You can’t protect your pet from every hazardous situation, but you can take certain precautions to decrease their risk of experiencing a veterinary emergency. Our team at University Veterinary Hospital wants to help by providing tips to help prevent common pet emergencies.

#1: Schedule regular wellness examinations for your pet

If a disease is discovered in the early stages, and the appropriate measures are taken to treat or manage the issue, your pet is less likely to experience a veterinary emergency related to that disease. Scheduling regular wellness visits is the best way to ensure health issues are discovered before they can cause your pet significant problems. Diseases that can be discovered during a routine wellness exam include:

  • Kidney disease — Routine blood work can reveal increased kidney values, indicating early kidney disease. If not diagnosed and managed in the early stages, toxin buildup in the bloodstream can lead to vomiting, confusion, inability to walk, and seizures, which constitute veterinary emergencies.
  • Heart disease — Conditions such as heart murmurs and heart arrhythmias that can be appreciated during a routine wellness physical examination can indicate heart disease. Certain heart conditions can be managed with specific medications, but if not diagnosed in the early stages, the heart will eventually fail. End stage heart failure signs include veterinary emergencies such as difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and collapse.
  • Diabetes — Routine blood work and a urinalysis can detect diabetes, which, if not monitored and managed appropriately, can result in veterinary emergencies such as hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis. Signs include vomiting, difficulty breathing, unresponsiveness, and seizures.

#2: Don’t let your pet run unrestrained

Being hit by a car is a common veterinary emergency that causes issues such as fractured bones, lacerations, crushing injuries, and blood loss. To prevent your dog from becoming a car accident victim, keep them on a leash at all times, unless they are in a properly fenced area. If your dog is adept at escaping their neck collar, keep them secure with a harness style collar. For cats, keep them indoors, and monitor doorways when you enter and leave your home. 

#3: Never leave your pet in an unattended vehicle

You may be tempted to crack your window and leave your pet in the car while you run a quick errand, but this scenario seldom ends well for your pet. Numerous pets die every year from heat exhaustion when their owner leaves them in the vehicle. Your pet doesn’t sweat effectively, and they must use other methods, such as panting, to cool themselves. When inside a hot car, where temperatures can rise quickly, this method is not adequate to keep your pet cool. The excessive temperatures can damage your pet’s heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. Heat exhaustion, with signs including excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, collapse, and seizure, is a veterinary emergency.

#4: Ensure your pet can’t access your garbage or food supplies

Many common human foods, such as grapes, chocolate, xylitol, and onions, are toxic to pets. Ensure your pet doesn’t have access to your food supplies, to keep them from ingesting a toxic substance. In addition, ensure your garbage is in sealed containers so they can’t go dumpster diving. This will also prevent them from accidentally ingesting a foreign body, such as a bone or plastic wrap, that would require surgical removal. 

#5: Provide safe toys for your pet

Toys play an important role in mentally and physically engaging your pet, but their toys must be appropriate, to ensure they don’t pose a safety issue. Considerations include:

  • Chew toys — Every dog’s chewing behavior is different, and you should choose a chew toy based on your dog’s size and chewing personality. If you have a large dog, a small chew toy could cause a choking hazard, so you should choose a toy large enough that they can’t swallow. If your dog tends to destroy toys, they could tear open a soft toy and accidentally ingest the inner material, causing a foreign body intestinal blockage. 
  • Feathers — If your cat accidentally ingests a feather, the sharp barb could injure their mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Choose feather-free cat toys.
  • Hard toys — Ensure your pet’s toys are not too hard, because your pet could break a tooth if they enthusiastically bite down on an extremely hard toy. Avoid toys such as bones, antlers, and hooves.

#6: Ensure your medications are safe from your pet

Many over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, beta blockers, and sleeping aid medications, are toxic to pets. Ensure you keep your medications in a safe place that your pet can’t access. In addition, take your medication in a separate room, closing the door to prevent your pet from stealing the drug if you drop the tablet or pill.

#7: Keep only pet friendly plants in and around your house

Many common decorative plants and flowers, including lilies, tulips, azaleas, and dieffenbachia, are toxic to pets. Know which plants are dangerous to your pet, so you can ensure you bring home only pet-friendly plants. If you do bring home a toxic plant, ensure your pet can’t access any part of the plant. In many cases, drinking the water hydrating the plant is enough to make a pet sick.

Many pet emergencies are unavoidable, but following these tips can help decrease your pet’s risk. However, if your pet does experience a veterinary emergency, contact our team at University Veterinary Hospital, so we can get them the care they need as quickly as possible.