Skip to Main Content

Ask About Financing

Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Care

It's not always easy to tell when your pet requires emergency care. Our Vancouver veterinarians explain some signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency room is required.

How do I know if my pet needs Emergency Care?

Day or night, a situation that requires emergency veterinary care could occur, and you'll need to be prepared, if or when it happens to your animal.

It can be difficult for pet owners to recognize when their dog, cat, or other animal requires emergency care. That is why it is beneficial to be aware of some of the signs and symptoms that indicate the need for an emergency vet visit. If you're still unsure, seek advice from your veterinarian or an emergency vet clinic.

Signs of a Pet Emergency

  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing, or choking
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Obvious pain
  • Loss of balance
  • Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye

Basic First Aid

Please note that performing basic first aid on your pet is not intended to replace veterinary care, it is solely to stabilize your animal for a trip to your emergency vet.


Before you start, make sure your pet is muzzled. Place a clean gauze pad over the injury and apply pressure with your hand for several minutes until blood clotting begins to help stop the bleeding. Severe leg bleeding will necessitate the use of a gauze tourniquet secured by an elastic band. Bring your pet to the veterinarian right away.


Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Try to remove objects that may hurt your pet. After the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and phone your vet. 


Put a muzzle on your pet. To transport your pet to the veterinarian, place them on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher. Secure your animal to the stretcher as much as possible to avoid putting pressure on the injured area.


It's important to be cautious because your pet may bite out of fear. Check your pet's mouth for foreign objects and, if possible, remove them. Make sure you don't push the object any further down your animal's throat. Don't waste time attempting this if it's too difficult. Transport your pet to a veterinarian's office or an emergency veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Being Prepared

What You Should Know in Advance

You never know when an emergency will occur, but being prepared for one can help you provide your pet with the best possible care as quickly as possible. In case of an emergency, our Vancouver veterinarians recommend having the following items on hand:

  • The phone number for your vet's office
  • The phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
  • The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
  • How to muzzle your dog when he's in pain so he doesn't bite others
  • Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
  • Knowledge of basic pet CPR
  • Knowledge of how to stop bleeding

Financial Responsibilities

Emergency veterinary care can be costly due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment required. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to ensure that they can financially care for their pet in an emergency.

Put money aside specifically for emergencies or sign up for a pet insurance plan to be prepared for the unexpected. Putting off veterinary care to avoid paying emergency fees could jeopardize your pet's life.

Please contact our Vancouver animal clinic or go to your nearest emergency veterinarian clinic as soon as possible if your pet requires emergency care.

We Welcome New Patients

Columbia River Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients by referral and for emergency services. Our experienced emergency vets  and specialists are passionate about the health of Vancouver companion animals. Ask your vet today about a referral.

Contact Us

Contact (360) 694-3007