Does your pet need emergency care?

Sometimes situations that might not seem urgent really are, such as mild eye injuries, allergic reactions -- swelling around the face or hives.

A single incident of vomiting or diarrhea is probably nothing, but anything more than two or three times within an hour could indicate a serious problem. Other signs of possible serious conditions are breathing problems, chronic coughing or difficulties in urinating or defecating, especially in cats.

Animals can sometimes seem fine after accidents, such as when hit by a car, exposed to extreme heat or cold, or being cut or bitten. Beware! Your pet may have internal problems that may be lethal if not attended to quickly.

There are also situations that may not be life-threatening but are certainly painful enough to warrant immediate veterinary attention. Some of the signs of an animal in pain include panting, labored breathing, lethargy or restlessness, loss of appetite, aggression, hiding or crying out. While it may be possible to wait until your regular veterinarian is available, put yourself in your pet's place.

Start with a thermometer. Pet thermometers are available at pet-supply stores or you can use one designed for humans. Just be sure to put the latter in a special place so there are no mix-ups.

To take your pet's temperature, put a little water-based lubricant on the tip of the thermometer and insert it in the animal's rectum. After a minute or so, remove and check the temperature. The normal range of reading is between 38.0 C to 39.2 C for dogs and cats.

Other emergency situations include seizure, fainting or collapse, as well as any suspected poisoning from rodent or snail bait or human medication. Snake or spider bites, too, demand immediate attention. Cats in particular can be fatally sensitive to insecticides (such as flea-control medications that are safe for dogs), petroleum-based products or medications such as PANADOL. DON'T GIVE PANADOL TO YOUR PET – EVER!

Always remember: When in doubt, call the veterinarian. It's better to make a trip you needn't have than to miss the one you should have made.

The Ark Veterinary Hospital offers a 24 Hour Emergency Clinic for urgent cases and the Island Vet provides a Vet "on-call" service.