When Is an Emergency Vet Visit Warranted for Your Pet?

April 10, 2023

At Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic, we serve the South Charlotte area and offer comprehensive care for your pet’s everyday health and well-being. However, sometimes your pet’s healthcare needs will fall outside of our office hours, and you may need the assistance of one of the emergency practices in our area.

Additionally, there may be times when we assess your pet either here or over the phone during office hours and suggest immediate referral for care at a facility that offers services that we do not.

Contact us to schedule an appointment for any of your standard dog or cat care needs or to discuss how to prepare for a potential emergency.

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Overview of Emergency Vet Services

For many, our pets become our best friends and greatest companions. No matter how much time and energy you invest in caring for your pet’s well-being, sometimes accidents or emergencies happen. In these cases, it’s important to know where to find emergency veterinary services near you.

Emergency vet care refers to medical attention and treatment provided by a veterinarian to an animal in a life-threatening or urgent situation, often outside of the regular business hours of your primary veterinarian. This type of care is often necessary when a pet has a sudden illness, injury, or other condition that requires immediate medical attention to prevent further harm or potential loss of life.

Emergency vet care is typically provided by specialized veterinary clinics or hospitals that are equipped to handle critical cases 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These hospitals are staffed with veterinarians and paraprofessional staff at times when your primary caregiver is not available.

From administering oxygen to handling significant trauma to helping your pet if they consume a toxic material, finding emergency pet care is essential to supplement the services of your dog or cat’s usual provider. 

Understanding Common Pet Emergencies

Some situations where your pet may need emergency care are immediately obvious, such as being hit by a car or having a seizure. Others are more subtle and often lead clients to wonder whether immediate care is needed, or whether they can wait until their primary caregiver is back at the office.

We recommend that you contact an emergency hospital to discuss your concerns if you have any. An emergency pet hospital can help guide you in making a decision as to whether care is needed immediately or if waiting is appropriate.

Even if it appears that your pet is healthy, remaining vigilant for symptoms that require immediate medical attention is essential. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, such emergency symptoms can include:

  • Prolonged or severe bleeding
  • Seizures or losing consciousness
  • Eye injuries
  • Heat-related injuries
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Long-bone injuries that are visibly painful or swollen
  • Signs of severe anxiety or stress

Even if you simply suspect your pet may be in danger, it is always best to find an emergency cat or dog care clinic near you for a second opinion.

For example, if you believe your dog may have swallowed something that may be harmful, such as medications, inappropriate food items, or chemicals, preemptive action and a call to your nearest emergency vet could help prevent the onset of illness — and, in severe cases, could even save their life.

Or, if your male cat has been attempting to urinate frequently while producing no or only small amounts of urine, this can be a sign of a blocked urinary tract, which can be life-threatening if left untreated, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center.

While obvious, one of the most common causes of the need for emergency care is significant trauma. Examples of this include injuries sustained from vehicular trauma, fights with other animals, or significant falls. The degree of injury caused by trauma is often not appreciable for several hours after the incident, so even if your pet initially seems to be fine, complications can happen that warrant after-hours care.

Learning to understand common pet emergencies and acting quickly can mean the difference in finding care for your pet in time.

When to Seek Emergency Veterinary Care

Learning when to seek emergency care for your pet is crucial, especially as they begin to age. While the list mentioned above may help identify severe problems quickly, it does not necessarily consider the myriad of other factors that may impact your pet’s well-being.

For example, if a young cat or dog shows signs of anxiety and stress, it may be less concerning than a senior pet who has responded to a serious ailment with similar behavior in the past. Likewise, as your pet ages, they typically become more susceptible to issues that may not be considered an emergency for younger pets in peak physical condition.

Since there are so many factors that can impact whether your pet’s medical situation may be an emergency, the following considerations can help guide you through the decision-making process of whether to call emergency vet services:

  • The pet’s age, breed, and medical history
  • The severity of their symptoms
  • The business hours of the regular vet and the time of day
  • The availability of care you suspect your pet may need at each respective facility

Suppose your pet has suffered significant trauma or needs oxygen administration. If this is the case, even if you call us at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic first, we may recommend that you immediately go to a nearby emergency vet clinic in Charlotte, NC for your pet’s care.

Proactively finding a pet emergency room near you will be invaluable, as they will likely be able to triage over the phone, answering most questions you may have about the best course of action to seek in your unique circumstances.

There are multiple sources of information that can help you locate an emergency facility, including calling us, consulting the internet, or asking friends or family who has needed care in the past. We STRONGLY recommend you look into emergency facilities prior to needing one so if the need arises, you will already have some idea of where to go.

Keep in mind that regardless of the situation, trusting your instincts as a pet owner can be the first step in saving your pet’s life. When in doubt, seek veterinary care and advice as soon as possible.

Preparing for Pet Emergencies

One of the most beneficial ways to handle any pet emergency is to prepare for a potential emergency situation before it occurs. From preparing an emergency kit and supplies to having a plan in place, proactive action can be a significant factor in your pet’s health.

Some steps to take before an emergency occurs are:

  • Assemble an emergency kit with your pet’s necessary medications, first aid supplies, medical history, and other necessities
  • Become familiar with emergency vet services near you
  • Discuss what to do in case of an emergency with your standard care veterinarian here at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic

By establishing a plan of action and taking proper preventative action to minimize the risk of emergencies, your pet will be in good hands if a worst-case scenario occurs.

Talk to Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic About Emergency Care

At Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic, we do our best to provide for all of your pet’s medical needs. However, whether it is outside of our hours of operation or we are unable to offer the emergency services your pet needs, we may recommend seeking emergency vet services immediately.

Contact our team today to schedule an appointment for all of your routine veterinary needs and questions.

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