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Dog Emergency

What to do if your Dog is Having a Medical Emergency

Emergency care is available at all three SCVG locations during regular business hours. 

If your dog has suffered a sudden trauma or is experiencing any life threatening symptoms, please call your nearest SCVG hospital immediately so that we can offer instruction and prepare for your arrival. In some cases, we may refer you to an alternate 24-hour emergency care facility.  

There are times when you are certain that your dog has an emergency (ie: hit by a car) and there are times when you are very concerned, but not convinced that it is an emergency requiring immediate care. When in doubt, call us so that we can help assess your specific situation, and direct you to the best course of care and treatment for your dog.

In the case of a dog medical emergency, waiting until "regular business hours" is not an option. In addition to your SCVG hospital, we recommend that you have a list of 24-hour emergency veterinary hospitals located near you, prepared in advance for your reference.

We are staffed and equipped to handle all types of emergencies. Emergencies are very stressful, and it is important that you do your best to remain calm. Your dog will be soothed by your ability to remain calm and speak and a calming tone while driving them to the hospital.

Our experienced veterinary team can help increase the odds of recovery for your beloved furry friend, even in the face of the most severe dog emergency care situations.

Dog Emergencies that Require Immediate Veterinary Attention

  • Difficulty Breathing: Difficulty breathing is an immediate emergency because low oxygen levels and the events that follow can lead to respiratory arrest and possibly death if not treated quickly. In addition, when this is occurring, your dog is suffering and panicked. It may arise slowly or acutely. Regardless, when you notice any of these symptoms, your dog is in trouble and needs veterinary care. Symptoms include labored breathing, making alarming noises, or puffing of the lips
  • Restlessness: Restlessness is when your dog simply cannot get comfortable, and can be a sign of many urgent or emergency situations. It can include excessive panting, inability to lie down comfortably, abdominal distension, or unsuccessful attempts to vomit.
  • Bloat is one of the most urgently life-threatening situations a dog can face. It is generally seen in deep-chested, large breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Standard Poodles
  • Seizures: Although a solitary seizure may not be life threatening, seizures often come in clusters and can become progressive. If your dog has never had a seizure and is not currently under the care of a veterinarian for a seizure disorder, we recommend seeking immediate medical attention
  • Collapse or Profound Weakness: These can be symptoms of a major illness such as internal bleeding, anaphylactic shock, ingestion of certain poisons, an endocrine condition, and some types of organ failure.
  • Major Trauma: This includes suspicion of hemorrhaging, or if your dog has fallen, been struck by a car, or gets into an dog fight. Remember, some dogs hide their injuries as an instinctual defense mechanism, so if something has happened that would cause you to suspect major trauma, seek immediate medical attention
  • Dog Fight: All dogs should be seen by a veterinarian after a dog fight. The bite or puncture wounds on the outside of a dog are usually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of damage the dog may have sustained during the fight.
  • Vomiting and/or Diarrhea: Repeated vomiting and diarrhea, especially with the presence of blood, can rapidly lead to life-threatening dehydration. This can also be a symptom of major problems such as a gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Struggling to Urinate: This could signify a bladder infection or obstruction of the urinary tract by bladder stones, which is a very urgent condition.
  • Not Eating or Drinking: If your dog goes for an extended period of time, such as 24 hours or more, without eating or drinking, seek medical attention.
  • Coughing: Excessive and repeated coughing could be a symptom of kennel cough.
  • Loss of Use of Rear Legs: This is especially common in Dachshunds, Corgis, and other breeds with short legs and long backs. It can be a sign of injury to the spinal cord. This paralysis or partial paralysis is usually very painful, and rapid treatment can make a big difference in outcome.
  • Severe Pain: This is always an emergency. If your dog is restless, hiding, vocalizing, panting, profoundly limping, or exhibiting other symptoms of agony, seek immediate emergency care
  • Exposure to Toxins: If you know or suspect your dog has ingested toxins or medications, contact the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline, or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately

The above list is not exhaustive, and there are many more situations that may necessitate emergency care for dogs. If the situation appears immediately life threatening, please call us immediately. Our staff will do everything possible to save the life of your canine friend, and restore them to full health.

Transporting your Dog safely to an Emergency Clinic

Although your dog might be very well behaved and trained, remember that in an emergency situation, their instinct, as well as feelings of pain or fear, could lead them to bite you if you attempt to secure them. Follow these tips for safely transporting your canine companion to an emergency dog clinic:

  • Approach your dog slowly and calmly
  • Kneel down and say his or her name
  • If your dog shows aggression, you may need someone to aid you in securing and transporting your dog. Towels may be used around the head or neck to attempt to keep the dog from biting while you move them
  • If they are passive, fashion a makeshift stretcher and gently lift them onto it
  • Take care to support the neck and back in case they have suffered any spinal injuries

Once secured, immediately transport them to an emergency veterinary clinic. If possible, call ahead to alert the staff of your pending arrival so they can adequately prepare while you are en route.

First Aid for Dogs

Sometimes, it is necessary to perform first aid in order to stabilize your dog before transporting it to an emergency clinic. Other times, first aid for dogs can be performed at home in order to save their life and buy you enough time to make the trip to an emergency clinic. The only way to be prepared in an emergency situation is to educate yourself before an emergency occurs. Some first aid techniques you can use on dogs include:

  • For external bleeding due to trauma: Try to elevate the affected area, and apply direct pressure to the wound. This could include constructing a makeshift tourniquet to isolate an affected limb. Apply firm pressure with towels, and keep pressure applied until you arrive at the hospital.

How to Perform CPR on your Dog

Performing CPR on your dog may be necessary if he or she remains unconscious after you have removed an obstruction. If an emergency like this occurs, take the following steps to perform CPR on your canine companion:

  • First, check to see if he or she is breathing
  • If not, place him or her on their side and perform artificial respiration by extending the head and neck, holding the jaws closed, and blowing into the nostrils once every three seconds
  • Make sure no air escapes between your mouth and their nose
  • If you don't feel a heartbeat, incorporate cardiac massage while administering artificial respiration. This includes three quick, firm chest compressions for every respiration, until your dog resumes breathing on their own

What to do if your Dog Ingests Poison

If you see your dog ingest a toxic substance, or even if you suspect that he or she has, it is important to seek emergency dog care immediately.

Go directly to the veterinarian. Bring the bottle, package, or any labels with you. Call on your way, and explain what your dog ingested, how long ago it was ingested, and the amount.

Finding the Nearest Emergency Veterinary Clinic

California Veterinary Specialists

2310 Faraday Ave.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 642-2872

39809 Avenida Acacias, Suite E
Murrieta, CA 92563
(951) 397-0631

2409 S. Vineyard Ave Suite O
Ontario, CA 91761
(909) 344-5106

Emergency Pet Clinic of Temecula

27443 Jefferson Ave 
Temecula, CA 92590-2602
(951) 695-5044

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