Veterinary Care: Emergency

The team member you hope you never need


Pet parents know the Murphy’s Law of scary pet illnesses and injuries: they tend to happen on weekends and holidays. When minutes count and your worry level is in the red zone, you don’t want to be tasked with f inding where you can take your pet and how you’ll get there. “An emergency situation is not the time you want to be asking Google for help,”  says Raina Dey of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.

When to search out an emergency vet

Find one before you need one. First, check out your regular vet’s emergency policy. Some primary-care veterinary practices are open 24 hours or have a doctor on call when the clinic is closed. In that case, be sure to store the after-hours number and other important details in your phone.

In most metro areas, you’ll want to head for a dedicated emergency hospital. “There are several around the state that are well-equipped to handle any pet emergency,” Dey says. “It's a good idea to identify the veterinary ER (or more than one) closest to you.” Put the phone number and address in your contacts.

When to use an emergency vet

Veterinary clinics can’t give medical advice over the phone, but many will talk to you while you decide whether you’re dealing with an emergency or something that can wait until your family vet is available.

Get to an ER stat if your pet has:

1.  eaten something toxic or a poison helpline advises you to seek immediate care

2.  significant bleeding, swelling, or suddenly can’t use a limb

3.  any paralysis or sudden inability to stand or walk

4.  unconsciousness or severe lethargy

5.  seizures, tremors, or frequent falling

6.  severe pain

7.  any difficulty breathing, or a toy or other foreign object is in the throat – even if it hasn’t yet interfered with breathing.

The OVMA also recommends keeping poison helpline numbers stored in your phone. “Their advice can be invaluable if your pet ingests a toxic substance, or if you're not sure if what your pet ingested is potentially harmful.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends learning pet CPR and basic first aid. These can be life-saving skills, especially if you’re hiking, camping, or your nearest ER is more than a few minutes away.


Find an ER - (search “Emergency care”)

ASPCA's Poison Control Hotline 888-426-4435 (fee)

Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661 (fee)

CPR demo video