This section highlights important facts about common illnesses and emergencies. Use this information as a guide for immediate action. Never hesitate to call us for more detailed information and treatment. Your pet can not tell you why it is not feeling well. When faced with an emergency, quick action can save lives. Your observations will often help the veterinarian decide on an appropriate course of action. Select from the table below, you'll find a ready source of important facts for dealing with many unexpected situations.
|Allergic Reactions||Auto Accidents||Bleeding||Burns||Choking||Coughing||Diarrhea|
|Odor||Panting||Poisoning||Rubbing at Head||Rubbing at Rear||Seizures||Urination Abnormal|
- Allergic Reactions
A pronounced puffy swelling of the head, especially the muzzle and around the eyes, is called angioneurotic edema. This swelling is often very disturbing to the owner but rarely causes serious repercussions. Insect bites, bee stings, and spider bites are the most common causes. Treatment with corticosteroids and antihistamines is required for a quick response.
The most severe allergic reaction is called anaphylactic shock. Vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing can be followed by coma and death, usually within 15 minutes. Although very rare, it is most commonly caused by a reaction to a vaccination. Other causes include bee or wasp stings. Treatment requires immediate administration of adrenalin and antihistamine intravenously. Top of Page
- Auto Accidents
Approach a pet who has been in an auto accident with great care. Severe bites even to owners are common. If necessary tie a cloth or nylon around the muzzle. Life saving measures can be started only by our veterinarians. Therefore move the pet to the facilities as quickly as possible. Our veterinarians will assess the need for treatment of shock. Examination for internal injuries to the chest and abdomen, lacerations, and broken bones will also be performed. Radiographs and hospitalization for observation are commonly recommended. Top of Page
Trimming nails too short will cause bleeding from cutting the "quick." Commercially available creams will clot blood quickly. If not available, apply flour on a washcloth and put direct pressure on the cut nail for 10-15 minutes.
Bleeding from a laceration or trauma from an auto accident will need veterinary care. If severe, usually applying a tight bandage over the area will help significantly. Common household items for making a bandage include strips of bath towels or washcloths. Use household masking tape or direct hand pressure to hold bandage together. Lacerations should be sutured within 8 hours for excellent healing. Top of Page
Do not apply butter to a burn. Instead apply cold water or apply ice to a burn. Immediately seek veterinary care. Treatment may include pain medication, shock treatment, antibiotics for infection, and surgery. Top of Page
Most commonly caused by a stick caught along the roof of the mouth. Quickly reach in and forcefully grab the stick and remove it. Round roast bones will get trapped around lower jaw. Keep the dog as calm as possible. Your veterinarian will administer tranquilizer or anesthesia to remove the bone. No bone is a safe treat for a dog.
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Observe if the problem is more common at night, worse during the day or worse after excitement. Coughing can be caused by collapsing trachea in many small breeds, viral infection from boarding at kennel, heart disease in many older pets. Also consider heartworm infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, parasite infection. Top of Page
Diarrhea can be confused with constipation. Check for matted hair around rectum. Fecal Impaction is caused by normal stool getting attached to surrounding hair. A fecal parasite exam is often recommended with diarrhea. The first home treatment is to withhold food for 18 hours. If acting sick, or having multiple episodes, or if also vomiting consult the us immediately. Top of Page
Small dogs and short-legged dogs become exhausted quickly in water. Do not encourage visits into a pool or lake where swimming is unsupervised.
If a near-drowning has occurred, administer modified human CPR techniques to the pet. First clear the airway of plant material, clay, or gravel. Second, pull the tongue out of the mouth to clear the airway. Third, hold the pet up by its back legs in a quick attempt to drain the water from the lungs. Spend no more than 30 seconds on this step. Begin CPR by holding lips tightly over the dog's mouth and breath into the dog's nose. Try to fill the pet's lungs with air.
Bring to the veterinarian as soon as possible for continued intensive care and treatment. Top of Page
Normal temperature is 100.5 to 102.5. Take temperature rectally for 2 minutes. Fever is an indication for medical attention. Home care and aspirin are not appropriate. Many cats given aspirin or Tylenol will die or get seriously ill. Top of Page
Frostbite is more common in young or poorly nourished pets. The affected regions include the tips of the ears, the tail, testicles, and the footpads. Apply warm compresses. Do not rub or apply pressure.
