safety of our staff and clients very seriously. We continue to monitor the changes related to COVID-19.

BrightCare has enacted specific protocols as recommended by the CDC in order to stay open as an essential business for our community.

• Only essential staff are allowed in the building as our lobby is closed to clients.
• Our facility has enacted curbside check in and check out. Please call 949-716-9270 upon arrival. Inform the staff of the make, model, and color of your vehicle.
• Wait in your vehicle as a staff member will be out to come get your pet. Continue to stay in your vehicle until you are instructed further.
• All persons entering our facility are required to wear a face covering.
• Maintain social distancing guidelines of 6 feet when able.
• If you are sick, we request that another individual bring your pet for you. Our staff members can communicate with you via phone and email.

Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time.