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What is an Emergency?

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Signs That Usually Do Not Need ER Care

Symptoms that should be seen by a doctor, but not necessarily in an emergency setting include:

  • Itchiness is a common problem, but does not usually need immediate care.  The pet should be seen soon though as it is amazing how fast they can lick or scratch enough to set up an infection in the skin.
  • Reverse sneeze is a common problem, and many dogs are presented at emergency clinics because owners think they're having an asthma attack.  With reverse sneeze, the dog forcefully brings air into his nostrils.  It is usually loud and sounds terrible, but veterinarians aren't too worried about these as long as there is no nasal discharge.  You can see what reverse sneeze looks like by viewing examples on YouTube.
  • Any pet with diarrhea certainly should be examined but it does not need to be in the emergency setting as long as the pet is bright, alert, and eating well.
  • Small wounds can probably wait for your regular doctor, although you should know that dog bite wounds can have small skin openings, but have large areas of tissue damage under the skin. 

We all become worried when our beloved pets become ill, but when should we take them to an emergency hospital?  Most larger communities have an ER for pets, but when do we need to utilize one?  What symptoms are serious and need immediate attention, and what can wait until the next day for your regular doctor? The following list will help you decide. 

1.    Almost any problem involving the eye should be seen right away.  Glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and foreign bodies beneath the eyelids are common eye diseases where waiting could make the problem worse.

2.    Profuse vomiting is another sign that needs immediate attention. Vomiting has many causes.  A common reason, though, is an intestinal obstruction since pets love to eat so many weird things!  If this occurs, the pet can die in a matter of hours, so an ER trip is warranted.

3.    Difficulty breathing is also a problem that should not wait.  This symptom again has many causes but almost all need immediate attention.  Difficulty breathing may be a severe cough, but more commonly it is exaggerated effort in breathing, with pets often using their abdominal muscles to help them breathe.  At first people may not notice their pet is having difficulty, but they may note that their pet does not want to lie down.

4.    If there is active hemorrhage, of course, the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away.  If there is a small wound with just a few drops of blood, it is probably OK to wait for your regular veterinarian.

5.    If your pet suddenly can't use its back legs, is dragging its rear legs, or is unable to get up, this is a reason for an emergency trip.  This is a common problem, especially in Dachshunds, and emergency surgery may be needed to save the spinal cord.  For the best outcome in these cases, time is of the essence.

6.    If your pet has its first seizure, it should be examined immediately.  Seizures are just a symptom, they have many causes, and they should be checked without delay.  The pet should be monitored closely for the next several hours as another seizure may occur.  If your pet has had seizures before, has been diagnosed with epilepsy, is on medication, and has another seizure, it may not need to visit the ER each time it has a seizure,  but if a seizure lasts more than a couple minutes, or there are clusters of seizures, then a trip to the ER is warranted.

7.    If your pet ingests a toxin, they should be taken to the emergency hospital as soon as possible.  The doctor may induce vomiting to try to eliminate some of the toxin, so time is important.  If there is even a possibility the pet ingested antifreeze, it is important to get to the ER immediately.  There is a test to determine if they did drink any of the poison, and the antidote needs to be given within a couple of hours.
8.    If your pet is pregnant, and is having difficulty having the babies, it should see the emergency veterinarian.  This problem is called a dystocia and an emergency caesarean section maybe needed.  Veterinarians advise that a puppy or kitten should be born within two hours of the mother starting active labor, and there should be no more than one hour between puppies or kittens.  But, if you see a baby stuck in the birth canal, take them to an ER right away.

Of course, there are many other problems that pets can have. Dogs and cats can get into some very odd predicaments that may also use ER care.  The dog that gets a tin can stuck to its tongue, or the bone lodged around its lower jaw, does not have a true emergency, but they sure will be happier if they can get them removed as soon as possible!

If you need advice on whether your pet's symptoms should have immediate attention, call the Emergency Hospital for advice. They will be happy to discuss your pet and their problem.

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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