Gently dry with cotton bandages. Do not allow re-freezing after initial thawing. Prevent self mutilation. Initially the affected tissues may look pale but it will redden with thawing. Pain and swelling occur.
After several days tissues begin to shrink and discoloration occurs. Necrotic tissue will slough in 20 to 30 days. In-patient treatment includes antibiotics, analgesics, but no cortisone. Top of Page
Heat Stroke can be deadly to your beloved companion, even with emergency treatment. The best way to avoid this terrible situation is prevention, and it's all up to you!
Sun + Humidity = Heat Stroke
The inside of a car on a hot summer's day can be lethal. Days above 90 degrees, especially with high humidity, are inherently dangerous for your pet. Humidity interferes with the animal's ability to rid themselves of excess body heat. When people over heat, they sweat, and when sweat dries, it takes excess heat with it. Pets only perspire around their paws, which is not enough to cool the body. To rid themselves of excess heat, animals pant. Air moves through the nasal passages, which picks up excess heat from the body. As it is expelled through the mouth, the extra heat leaves along with it. Although this is a very efficient way to control body heat, it is severely limited to areas of high humidity or when the animal is in close quarters.
Cracking the Windows Does Not Cut It
Even a mild sunny day can insidiously raise the car's temperature to well above 120 degrees. Never leave your pet inside the car. If Fido cannot come with you when you leave the car, leave Fido at home.
Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat Stroke is a medical emergency. Signs of heat stroke are panting, staring, anxious expression, refusal to obey commands, warm dry skin, high fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting and collapse. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, you must act quickly and calmly. Seek veterinary care immediately! Lower the animal's body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Often the pet will respond after only a few minutes of cooling, only to falter again with the temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal. Once your pet is under veterinary care, treatment may include further cooling techniques, intravenous fluid therapy to counter shock, or medication to prevent or reverse brain damage.
Precautions to Take If Your Pet Lives Outdoors
Leaving animals outdoors without shelter is just as dangerous as leaving them inside the car. Be sure they are not left in a kennel out in the sun, on a chain in the backyard, or outdoors in a run without sufficient shade, air circulation, fresh water, and avoid excessive exercise on hot or humid days.
Their Lives Are In Your Hands
Even with emergency treatment, heat stroke can be fatal. The best cure is prevention. With ample precaution, both you and your furry friends can enjoy those long, hot dog days of summer. Top of Page
Dogs and cats can survive body temperatures of 86 degrees for 24 hours. The extent of injury can vary widely. Rapid return to normal body temperature is considered essential. Patient treatment includes intravenous warmed fluids and dextrose. Immediately place in a warm room; wrap in a blanket until transported to our facility. Top of Page
Even minor cuts will benefit from cleaning the wound and suturing before infection sets in. This critical period ends after the first 6-8 hours. Bleeding cuts may be painful so approach the pet with caution. Apply a tight bandage to a severe cut to slow bleeding. Top of Page
Most commonly caused by a pulled muscle injury. Other causes include a broken or infected nail, broken bone from a fall or car accident, reaction to recent vaccination, torn anterior knee ligament, Lyme Disease after exposure to infected ticks, arthritis in old dogs, and ruptured disk in back. Hip Dysplasia is an arthritic condition of the back legs of larger breed dogs.
Although difficult, try to determine which leg is lame. Examination by a veterinarian is indicated if lameness has a duration of more than 24 hours or if the pet's pain is severe or reoccurring. After examination, strict rest, additional x-rays, and/or blood tests may be recommended. Top of Page
Infection causes odor in the ears, skin, and teeth.
Ear infections are the most common ailment seen by our veterinarians. Breeds with long floppy ears are most prone to problems. The ears should have a light pink color. They should not look red or have a foul odor. Repeated ear infections may be better managed with a preventative ear cleaning program at home.
Red itchy skin commonly indicates skin infection, allergies, flea infestation, or contact allergies. Skin allergies in pets are almost always caused by pollens that are inhaled into the lungs. Treatment includes medications to reduce the pet's discomfort.
Cats will commonly have bite wounds that form abscesses within 2-4 days. Call us for examination, antibiotic injection, and antibiotics at home for 10 days.
