Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Vet Care

Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Vet Care

Like humans, our pets can develop conditions or obtain injuries that require immediate emergency care. In this post, our Memphis vets explain how you can tell if your cat or dog needs emergency care and what to do in a pet emergency.

Contact your veterinarian or emergency animal clinic straight away if your pet is having an emergency.

How To Recognize Cat & Dog Emergencies

Cats and dogs can have emergencies that need urgent care at any time of the day or night, and you will have to be ready for when they occur. 

It isn't always easy to tell if your pet needs emergency care, so you will have to be familiar with some of the signs and symptoms that indicate a trip to the Emergency Vet is necessary. If you're in doubt, contact your vet or emergency vet clinic for guidance.

Signs Your Pet Needs Emergency Vet Care

  • Severe injury (falls, car accidents, broken bones, open wounds)
  • Bloated, swollen, or painful abdomen
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting or blood in diarrhea
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Unconsciousness
  • Obvious pain
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
  • Sudden blindness, staggering or stumbling
  • Loss of balance
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods, substances, plants, or bones
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens

First Aid Basics For Pets

Please be aware that attempting first aid on your pet isn't meant to replace veterinary care, it is only to stabilize your pet for a trip to your vet or emergency clinic.


Begin by muzzling your pet. Place a clean gauze pad over the injury, applying pressure with your hand until blood clotting starts (usually several minutes). Severe leg bleeding requires a tourniquet of gauze and an elastic band to secure it, bring your cat or dog to the vet immediately.


Remove all objects that could hurt your pet. Do not attempt to restrain them. Keep your animal warm after the seizure is over and call your veterinarian.


Muzzle your pet. Lay your cat or dog down on a flat surface that can be used as a stretcher to transport them to the vet. Secure them to the stretcher if possible, avoiding the injured area.


Be cautious, your pet could bite out of panic. Check for objects in their mouth and try to remove them if you can, but be careful to not accidentally push the object further into the throat. Don't waste time on this if it's difficult, you could be losing precious time. Bring your pet to the vet immediately.

Being Ready

What You Should Know in Advance

Our emergency vets recommend preparing and having the following ready in case of a veterinary emergency:

  • The contact information for your primary care veterinarian's office
  • The phone number for the closest Emergency Vet Clinic
  • Directions to the Emergency Vet Clinic
  • How to muzzle your dog when they are in pain so they don't bite others
  • Knowledge of how to stop bleeding
  • The steps for performing basic CPR for pets
  • The phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center

Your Financial Obligations

Emergency care for cats and dogs can be expensive because of the amount of diagnostic testing, monitoring, and treatment needed. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you can financially care for your pet in a time of crisis.

It may be easier to plan ahead for unforeseeable circumstances by setting aside some savings for emergencies, or pet insurance plans. Delays in care to avoid emergency fees may put your pet's life at risk, so it's important to take this into consideration when becoming a pet owner.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat or dog having an emergency? Contact your primary care veterinarian or our after-hours emergency vets in Memphis immediately.

Animal Emergency Center in Memphis

Comments About Our Care

  • "I have had to come to Animal Emergency Center under several circumstances and have always been impressed with the staff and the care they provide."
    - Shelby H.
Evening & Weekend Hours Regular Business Hours