Skip NavigationSkip to Primary Content

Common Signs of Emergencies

Vomiting or Diarrhea

Your pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian if it is having multiple episodes of vomiting or diarrhea, if there is any blood in either the vomit or the diarrhea or if the diarrhea has a tarry/blackish color and consistency. Unproductive vomiting or retching and a hard distended abdomen can indicate bloat in dogs which can be fatal if not treated IMMEDIATELY. Sometimes only vomiting a few times can even be serious if associated with other signs. Please call so we can help you.

Difficulty Breathing

Watch for breathing that is faster or more labored or noisy/louder than normal. Check your pets gums for a pale/white color or blue-ish color–this can indicate serious cardiac or respiratory disease, internal bleeding, or other very serious issues.

Lethargy, weakness, collapse, or loss of consciousness

Lethargy and weakness may be seen with ANY serious illness. Certain neurologic conditions can cause incoordination, abnormal movement or behavior, or paralysis.

Uncontrolled Bleeding

Minor bleeding may be stopped with direct pressure, but any animal with heavy bleeding or bleeding that does not stop with pressure should be seen immediately. Smaller animals do not have a lot of blood so any amount of loss can be serious.


Any pet that has sustained any trauma (examples: hit by a car, falling, bites from other animals, lacerations) should be assessed even if they are acting normally. Shock or serious internal injuries can sometimes take several hours to days to manifest and cuts or wounds may be deeper than they appear (possibly requiring surgery) and may become infected if not treated.


Any animal that has never experienced seizures before or is experiencing prolonged or multiple seizures within a 24 hour period should be evaluated. An epileptic animal can sometimes have one short seizure (less than 1-2 minutes long) without needing to be seen, but if they have more than one in a day or if the seizure lasts longer than 2 minutes, then they should be seen.

Difficulty Urinating

Straining or frequent attempts to urinate where little or no urine is produced can indicate infection or urinary blockage especially in male cats and ferrets. If not treated, this condition can be fatal. Bloody urine can indicate infection, stones or blockage and indicates your pet should be seen as soon as possible.

Exposure to Toxins or Poisons

Ingestion of medications, household chemicals or plants or inhalation of certain gases/fumes cause toxicities that may require immediate treatment.

Eye Problems

Eye problems can quickly worsen if not treated and may result in eye rupture or loss of sight. Seek vet attention if you are noticing any problems with your pet's eyes at all. Signs can include redness, discharge, excessive tearing, swelling, pain, pawing or rubbing at the eye, squinting or keeping the eye closed, or any other sign not normal with your pet's eye.