Understanding and diagnosing an animal is complicated. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians cannot ask the patient what it is feeling, or where it hurts. In that way providing veterinary care can be very similar to providing pediatric care to babies, if babies got into the types of scraps a dog or cat can get into while your back is turned. It helps when the veterinary medical team understand what led up to the event that caused the symptoms you are describing.
Below we describe a number of common, and complex symptoms that lead to urgent care visits.
Your pet’s medical team will need to conduct diagnostic and exploratory tests and examinations to diagnose and treat the condition. Your veterinarian will start with the least invasive or the most informative test first. Depending on the nature of your pet’s condition, different diagnostic tests will be ordered, they may range from a blood test, to x-rays, to an ultrasound, video scoping, a CT-scan or MRI. Our goal is always to alleviate pain and suffering and treat the cause or the symptoms as quickly as possible. Some conditions are straightforward, some are more complicated.
Please make sure your pet is wearing a leash and collar (or harness), or is safely secured in a pet carrier. If your pet has eaten something, please bring the wrapper or any leftovers with you to the ER.
These symptoms may indicate a number of different conditions. Diagnostic tests and exploratory examinations will be conducted in order to understand the probable cause and provide appropriate treatment. Depending upon the severity of the condition, you might be able to receive treatment at an urgent care center.
Veterinary Urgent Care
Abdominal Pain: Abdominal pain can be secondary to many different causes including, but not limited to, vomiting, diarrhea, infectious disease (parasites, viral and bacteria), eating foreign objects which can obstruct the gastrointestinal tract, and cancer. Animals with abdominal pain may be reluctant to participate in regular daily activities, walk with a hunched posture, or tremor or wince when the abdomen is touched. Abdominal pain is always a good reason for emergency evaluation.
Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions can have many different causes. Some more common causes include insect bites and stings, inhaled allergens, foods, medications, substances that have come in contact with the skin, vaccines and chemicals. Allergic reactions can manifest as facial swelling, hives, vomiting and diarrhea, and respiratory difficulties. Allergic responses can also progress to anaphylactic reactions which are life threatening. If you feel your pet is having an allergic reaction, immediate assessment by a veterinarian is recommended.
Vomiting and/or Diarrhea: Vomiting and diarrhea are very common reasons for dogs and cats to visit urgent care. Their causes are often varied with age and vaccination status. Young dogs can develop vomiting and/or diarrhea from eating objects or foods that they shouldn’t or as a result of various infections (parasite, viral or bacterial). While older dogs can be affected by the same diseases as younger dogs, vomiting and diarrhea can also be a sign of other conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer or organ failure. While vomiting and diarrhea may seem fairly harmless, it is both uncomfortable and can lead to dangerous levels of dehydration if left untreated.
24-Hour Emergency Veterinary Hospital
Cardiac Emergencies: Cardiac emergencies can be vague in their presentation but more common signs include weakness or sudden collapse, coughing, bluish gums or tongue, and shortness of breath. Some of these situations can be life threatening; immediate evaluation is warranted. – please seek emergency care.
Respiratory Changes: Breathing is obviously a vital function of the body. Difficulty breathing can be associated with many different conditions including asthma, heart disease, infections and pneumonia, as well as cancer. If your pet is breathing with more effort or more rapidly than usual, please have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.
Seizures: Seizures stem from abnormal brain activity. Seizures can be associated with toxins, metabolic disorders such as liver disease or low blood sugar, high blood pressure, strokes and aneurysms, cancer as well as conditions our pets can be born with, such as epilepsy. Small seizures can be seen as abnormal behaviors while large seizures can be debilitating causing loss of consciousness, balance and result in thrashing. Seizures can be extremely dangerous, even life threatening. If your pet experiences a seizure, or if you are concerned for your pet, please have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Toxicities: Toxins are everywhere in the environment. Common toxins are household plants (such as lilies and certain palm trees), mushrooms, vehicle fluids, chemicals, medications, some foods and common poisons. Please follow this link for a more comprehensive list of common toxins. Toxicities are treated with decontamination (induction of vomiting – this needs to be done as soon as possible after ingestion, followed by administration of counteracting medications and activated charcoal to continue to bind any remaining toxin in the intestinal tract). Treatment for toxicities should be tailored to the specific toxin. If your pet has been exposed to a substance you feel may be toxic, please bring the packaging associated with the substance for identification to allow quick and effective treatment. A great resource is the Pet Poison Helpline.
Urinary Changes: Abnormal urination can be characterized by an inability to urinate, painful urination or urinating more frequently. Causes of abnormal urination can arise from infection, stones and crystals, inflammation, cancer and rarely foreign bodies (such as plant material or foxtails). Changes in urination behaviors can be a sign of underlying disease such as diabetes, kidney, liver or adrenal disease. Changes in urination can progress to life threatening situations. If concerned about your pet’s urinary behaviors, please call for advice or seek veterinary care as soon as possible.