The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

Top 10 Reasons For Veterinary Emergency Room Visits

Every day, morning or night, the staff at Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota see patients for a number of different reasons. Dr. Heidi Fay-Thompson, one of our ER veterinarians, is here with the top 10 reasons why pets come to our emergency clinics:

  1. Vomiting and Diarrhea: Nothing sends owners into the veterinary hospital faster than having Fluffy spewing vomit and diarrhea around the house! There are many possible causes of gastrointestinal upset in dogs and cats.  Some common causes include dietary indiscretion, eating fatty people foods and infections.
  2. Toxin Ingestions: Our pets are curious and often get into foods and medications if left in reach. While the list of toxin exposures is extensive, it is most common to see pets that have ingested human treats (chocolate, xylitol), plants (especially lilies), human medications, rodenticide or an overdose of the pet’s own medication. If your pet ingests an unusual substance, please consult your veterinarian for recommendations immediately.
  3. Lacerations and Bite Wounds: As our pets are out playing, they often injure themselves. This is especially common when you get multiple pets together in areas such as dog parks or outdoor cats. Veterinarians frequently suture up wounds and treat abscesses (pockets of infection).
  4. Hit by a Car: Unfortunately, our pets do not understand the risk of roads and cars. It is far too common for veterinarians to treat pets that have been hit by cars. Some pets are fortunate and sustain only mild injuries. However, many pets are severely hurt and some do not survive the trauma. Please reduce the chance of having your pet be hit by a car by keeping your dog on a leash or in a fenced yard. Make sure that older, slower and possibly deaf dogs are in a safe location. Keep your cat indoors.
  5. Urinary Tract Obstructions: The urinary tract of male cats becomes narrow as it exits the body. If the cat also has a tendency to form urinary crystals, bladder stones or inflammation of their bladder; they are at risk of developing a urinary obstruction.  This is an extremely painful and rapidly life-threatening emergency. If your cat is ever straining to urinate, passing small amounts of urine frequently, vocalizing or grooming excessively; he should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.
  6. Difficulty Breathing: It is very scary when our pets are having difficulty breathing. It is therefore not surprising that this is a common cause for a visit to the emergency room. Difficulty breathing can be a symptom of heart failure, pneumonia, feline asthma and anatomic abnormalities. Veterinarians are able to provide oxygen support and treat these diseases.
  7. Gastrointestinal Foreign Material: Dogs and cats are curious and will eat almost anything! If the object they eat is large enough, it can become lodged in their stomach or intestinal tract and require surgery for removal. Some common items surgically removed in dogs include toys, bedding, clothing, corn cobs, peach pits and bones. Cats tend to ingest strings, yarn, hair ties, needles and toys.
  8. Worsening of Underlying Illness: Our pets are living longer and many are being treated for long-term medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer. These pets can become sick enough to require emergency treatment or time in the critical care unit.
  9. Painful, Red Eye: This can be the result of an injury, scratch to the eye, foreign material in the eye, infection of the eye, glaucoma or a number of other conditions. Eyes are very fragile and illness can be very painful and progress quickly. If your pet’s eye is red and painful, it should be evaluated by a veterinarian quickly.
  10. Lameness and Difficulty Walking: Causes of leg lameness range from simple muscle sprains to ligament tears, fractures, dislocations and cancer. The emergency veterinarian can give your pet pain medications, do a complete examination and will likely recommend radiographs to determine the cause of the lameness. Some small dogs also show pain and reluctance to walk due to back pain.

We hope your pet doesn’t experience any of these emergencies. If he or she does experience an emergency and your family veterinarian is unavailable, our team is ready to help! Both our Oakdale and St. Paul clinics are open 24/7.

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