Emergency! ... or not?
Have you ever been at the vet clinic in the small hours of the morning for something that wasn't as bad as it seemed? Wouldn't it be great to have a better knowledge of what constitutes an urgent situation? Although the non-emergency can be an expense, it is a lot better than the opposite situation - an emergency that goes untreated and affects your pet's health. So how can you tell when your pet does need emergency attention?
Some definite ‘see the vet now' indicators include seizures, fainting or collapse, as well as any suspected poisoning, including antifreeze, rodent or possum poison and snail bait. Cats, in particular, can be fatally sensitive to insecticides such as flea-control medications that are safe for dogs, petroleum-based products or certain medications.
Cats can also suffer from lower urinary tract disorders. If your cat seems to be uncomfortable, is crying or distressed, is straining and passing only a few drops or no urine, take it directly to the emergency vet. Unblocking the urinary tract and releasing pressure on the bladder is a life-saving procedure.
Cat fights are a fact of life. If the fight has just occurred and your cat seems fine, you are probably safe to wait and see your vet the following day. If your cat is extremely distressed or has received an obvious eye injury (to the inside lid or globe of the eye), this is a true emergency. Sometimes an alarmed owner is confronted with a burst, pussy abscess which developed from a fight. As long as your pet is well in itself, this is not an emergency. Make your cat as comfortable as possible and book an appointment at the vet clinic for the next day.
Sometimes situations that might not seem urgent really are, such as eye injuries or allergic reactions, with swelling around the face or hives. More than two or three episodes of diarrhoea or vomiting within an hour or so could also indicate a serious problem, as well as any breathing difficulty or extreme lethargy. Other signs of pain that may not be as life-threatening but might warrant immediate veterinary attention include panting, loss of appetite, aggression, and hiding or crying.
NEVER ADMINISTER HUMAN PAIN RELIEF MEDICATION TO PETS, in particular cats. Cats are very sensitive to many drugs used as pain relief in humans, such as aspirin and paracetamol, and these drugs can be fatal to them.
Animals can sometimes seem fine after accidents, such as being hit by a car, exposed to extreme heat or cold, or being cut or bitten. If the accident seemed serious, even if your pet looks fine, you need to take them to a vet immediately to check for internal injuries that can result in death if left untreated. Remember animals are often better at hiding illness than humans and can be in shock or have other serious injuries without showing any obvious signs.
While it may be possible to wait until your regular vet is available, put yourself in your pet's place - don't let him/her suffer. If you're in doubt about the seriousness of a problem, please give us a call. Remember that it's better to make a trip you needn't have made than to miss the one you should have made.