While veterinary emergencies are stressful for pets and their owners, this guide may serve to help better prepare you and alleviate some of the worry should your pet experience a medical emergency. Please note that this is strictly a GUIDE, and is NOT intended to serve as specific veterinary medical advice or treatment for your individual pet.

As with any emergency situations, one of the most important things is to try to Remain Calm. 

Panic simply increases stress and can limit your ability to think clearly. One of the first things you need to do in an emergency is contact the veterinary hospital and relay the appropriate information regarding your pet’s current situation. You will likely be asked common questions including: How old is your pet?  Is your pet spayed or neutered? Is your pet up-to-date on vaccinations? Is your pet on any medications? If so, which ones and at what dosage?



Use your resources. 

There are several sources of information available to you and your pet during an emergency (see the links posted at

the end of this article). Check out the American Red Cross First Aid Pet App and download it to your smartphone. This application contains

videos and descriptions of basic first aid techniques you may be able to administer to your pet during an emergency, but only if you can do so safely.


Call around, if necessary. The on-call doctor may be involved with another pet emergency when you first call, so you may be asked to leave a brief message detailing your pet’s emergency. You are not being ignored, and you should feel free to call around to one of the local 24-hour veterinary clinics in the area (Carolina Veterinary Specialist of Matthews, NC at 704-815-3939) that has a veterinary technician available to answer some of your more urgent small animal questions.


 3 Common Veterinary Small Animal Emergencies


Vomiting and/or Diarrhea

Vomiting is the forceful removal of ingesta (stomach contents) through the mouth, while diarrhea is the frequent voiding of watery stool. Gross!!

Quick Tip:

If your pet is having 2 or more episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea within 24 hours then you need to withhold food and water for about 6-8 hours. If no vomiting has occurred after this time, offer a small amount of water to your pet. If your pet does not vomit the water, you can offer a small amount of boiled white-meat chicken (no skin, no fat, no bones) and white rice as a bland diet for several days.

Contact a veterinarian immediately if:

-Your pet has blood in the vomit or diarrhea.

-Your pet is not wanting to eat or drink.

-Your pet appears weak and lethargic.



Acute bleeding is often the result of trauma or poisoning, but it is important to remember that bleeding can occur internally (inside) the body as well. Severe and continuous blood loss can lead to a condition known as shock that develops from an overall lack of effective circulation.

Quick Tip:

Use a clean cloth, T-shirt, or gauze to gently apply direct pressure over a bleeding wound. If possible, elevate the wound (by lifting the foot or leg) so that it is above the level of the heart. Internal bleeding is a life-threatening condition, but it is not as obvious as external bleeding.

Contact a veterinarian immediately if:

-Your pet has external bleeding that does not stop within 5 minutes

-Your pet has signs of internal bleeding (pale gum color, coughing up blood, or tips of ears are cool to the touch)

-Your pet appears weak and mentally dull or quiet.



A seizure consists of sudden, uncontrolled body movements that are the result of abnormal brain activity. Seizures can be focal (affecting only portions of the pet) or generalized (affecting the entire pet’s body). There are various causes of seizures, and seizures can occur at almost any age.

Quick Tip:

A seizure generally lasts less than 3-5 minutes. Try to take note of how long your pet’s seizure lasts. While your pet is having a seizure, it is important to protect your pet from injury by keeping them away from dangerous objects, furniture, water, and other pets. Remember to also protect yourself because your pet may become aggressive after a seizure.

Contact a veterinarian immediately if:

-Your pet has a seizure that is lasting more than 5 minutes.

-Your pet has 2 or more seizures within a 24-hour period.

-Your pet has a seizure and is a young puppy, a toy-breed dog, or a diabetic.


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