When shouldn't I wait to go to the vet?
1. Respiratory Distress
Any animal that is having trouble breathing should be taken to the closest vet immediately. Respiratory arrest can occur at any time with death soon following.
Most toxic ingestions can be managed and the patient expected to make a full recovery, if they are brought to a vet with all pertinent information promptly. If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic (medications, rat/snail bait, chocolate, grapes/raisins, lilies), immediate medical attention is warranted. Bring any packaging or containers with you to the vet and be forthcoming. If we know what and how much of something was ingested, we have a much better chance of treatment success than if we have to guess. You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Center (http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control) or use Pet Poison Helpline (petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners).
3. Unproductive vomiting/retching
This can be a sign of Gastric-Dilatation and Volvulus, more commonly known as bloat. GDV requires immediate stabilization and surgical correction. It can result in sudden death due to compression of the great vessels and lack of blood flow. Other signs include: pacing, hypersalivation, abdominal pain, increased heart and respiratory rate.
4. Inability to Urinate
Urinary obstruction is a life-threatening emergency that occurs mainly in male cats but also can occur in female cats or dogs of either sex. Any animal that is straining to urinate with nothing or only a few drops coming out needs to be seen by a vet ASAP. Life threatening electrolyte disturbances that occur when urine cannot be eliminated can be corrected if caught early enough. If this happens your pet will likely need to be hospitalized for several days.
5. Acute collapse, especially if accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea
Collapse can be a sign of shock, anaphylaxis, cardiac disease, neurologic disease, orthopedic disease, or trauma. Any animal that has collapsed should be taken to the vet immediately. Sometimes the inciting cause is not life threatening, but assessment should be made as soon as possible so treatment may begin if necessary.
There are other circumstances that may require prompt medical attention. If you have any questions please feel free to give Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital a call at 562.439.4228.
Dr. Michelle Smith