The most avoidable pet emergencies
Sadly accidents can happen but with a little common sense and informed decision making regarding your pet’s health, hopefully you can keep emergency trips to the vets to a minimum.
Regular health checks
Make sure your pet has a regular veterinary check up – this can be done annually with their vaccination. Often these examinations can identify health problems before they become serious and prevent emergencies from occurring in the first place.
Pet hazards in the home and garden
Poisonings (in the home) – we see a number of cases of poisonings in the home each year. The most common are chocolate and other food stuffs, contraceptive medicines, other prescription medicines, non-prescription drugs, dog flea products used on cats and washing powder. Keep all substances that are toxic to pets well out of their reach and in secure containers. If your pet is unwell, phone your vet for advice, DO NOT give any human medications to your pet without veterinary advice. Ibuprofen can be toxic to dogs and paracetamol is highly toxic to cats.
Foreign bodies – dogs in particular like to pick up and carry objects like shoes, socks and toys. Unfortunately occasionally these items are swallowed and can lead to a blockage in your dog’s (or occasionally cat’s) intestines. Our vets have removed all manner of items from animals’ intestines over the last couple of years including; socks, pants, stones, corn on the cob, rubber ducks, toy soldiers, batteries, babies dummies, teats from babies bottles, leather strap from a handbag, bones (most commonly lamb), small rubber bouncy balls, kebab stick, latex glove, sewing needle and thread.
Try to prevent your dog carrying around and chewing inappropriate items. Some dogs (especially the gun dog breeds) were bred to carry things in their mouths so ensure they have appropriate dog toys they are allowed to carry to try and prevent them picking up things they shouldn’t.
Vomiting and diarrhoea – the majority of cases of vomiting and/or diarrhoea in dogs is caused by a dietary indiscretion (eating random things!) or scavenging. Try to prevent your dog picking up rubbish like discarded sandwiches or other food or eating dead birds, rabbits or similar he might find on his walk. Some dogs have quite sensitive stomachs, so avoid giving them food leftovers, especially high fat foods.
Out and about
A large number of the cases we see are as a result of trauma. From road traffic accidents to falling off a cliff and everything in between.
Road traffic accidents – If you are going to let your dog off the lead make sure you are in a safe environment. Ensure your dog is well trained (especially the recall and wait/stop command), under control and within your sight at all times. Even the best trained dog can be spooked and run off, so ensure your dog is wearing a collar, ID tag and ideally is microchipped (don’t forget to keep your contact details up to date). This will make it much easier to reunite you with your pet if they do become separated from you.
Indoor cats do not get hit by cars or attacked by other cats or dogs. If you decide to let your cat out, try and train them to be out during the day and in overnight as the majority of cats are hit by cars during the hours of darkness. We see a significant increase in road traffic accidents in the autumn when the clocks change – so try and ensure your cat is back safely in the house by the time it is dark and rush hour begins. Ensure your cat is microchipped to increase the chance you will be reunited should anything happen to your cat.
Sticks – we frequently see injuries associated with sticks. The most common cause of the accident is the when the stick is thrown for the dog and lands like a javelin sticking up out of the ground – the dog then runs onto the stick and can injure the back of the mouth, tongue and oesophagus (food pipe) or trachea (windpipe). Sadly we also see cases of dogs choking to death on balls – the worst are small hard rubber balls, with or without rope attached.
Pyometra – a pyometra is a uterine infection that is most commonly seen in older non-speyed females (both dogs and cats). By neutering your female pet you eliminate this risk altogether. Neutering your pet also brings other health benefits including reducing the risk of mammary (breast) cancer if performed when young.
Kittening/whelping problems - complications arising from kittening or whelping can be numerous so think carefully about whether or not you should breed your pet. Aspects to consider include the suitability of your pet for breeding (temperament, health), time involved and the fact that there is a high number of stray pets in the UK. Another area to consider is the costs that may be involved – a caesarean section in the middle of the night can cost in the region of £1500 or more.
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more about what to do in an emergency.