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When to Visit the Emergency Vet

Accidents, injuries and sudden illnesses can happen to your pet at any time of the day or night. But how can you tell if your pet needs emergency care? Here, our Ambler vets share some examples of dog and cat health emergencies.

What does a pet emergency look like?

Emergency situations can happen at any time, so it's important to be prepared before they happen. 

It may seem strange but knowing when your dog or cat needs emergency care isn't always obvious, so it's good to be aware of some signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the emergency Vet is needed.

If you are ever unsure whether your pet needs immediate veterinary care, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for assistance. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to our pets.

How can I tell if my pet is experiencing a pet emergency?

If your pet shows any of the following signs or symptoms it's time to immediately call the vet for further instructions or to let them know you are on the way with a sick pet.

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

How can I help my pet in an emergency?

The following information should not be used in place of professional veterinary care. Always contact your vet if your pet is experiencing a health emergency, or visit the nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care.

Basic First Aid

First aid on your pet is should never replace veterinary care, it is solely meant to stabilize your pet for the trip to your vet or emergency clinic.

It is also important to be extra cautious around your pet if they are hurt. When pets are in pain they may try to bite or lash out, even at their loving owners.


Check your pet's mouth for objects and try to carefully remove it if possible. Be careful not accidentally push the object further into the throat. Do not waste precious time on this if it's difficult. Bring your pet to the vet immediately.


Begin by muzzling your dog. Place a clean gauze pad or cloth over the injury then apply firm pressure until the wound begins to clot and bleeding slows (typically several minutes). If your pet has a severe leg injury, bleeding will requires a tourniquet of gauze and an elastic band to secure it. Bring your pet to the vet immediately for medical attention. 


Muzzle your dog to prevent being injured why trying to help. Lay your pet on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. If at all possible, secure your pet to the stretcher being sure to avoid the injured area. Contact the vet's office to let them know what has happened and that you are on your way.


If your pet is having a seizure, clear away objects that may cause injury. Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Cover your pet with a blanket to help keep them warm, then once the seizure is over call your vet for further instructions.

How can I prepare in advance for a pet emergency?

Chances are good that your pet will experience a health emergency at some point over their lifetime so prepare now. You will be better able to handle a pet emergency calmly and efficiently if you take the time to prepare in advance. 

What You Need to Know in Advance

In case of a veterinary emergency it is a good idea to have the following readily available: 

  • Phone number for your vet's office
  • Phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
  • Phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center
  • Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
  • Basic understanding of CPR for pets
  • Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
  • A muzzle and an understanding of how to put it on your dog so that people trying to help do not get bitten

Covering The Unexpected Cost of Emergency Vet Care

Emergency veterinary care can be expensive. The cost is largely due to the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment necessary to deal with your pet's health concern. As a responsible pet owner, it is down to you to ensure that you can financially care for your pet when emergency treatment is required.

Planning ahead for unforeseeable circumstances with savings set aside for emergencies, or pet insurance plans can make emergency situations less stressful. Delaying care in order to avoid emergency fees could put your pet's life at risk.

Do vets offer financing to help me cover the cost of emergency vet care?

If a veterinary emergency has taken you off guard, Spring House Animal Hospital is proud to offer CareCredit to help you cover the cost of your pet's urgent care. Click on the link below to learn more about financing your pet's emergency care at our Ambler hospital.

Learn More About Our Financing Options

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your pet experiencing a veterinary emergency? Contact Spring House Animal Hospital right away or visit your nearest after hours animal emergency hospital.

Caring for Pets in Ambler

Spring House Animal Hospital welcomes new and existing clients to our veterinary clinic.

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