Puppy A&E: Recognizing symptoms of emergency For many of us, when our dogs are ill, it is often quite difficult to know whether or not their condition warrants a trip to the emergency room. In an emergency, the first thing you should know is where to take your dog. Many veterinarians offer 24-hour emergency service. Please make sure to ask your vet if this is a service offered by their practice. If your vet does not offer this service, know where your local veterinary emergency hospital is located. So how do you know if you are experiencing an emergency? Most veterinarians will tell you that if you feel the situation is urgent to please call the closest emergency clinic and speak to a veterinary staff member. They will assess the situation and in most cases, have you bring your dog in to be examined. The following are some common emergency situations and ideas for how to handle them. Acute Abdominal Pain If your dog is showing signs of abdominal pain such as tenderness to the touch, standing with his back arched, or refusing food, you should take him to the closest emergency clinic immediately. Other signs of abdominal distress can include vomiting, crying, shaking and difficulty breathing. These may be signs of Gastric Torsion. This condition can come on suddenly and in most cases affects large, deep-chested dogs but any dog can be affected. This condition must be treated as soon as possible. There are other conditions associated with abdominal pain such as constipation, kidney or liver disease, or even a common stomach ache, but it is important to have tests done to rule out anything serious. Uncontrollable Bleeding or Bleeding from the Chest. If your dog gets a cut, you should apply direct pressure with a clean dry bandage to the wound. The bleeding should stop within ten minutes, after which time, you should make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. The vet can only give your dog stitches within a small window of time. However, if the bleeding does not stop within twenty minutes or the bleeding is from the chest, you should take your dog to the emergency clinic immediately. Broken Bones. If your dog has been in an accident where you suspect broken bones, first call your regular vet to see if you can get an appointment soon. If not, take your dog to the emergency clinic. They will need to take x-rays to determine whether or not bones have been broken. Breathing Difficulties. If your dog is having breathing difficulties, take them to the closest emergency hospital immediately. There are many reasons why your dog could be having breathing problems and many of them are serious. Car Accidents If your dog is hit by a car, it is important to take him to the closest emergency clinic immediately. Even if he is acting normal, he may have internal injuries that need to be taken care of quickly. Wrap your dog in a blanket to help prevent shock, and keep away from his mouth as many dogs that are in pain will bite(even if they never have before). Continuous Convulsions. If your dog has a minor seizure or two, it is a serious problem and you should call your veterinarian at once. However, if your dog has a series of convulsions that last for more then a few minutes, you should place a blanket over your dog, keep away from his mouth and get him to the nearest emergency clinic immediately. There are several reasons why your dog could be having convulsions including epilepsy, metabolic problems, brain tumours, and poisoning and fits of seizures are considered to be life-threatening in many cases. In any serious situation, if you feel that your dog should be seen by a veterinarian, call his office to see how soon you can get in. Many veterinarians have technicians available to assess situations and answer questions to help you determine the seriousness of your dog's condition. If your regular veterinarian is not available or if you feel that it is an emergency, the best thing to do, if at all possible, is to call the emergency clinic and tell them what is going on and that you are on the way. This helps the staff prepare for your situation in advance so the veterinary team is ready to work on your dog when you get there. If you have further questions on what kinds of conditions are emergency situations, please ask your veterinarian.