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To go to the vet or not to go

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It's always tricky trying to decide if your pet is in need of emergency care or not, and we have all at one time or another rushed off to the vet in a panic, only be told that everything is fine and that there was no need for alarm. You hang your head in sheepish embarrassment and go back home to that dinner party you hurriedly left, braced and ready to explain to your guests what just didn't need to happen to your pet. So how can this process be made a bit easier?

Well, to start, it's important to call your vet before rushing over, providing factual information about your pet's condition. Be careful to not let your own worry cause a distortion of the information you're giving your vet and make sure you provide careful answers to their questions. Usually they'll be able to tell you confidently over the phone whether or not you do indeed have an emergency on your hands. This said, here are a few tips to help you decide for yourself.

  1. If your pet has vomited a few times but is still actually bright and alert, withdraw food and allow only small amounts of water for a few hours and observe him. If he becomes very lethargic and continues vomiting, then he should see the vet as soon as possible.
  2. Diarrhea is not an emergency unless it's in such large amounts that your pet becomes dehydrated. This situation is not common and if it does occur, she'll be obviously lethargic. Puppies and very old dogs need to be watched closely for signs of lethargy when they develop the runs.
  3. If you're sure your pet has ingested something poisonous, then he needs to be seen quickly. If you're unsure whether or not the thing that's been swallowed is problematic, get the label with the ingredients on it and call your vet for advice.
  4. Wounds, unless they're bleeding a lot or are very large, are generally NOT emergencies, believe it or not. Bleeding can often be stopped with firm pressure on the wound using a clean cloth. This will buy you some time before getting to the vet.
  5. Eye problems should always be treated with concern, so call your vet if you're unsure about what to do.
  6. Coughing is not to be confused with choking, when your pet cannot breath in or out. Coughing is not an emergency if the coughing periods have times of normal and relaxed breathing in between.

So, do you think you've ever rushed to your vet when perhaps it was not quite that urgent? Or made that middle-of-the-night emergency call - which your vet just LOVED receiving? Take care! (in more ways than one!)

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