Rubbing at the face, loss of appetite, and a painful response when examining the face are common with infected teeth. Dental tartar, gum disease, red gums, infected teeth, chipped teeth, or loose teeth could be responsible. Dental surgery including dental cleaning, polishing and gingivectomy are commonly performed at our clinic. Top of Page
In dogs, panting is commonly associated with severe heart disease. May seem to be of sudden onset. Dry, harsh cough observed at night or early morning. Other symptoms include exercise intolerance, blue hue to gums and fainting. Always an emergency. Consult a veterinarian immediately.
In cats, commonly associated with fluid accumulation in the chest. Heart disease, feline infectious peritonitis, deep chest infection, and lymph vessel rupture could be the cause. This is always an emergency. Consult a veterinarian immediately.
Fever, anemia, and painful injuries will also cause panting. Top of Page
Call the Westgate Pet Clinic or Park Pet Hospital for specific information about treatment. If vomiting is needed to remove the poison, hydrogen peroxide can be given orally. The dosage is 5 ml per 10 lb. of pet, to a maximum dose of 2 tablespoons (30 ml). Repeat ½ dose only once if no vomiting within 15 minutes. Vomiting may be contraindicated with certain poisons. Vomiting will remove the poison only if given within 1-1/2 hours of ingestion. Our veterinary facilities have better means to achieve vomiting.
Rat poisons taste good to dogs, cats, and mice. Many pets will seek out these dangerous poisons. Common anticoagulant rodenticides include D-con, Talon, Warfarin, Havoc. These poisons cause death by internal bleeding. An antidote exists if quick action is taken. Cholecalciferol rat poisons include Quintox, Rampage, and Rat-B-Gone. These poisons cause high calcium levels in the body that result in kidney failure, seizures, and vomiting. There is no antidote for these poisons, but early treatment and monitoring may be successful.
The following contains more detailed information about the most common household related poisons.
Ethylene Glycol, commonly known as antifreeze, ranks first as the cause of death in pets by poisoning. It is a sweet tasting odorless liquid which cats and dogs love to consume. In even small amounts it is deadly. Early signs to watch for include vomiting, increased urination, increased heart rate, abnormal unstable walking.
As little as 1/2 ounce of a 50:50 antifreeze mix can cause death in a 9 pound cat and 4 ounces can be lethal in a 22 pound dog.
Chocolate tastes sweet and we love to eat it but it includes a natural product called theobromine which can cause toxicity in pets. Theobromine is related closely to caffeine and has similar stimulating effects. With severe overdosing, excitement, tremors, increased heart rate, seizures and sudden death have been reported. More common signs of mild overdosing include increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea and restlessness. Many severe poisonings occur from repeated ingestion of chocolate because theobromine is metabolized slowly in the body. If your pet eats chocolate, make sure it is not a repeat offender.
As many of us know, not all chocolates are created equal. Similarly, theobromine content differs in various chocolates. A sweetened milk chocolate bar contains 60 mg of theobromine per ounce, unsweetened chocolate contains 450 mg theobromine per ounce and cocoa powder contains 150-600 mg theobromine per ounce. The shells of the Cacao bean are occasionally used in landscaping and contain up to 3% theobromine. A safe exposure is considered under 20 mg per pound of pet. No deaths have been reported at amounts less than 100 mg per pound. A milk chocolate bar is of little concern but a pound of imported chocolates is life threatening. The clinic recommends home monitoring of pets that have ingested small amounts of chocolate and a clinic visit if the pet is ill or has ingested larger amounts.
Acetaminophen is a commonly used over the counter medication for pain relief and control of fever. Popular trade names include Tylenol, Panadol, Sinutab, Sinarest, Excedrin and Triaminicin. Unfortunately, in pets, acetaminophen can result in severe toxicity and death. If symptoms occur consult us immediately.
Calculating Toxicity in Cats
Cats lack the liver enzyme that metabolizes acetaminophen in humans and dogs. Severe toxicity in cats occurs with 3/4 tablet of regular Tylenol or 1/2 tablet of extra strength Tylenol. In cats, acetaminophen attacks the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in blood turning it a dark brown color. Walking will be unsteady, muscles tremble, paws and face will get puffy, and breathing will turn rapid and shallow. Death soon follows.
Calculating Toxicity in Dogs
Severe vomiting can be seen with doses as small as 50 mg/lb.
Non-aspirin over-the-counter medications containing ibuprofen are commonly available for people. Brand names include Advil, Medipren, Nuprin, Motrin IB and Midol. Following ingestion, ibuprofen is rapidly absorbed into the blood. Because dogs and cats are not able to metabolize ibuprofen, the medication lasts in the body for a much longer time than in people.
