A vet with medical gloves wrapping a cat's leg, that is wearing a surgical covering, on top of a vet exam table

What to do in a Pet Emergency

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Finding urgent care when it matters most

A pet emergency can be one of the most stressful and overwhelming times for a pet owner. No one wants to think about the worst happening, but when we find ourselves in these situations, it can help to have a plan in place or reliable resources to turn to find help as quickly as possible. 

Whether your pet is sick, injured, or perhaps involved in an emergency situation such as evacuation, below is a step-by-step guide we recommend for checking your pet’s condition and finding urgent vet and care services:

Assess your pet’s condition 

Check the following on your pet:

  • Vitals (Breathing, heart rate and temperature) by referring to this pet vitals reference that details what to check and how to perform pet first aid
  • Visual signs of bleeding
  • Visual and audible signs of broken bones as referenced in this broken bone pet care reference
  • Possible poisoning as referenced in this signs of poisoning article
    • If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, follow these emergency instructions outlined by the Pet Poison Helpline and contact one of these organizations for support:
      • Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680
      • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (800) 548-2423 or (888) 426-4435

Assess how soon your pet needs veterinary care

Reference our guide based on symptoms (see below) and if necessary, check for more information on various conditions and symptoms,  in this free Veterinary Manual:

Call a local vet clinic or emergency clinic

Look online  for local emergency vet clinics in your area, by searching “emergency vet clinic near me”. 

For emergency clinics in Southwestern Ontario, Canada contact the following:

Contact 211 support line (Canada-wide)

211 is an alternative to dialing 911, and offers free, multi-lingual and confidential support for anyone looking for resources in a non-emergency situation. You can dial this number Canada-wide, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and connect to a trained professional who will answer your questions and provide available resources based on your location.

Talk to an online vet

If you find yourself in a remote location, or unable to access immediate in-person vet care, visit the website of one of the following online vet service providers to talk to a veterinarian on-demand (note that charges and operating times may apply):

Contact your Pet Insurance provider

If you have pet insurance already in place for your pet, call your provider to find out what kind of coverage and support they offer in the urgent care case of your pet. In the case that you do not have pet insurance, look  into options once you have dealt with your pet emergency, to see if any providers are the right option for you and your pet. To learn more about making an informed decision on pet insurance, refer to our post on Understanding Pet Insurance.

In a heart-racing emergency situation, assessing their condition and providing necessary care either yourself or by finding urgent vet care may be what saves your pets life. Follow expert advice as detailed in this article and resources provided, but also trust your instincts as a pet parent and know that you are making the best decision you can for your beloved pet in that high-stress situation.. Many emergencies cannot be predicted or prevented, however it is important to consider if there is anything in your pet’s environment that could be different to provide a safer space and prevent future accidents or emergencies.  Once the situation is under control and your pet has received the care they need, take some time to provide self-care for you and your pet and spend some quality time together – you will surely both need it! 

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