Pet Emergencies

What to Do in Case of a Pet Emergency

The key to handling a pet emergency is to know the proper actions to take prior to it happening. The number one thing to do if you feel your pet has an emergency is to get them to a veterinarian immediately. Become aware of your veterinarian's office hours and the locations of local emergency centers. Although a phone call to let the E.C. know you are on the way is not required, it is certainly recommended to call the animal hospital that you are taking your pet to when you are on the way if possible, so they can be prepared to care for you and your pet as soon as you walk through the door. The intention of the information below is only to assist you in stabilizing your pet to transport them to a professional for treatment and not for any other purpose.

pet erngency

Pet First Aid Kits

Having a few items in portable carrying case is always helpful, so you are not rushing around to find what you need. The following are a few things that you should keep on hand:
1. Tweezers
2. Sterile saline (contact solution)
3. Roll gauze and gauze sponge
4. Adhesive tape
5. Antibiotic ointment
6. Nylon leash
7. Latex gloves
8. Diphenhydramine
**Notice that there is only one medication listed above. DO NOT give your pets any medication (Motrin, Tylenol, aspirin, etc.) unless specifically told to do so by a doctor.
9. Have a proper fitting muzzle handy also. If your pet is in extreme pain, apply the muzzle before attempting to move or treat your pet. Even the sweetest, calmest pet may bite without thinking when in pain.

Abdominal Pain: lethargic, arching back, unable to get comfortable, vomiting, diarrhea, bloated or distended abdomen - Abdominal pain can be life threatening. Pick up and carry your pet if you can (avoiding any pressure on the abdomen). DO NOT feed
or water your pet as that could worsen the condition.

Allergic Reactions: fever, vomiting, hives, scratching, swollen face, puffy eyes, trouble breathing - Call your veterinarian immediately!!! They may advise you to medicate your pet so the drug can begin working while you are on the way to the clinic. It is imperative to get your pet in as soon as possible to help prevent

Lacerations/Bite Wounds:
Approach the pet slowly because some pets that would not normally be may become aggressive when in pain. If there is a very large wound, it may be wrapped with a clean dressing. It is ok to apply firm pressure to slow down bleeding if need be, but DO NOT use a tourniquet. If the wounds are dirty, it is ok to rinse off the wounds with saline or water, but do not try and scrub them up. Seek veterinary care ASAP. The Dr may need to close the wounds, apply a drain or send the pet home on antibiotics to prevent infection.
Wounds that are managed within the first 6 hours typically require a less aggressive treatment.

Eye Emergencies: Squinting, discharge, tearing, redness, swelling, bleeding, different pupil size. If there is a laceration or a foreign object in the eye, DO NOT bandage it or try to remove it. If a chemical or dirt has gotten into the eye, it is ok to flush it out with saline. Eye problems can escalate very quickly. If you think your pet has an eye problem, do not take it lightly. Get your pet into the vet as soon as possible.

Fractures: Pain, not using a limb, limb looks bent or swollen. DO NOT move the limb. If the limb is bleeding or you can see bone, it is ok to wrap it in a clean towel, but try to avoid applying pressure as it is
easy to impede blood circulation.

Heat Emergencies and Dehydration: Excessive panting or drooling, lethargic, unable to stand or walk straight, vomiting, diarrhea. DO NOT try to get your pet to stop panting!! This is your pet's way of cooling off. Bring the pet into a cool place and apply water or ice to the tongue. Apply alcohol soaked pads to the bottom of your pet's feet. Get your pet to the vet as soon as possible as dehydration can lead to other serious medical conditions.

Poisonings: Disorientation, vomiting, seizures, lethargic, salivating. Go directly to the vet. If you know what your pet ate, bring the packaging with you. It is always a good idea to call a poison control hotline as well. There are many different toxins out there, so calling them and having a reference number ready for the veterinarian will help tremendously. Treatment for toxicity is imperative to begin as soon as possible to reduce the amount absorbed by the body.

Respiratory Emergencies: Collapse, weakness, blue/gray gum color, abnormal breathing - Take your pet directly to the nearest clinic.

Seizures: Shaking, tremors, unable to stand, loss of bowl or urinary control. DO NOT restrain your pet during a seizure. Move anything around your pet so they can not hurt themselves. Try and make a note of how long the seizure lasts, if the pet went out into a rigid body position, and if the pet lost control of its urinary or bowls. Try and get to the vet as soon as possible.

Cardiac Emergencies: collapse, weakness, blue/gray gum color, increased or decreased respiratory rate, respiratory distress. Go to the nearest clinic ASAP!!

Performing CPR

DO NOT assume that there is no heartbeat or pulse simply because an animal is not breathing. Do not start chest compressions before checking for a heartbeat. If the animal is conscious and responds to you, then the heart is beating.

Small Dog (< 30lbs) or Cat:
Lay your pet down on its right side with the chest facing you. Kneel and place the palm of one of your hands over the ribs at the point where the elbow touches the chest. Place your other hand underneath the right side. With your elbows softly locked, compress the chest 1/2 to 1 inch. If working alone, perform five chest compressions for each breath for five rotations and then check for a pulse. If there are two people, have one perform the compressions at a rate of three compressions for each breath, then check for a pulse.

Medium to Large Dog (30-90lbs):
Stand or kneel with the animal's chest towards you. Extend your arms at the elbows and cup your hands. At the point where the left elbow lies when pulled back to the chest, compress the chest about 1-3 inches. If working alone, perform five chest compressions for each breath for five rotations and then check for a pulse. If there are two people, heave one perform the compressions at a rate of two or three compressions for each breath, and then check for a pulse.

Giant Dogs (90+ lbs):
Use the technique for medium to large dogs, but do ten compressions for each breath, and then check for a pulse.


Georgetown Poison Control

Animal Poison Control (ASPCA)
$50 Fee (includes free follow-up calls)

Pet Poison
$35 Fee

National Animal Control Poison Center
$55 Fee

One last thing that is good to have ready is a plan in case you need to evacuate your home due to inclement weather. Have a list of supplies you may need for the pet in case you are gone for up to four weeks. A few suggestions are the following:
1. Bottled Water
2. Food
3. Leash
4. Crate
5. Heart worm medication, flea control and any other medication your pet is on.
6. A list of pet friendly-hotels near by.

Virginia Beach Veterinarian | Birdneck Animal Hospital
508 North Birdneck Rd Suite C
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Phone: (757) 355-5694


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Feedback from our clients

  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.