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Call a Vet ASAP - The 7 Most Serious Dog Emergencies

Any pet parent will know how worrying an abnormal behavior in their furry friend. How do you know what qualifies as a real emergency that needs a vet immediately, or what can be left and monitored at home?  

Below is a list of emergency situations that warrant consultation with your veterinarian:

Difficulty Breathing

Troubled or labored breathing is medically called as ‘dyspnea’. Just like in humans, breathing difficulties are at the top of the list in terms of emergencies.


There can be many causes of labored breathing, including issues with: the nose, throat and upper windpipe; lungs and lower windpipe; small airways in the lungs (bronchioles and bronchi); the space in the chest cavity surrounding the lungs; the chest wall; and diseases that cause a bloated or enlarged stomach.


·       flaring nostrils

·       movement of both the belly and the chest when breathing

·       mouth is open when breathing

·       breathing noisily

·       neck and head are extended; low and in front, like bowing down

·       problem in breathing either when they inhale or exhale

Serious Trauma

This is one of the most obvious health emergencies for all pets- a serious physical trauma.


There are a lot of possible causes for serious trauma. These could be: falling from a high place; getting hit by a car; getting into a fight with other dogs; or a gunshot wound.


Trauma caused by falls may not cause obvious symptoms right away. Sometimes, lacerations and cuts are deeper than they appear and might have already caused larger wounds internally, causing serious infection. You may not always witness the trauma, so when you notice that your dog is in pain, it would be a good idea to call a vet ASAP.

So regardless of whether your dog appears to have an evident bleeding wound or not, it is important to have him checked by a vet as soon as possible.

Neurological Conditions

Normally, your dog should be playful, lively, very active and responsive. A deviation from these normal behaviors may mean that something is wrong. The following symptoms call for prompt action:


·       unresponsiveness

·       lethargy

·       uncoordinated movements

·       disorientation

However, not all neurological disorders can manifest in the dog’s behavior and level of consciousness. For example, a sudden loss of limb movement or sensation may be caused by intervertebral disk disease or spinal trauma. Get your dog checked when you notice these symptoms.

Toxic Exposure

Dogs are normally curious creatures and they will tend to chew and bite on anything without them knowing that these things are already harmful to them.  For example, if you may find chewed up rat poison in your home and suspect that your dog was the one chewing on it, you need to call a vet immediately and ask what you have to do. Toxins can cause damage to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys, or issues with brain chemistry or their intestinal system.


Seizures are actually part of neurological disorders but because they can be very common in dogs, we will discuss seizures separately.


The most common cause of seizures in dogs is epilepsy. Other causes include: low blood sugar in puppies; high insulin levels in older dogs; brain tumors; and other cases of toxicities or poisoning.


·       uncontrollable tremors and shaking

·       loss of bowel and urinary control

·       paddling of the legs

·       loss of consciousness

  • appearance of being dazed or confused

If your dog is a diagnosed epileptic, not all his seizures are considered to be an emergency. However, if your dog experiences multiple seizures within 24 hours or an episode lasts for more than a few minutes, then you need to call your vet ASAP.

Whelping Emergencies

If your dog has already been in labor for four hours, has been straining for more than 30 minutes and not one single puppy is delivered, then it would be best to call a vet because the dog is already having whelping emergency and a puppy might have been stuck inside.

Many emergencies require treatment at a specialist emergency centre, especially if they occur after hours. Have the information of the most local clinic to you ready on hand for when unexpected events occur. Alternatively, you can call the team at VetPronto (415) 488-8203 and have them help you coordinate the best arrangements for your injured pet.

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