It’s not something that any of us like to think about, but just as it happens with people, unexpected illnesses or injuries are common among pets.  In fact, veterinary practices see thousands of emergent cases every year.  According to, roughly 92% of all pets will experience some type of emergency situation over the course of their life.

Included in the list of the most common pet emergencies are:

  • Fractures and Soft Tissue Trauma (most often the result of being hit by a moving vehicle)
  • Poisoning (including anti-freeze, pesticides, and other household chemicals)
  • Gastrointestinal Complications (such as “bloat” or ingestion of a toy or other foreign body)

Whatever the emergency, it helps tremendously if you are prepared.  Here are some tips for making sure that you are ready, should your pet become unexpectedly ill or injured.

Have an established relationship with your veterinarian.  Don’t wait until your pet is severely ill to visit your vet.  Routine wellness visits and preventive care are incredibly important to your pet’s longevity and overall quality of life.  These visits also establish a baseline for your pet’s vital signs, meaning that your vet will have “normal” data for comparison, which can be extremely helpful in diagnosing your pet.

Keep vital information handy.  Whether you keep your pet’s health information stored in an iphone app or your trusty notebook, make sure that it is readily accessible in times of panic.  If your pet is suddenly injured, you aren’t likely to be thinking clearly.  Make it easy on yourself by having all of your pet’s details stored in one place, rather than having to dig around for papers or call your vet’s office for records.

Know your veterinarian’s after-hours protocol.  While some practices operate 24 hours a day, this is not the normal for most primary care veterinarians.  Some will provide overnight and weekend care only to existing patients, while others have a nearby emergency service to which they refer.  During your pet’s routine appointments, ask your doctor what you should do in the event of emergency.  Store any necessary phone numbers or instructions with your pet’s records, so that you will be able to move quickly during a crisis.

Most pet parents are very familiar with their furry loved one’s normal behavior, and can spot signs of illness or injury right away.  If you notice any cause for concern, don’t hesitate.  If there is ever any doubt, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Featured Photo Credit: William Doran via Compfight cc