When should I bring my dog to the emergency vet?

It can be difficult to know when your dog's discomfort is actually an emergency situation. Here, our Greensboro vets share a few symptoms that are among the most common and serious veterinary emergencies.


It's every dog owner's biggest fear.

None of us like to see our beloved pet in any kind of pain. But it's important to know the difference between everyday discomfort and a potentially serious medical situation. If you notice your dog suffering from any of the below symptoms, you need to seek emergency veterinary care.

1. Breathing difficulty

As far as veterinary emergencies go, this is the big one, and for good reason — three minutes without breathing is all it takes to lose a pet's life.

You should seek emergency care immediately if you notice your dog have difficulty breathing, making strange noises while breathing, breathes "funny" or any other kind of breathing abnormality. 

2. Signs of bloat

Bloat, or more formally known as gastric dilatation with volvulus, is life threatening and one of the most urgent situations your dog might face. Symptoms can include the inability to lie down comfortably, trying and failing to vomit, and abdominal distention, but other dogs might only pant or display restlessness.

If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, please find emergency care as soon as possible.

3. Sudden collapse or weakness

A dog that suddenly falls over or has substantial weakness can be suffering from a number of major problems. This list can include, but is not limited to, internal bleeding (including a symptom called hemoabdomen), cardiac compromise (can be caused by a condition called pericardial effusion), anaphylactic shock, certain poisonings, Addison’s disease (a glandular condition), and some types of organ failure.

All of these problems require urgent veterinary attention.

4. Bathroom problems

Whether your dog is struggling to urinate or has unusual stool, sudden changes in bathroom habits is a good indicator of your dog's health. If these habits change and you start to see symptoms like straining, blood or consistent diarrhea, your dog should see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

5. Refusing to eat or drink

You know your dog best, so you'll know if the meal they just skipped is personality-driven or out of the ordinary. However, a dog that goes more than a day without eating or drinking is likely sick and needs medical care. Bring your dog to your emergency vet to help identify the problem and get your pup eating normally again.

This is not an exhaustive list of all symptoms that may require urgent care for your dog. In an emergency situation, please contact our Greensboro animal clinic or go to your nearest emergency clinic right away.

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