Serious toxic effects in healthy dogs with a single dose could be expected at 1 Advil tablet per 10 pounds of pet. Stomach ulcers have been noted at 1 tablet per 30 pounds of dog if given for more than 2 weeks. Even small amounts of ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and bloody diarrhea. Cats are prone to labored panting.
The most severe toxicity of ibuprofen is sudden kidney failure. Many older pets have decreased kidney function and this makes them more susceptible to these dangerous consequences.
Aspirin is the most widely prescribed human medication. In cats, aspirin is very toxic and is only rarely prescribed by veterinarians. However, poisoning is much more common in dogs because cats do not favor the bitter taste of aspirin
Calculating Toxicity in Cats
Doses greater than 5 mg per pound can cause vomiting, retching and panting. Cats find it difficult to metabolize aspirin and this could cause liver damage. Calculating Toxicity in Dogs
Commonly used for treatment of arthritis in older dogs but a buffered tablet like Ascriptin with Maalox is recommended. Always call the clinic to discuss dosage before starting! Overdosing can cause vomiting, panting and incoordination. Top of Page
- Rubbing at Head
All eye problems look alike. Only by a veterinarian's examination can the seriousness of an eye problem be determined. Common eye problems could involve allergies, corneal ulcers, glaucoma, injury, or a foreign body. See the section on odors to evaluate ears and teeth. Top of Page
- Rubbing at Rear
Matted hair and impaction of fecal material can cause redness and discomfort. Anal glands are located under the tail, next to the rectal opening. Open abscesses or severe infection of the anal glands are common problems. Intestinal parasites are infrequently a cause of rectal discomfort.Top of Page
Generalized seizures result in collapsing to the floor with rapid, stiff leg paddling and excessive drooling. Usually lasts only 2-4 minutes. Life threatening only if it lasts for more than 15 minutes. The seizure is typically followed by a period of exhaustion, disorientation, and occasionally loss of eyesight.
Move the pet into the center of a room so that no traumatic injury will occur. The pet will not swallow its tongue, so do not place your hand in its mouth. Seek immediate veterinary attention for prolonged seizures.
Seizures are only rarely caused by poisonings, infections, or tumors. Most seizures are an inherited breed predisposition starting in dogs at 2-5 years of age. Commonly affected breeds include German Shepherds, Turverens, Keeshonds, St. Bernards, standard and miniature Poodles, Beagles, Irish Setters, Cocker Spaniels, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.
If seizures are frequent they are often easily controlled with a medication called phenobarbital. A routine series of blood tests is recommended to rule out any medical reasons for seizuring. Top of Page
- Urination Abnormal
The veterinarian would like to know if the urine looks abnormal, if there is straining to urinate, and if there is increased drinking.
A complete urine analysis, radiographs and/or culture will help differentiate between urinary tract infection, bladder stones, kidney infection, prostate infection, and cancer. Blood tests may be recommended to rule out urinary incontinence, kidney failure, diabetes, or hyperadrenal conditions.
Cats commonly get crystal formation in their urine. This feline urologic syndrome which can be associated with death if a urine blockage occurs.
Inappropriate urination with normal urine usually means a behavioral problem. Behavioral urination problems can be treated through behavior modification techniques, medication, and/or neutering. Top of Page
Serious if frequent, accompanied by blood, accompanied by diarrhea, or if pet is acting sick. The most common cause is a mildly upset stomach from ingestion of human food. Other more serious causes include obstruction from swallowing an object, pancreatitis from ingestion of fatty foods, and in cats obstruction of the urinary bladder.
Gastric volvulus is seen in large breed dogs and results in a tremendously distended abdomen from air filling up the stomach. Such dogs will have distended abdomens, attempt to vomit, have difficulty breathing and restlessly pace the floor. Dogs with gastric volvulus will succumb quickly and need immediate emergency care. Top of Page
- Weight Loss
Suspect intestinal parasites, diabetes, or hyperthyroid conditions when pets are eating well but losing weight. Intestinal parasite infection can be checked by feces examination. Many parasites are microscopic or are seen only in chronic cases. Hyperthyroidism causes weight loss in older cats. Diabetes is associated with weight loss, increased drinking, and frequent urination.
Many other diseases are associated with weight loss and loss of appetite. Weight loss should always be investigated by our veterinarians. We will document your pet's weight on every visit. Top of Page